Cards will carry on without Holliday
Left fielder will be missed, but club always finds a way to win
DENVER -- The St. Louis Cardinals have run into another detour. Left fielder Matt Holliday is now on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps muscle
Holliday had been the constant as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup for the first-place Cardinals until that third-inning injury forced him out of Monday's game, and landed him on the DL Tuesday.
And as important as Holliday has been to the success in St. Louis, there's no time for mourning in the Cards' clubhouse.
Oh, they will miss Holliday, just like they are missing right-handed pitcher Adam Wainwright, who made four starts before being knocked out for the season by a torn left Achilles on April 26. And they will miss him just like they are missing first baseman Matt Adams, sidelined two weeks ago with a right quadriceps strain of his own, which required surgery.
The Cardinals, however, are looking ahead at what they have, not behind them at what they have lost. What they have is the best record in baseball (38-21) and a .644 winning percentage. They have a 6 1/2-game lead on the second-place Cubs and Pirates in the National League Central. The Rockies, in last place in the NL West, are a half-game closer to the first-place Dodgers than the Cubs are to the Cards.
And the Cardinals have a history of looking past what went wrong.
"We have to stay the course," manager Mike Matheny said. "We can't buy into the `Woe is me,' or the `This is one thing we can't handle.' … This is a chance for someone to come in and get an opportunity."
That's the Cards way. It's why they are looking for a 12th postseason trip in 16 seasons. It's why they are looking for a third World Series appearance in the past five seasons.
It is a mentality that was evident the first day of Spring Training to Cardinals newcomer Matt Belisle, a Draft choice of the Braves, who also pitched for the Reds and most recently the Rockies.
"The expectation to win is at the forefront," said Belisle, "and it is all the way to the top of the organization, not just in the clubhouse. It's a part of the Cardinals' culture."
It is a mindset that is ingrained in every player who wears a Cards uniform.
There are no highs. There are no lows. There is a job to get done.
"After a game, there might be a brief excitement after a win or disappointment after a loss, but not for long," said Belisle. "When a game is over, what matters is the next game. They have been winning so long, it is easy to say, but you have to live each day, each game, as it comes up."
Wainwright, the ace of the rotation, was placed on the disabled list April 26. The next day, the Redbirds embarked on an eight-game winning streak. Michael Wacha, who missed three months last season with a stress fracture in his right scapula, stepped into the No. 1 slot in the rotation, and after initially piecing things together, Matheny filled the open rotation spot when Jaime Garcia came off the disabled list.
Wacha took the 4-3 loss at Colorado on Wednesday night. He, however, is 8-2, one victory behind NL leader Gerrit Cole of the Pirates, and has a 2.45 ERA, one of the 10 best among NL starters.
Adams, the primary cleanup hitter and left-handed-hitting protection for Holliday in the lineup, left after three innings of that May 26 game against Arizona. Not only did the Cardinals win that game, 6-4, but with Jhonny Peralta moving into the cleanup spot, the Cards won seven of their next nine games.
"It's all business," said Belisle. "It's about knowing what to do and how it should be down. It's about acquiring the right type of individuals and having them buy into the program. The Cardinals are able to do that."
Now it's about once again revamping that middle of the lineup. On Tuesday, it had Jon Jay, coming back from last season's wrist surgery, moving into left field, hitting seventh, and veteran Mark Reynolds, who has replaced Adams at first place, moving into the cleanup spot with Peralta hitting third.
"We'll try some things and find the right fit," said Matheny.
And there is no reason to doubt that. The Cardinals have shown that ability to ignore adversity and embrace success.