ST. LOUIS — Bruised and battle-tested, the St. Louis Cardinals watched their division lead dwindle to two games entering the All-Star break.
They still have the best record and stingiest staff in the major leagues — and hopes of some reinforcements.
The Cardinals anticipate getting Matt Holliday back from the 15-day disabled list, too, just in time for their return series against the New York Mets at home beginning Friday.
"I think guys don’t buy into the fact that we can’t do something," said manager Mike Matheny, who has presided over a strong body of work by an ensemble featuring multiple rookies and other temporary fixes. "There’s going to be times during the season you’re going to lose significant pieces."
The Cardinals are 56-33 despite injuries to ace Adam Wainwright, Matt Adams, Jon Jay, Jordan Walden, Marco Gonzales and Holliday, out since early June with a quadriceps injury.
Through great times, when the NL Central lead was nine games, and lean days, Matheny has been steadfast in ignoring the won-loss record and demanding daily commitment.
"It comes down to ‘What am I going to do right now? Am I going to be able to do my part, do my piece?’" he said. "It doesn’t matter who is here or not here."