Cards bounce back to knot NL WC race in rout

Cards bounce back to knot NL WC race in rout

CHICAGO -- Just when the Cardinals needed a win to keep pace in the National League Wild Card race, it was Alex Reyes' turn to pitch. Stephen Piscotty smacked a solo home run and Yadier Molina drove in four runs to back Reyes and power the Cardinals to a 10-4 victory on Saturday at Wrigley Field over the Cubs and slow their drive for 100 wins.

"They're a really good hitting ballclub," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the Cardinals, who evened the season series at nine wins apiece with one game remaining. "They're very good offensively. They have a lot of veterans on the team. They're very formidable."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Big first inning sets tone for hot-hitting Cards

Using 140th different lineup, St. Louis opens game with four runs

Big first inning sets tone for hot-hitting Cards

CHICAGO -- Still without a static batting order as the season nears its end, manager Mike Matheny produced his 140th different lineup on Saturday in an effort to jumpstart a recently unreliable offense. And that alignment struck a sweet spot.

After dropping seven of their past 12 games and totaling seven runs in those losses, the Cardinals broke out in a 10-4 victory over the Cubs to pull even with the Giants in the National League Wild Card race. San Francisco plays later Saturday evening, as will the Mets, who sit one game ahead of the Cardinals.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Swollen thumb causes setback for Holliday

Swollen thumb causes setback for Holliday

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Holliday has hit another snag in his push to return for the final week of the regular season, as his surgically repaired right thumb is once again swollen and sore one day after testing it against live pitching.

That means the Cardinals will scrap plans to have Holliday go through the live batting practice simulation again on Sunday and instead wait to see what comes of the left fielder's scheduled visit with a hand specialist on Monday. If the specialist confirms that the thumb is structurally sound, then Holliday's return will be predicated primarily on pain tolerance.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

During dugout interview, Wainwright revealed he is Godzilla

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During dugout interview, Wainwright revealed he is Godzilla

Adam Wainwright gave an in-game interview from the Cardinals' dugout during their 10-4 win over the Cubs in which he talked about his teammate Alex Reyes on the mound and then, nearing the end, revealed that he is not only the Cardinals' ace but also the giant lizard monster Godzilla.

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Tiebreaker scenarios for Wild Card berths

As the 2016 season winds down the six divisions are pretty much decided. However, the two Wild Card races are completely up in the air, and there is a good chance we end up seeing at least one tiebreaker game played on Monday, Oct. 3.

With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the likeliest tiebreaker scenarios for the American and National League Wild Cards.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martinez gets call in final contest against Cubs

Martinez gets call in final contest against Cubs

Before preparations begin for the postseason, Wrigley Field will play host to one final regular-season game with Sunday's nationally televised matchup between the Cubs and Cardinals. It will be the division rivals' last scheduled meeting of the season, but perhaps also a prelude for what might come in October.

With their win on Saturday, the Cardinals pulled even with the Giants for second place in the National League Wild Card standings. The Mets sit a game ahead of both. Whichever of the three advance to the NL Division Series will open that best-of-five matchup when Wrigley Field next opens its gates.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sloppy start downs Leake, Cardinals in opener

Bullpen tosses 4 2/3 scoreless innings, but Cubs score four in first

Sloppy start downs Leake, Cardinals in opener

CHICAGO -- The sort of lapses that have constrained the Cardinals this season surfaced again in a 5-0 loss to the Cubs that left the Cards to spend another day stuck where they started it -- lagging behind the Giants and Mets in the National League Wild Card standings.

Friday's series opener at Wrigley Field unraveled in a first inning that saw Mike Leake throw 31 pitches and closed with the Cardinals down by four. There were mishandled plays in the field, key pitches not executed and two wild pitches. It was a sloppy start from which the Cards never recovered, despite the bullpen's scoreless performance.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards shut out, remain behind in Wild Card race

Cards shut out, remain behind in Wild Card race

CHICAGO -- One week after clinching the National League Central title, the Cubs are focused on fine-tuning some things in preparation for the postseason. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have to beat their division rival if they hope to secure an NL Wild Card berth, and they were unable to do so on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Jake Arrieta struck out 10 over seven innings in the Cubs' 5-0 victory over the Cardinals, their 15th shutout of the season. It was Chicago's 98th win, the most in a single season since winning 98 in 1945, which was the last time the Cubs played in the World Series. Though they lost, the Cardinals remained a half-game behind the Giants, who lost to the Padres, for the second NL Wild Card spot.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Garcia earns back spot in Cardinals' rotation

Weaver heads to bullpen as St. Louis gives Wainwright extra day of rest

Garcia earns back spot in Cardinals' rotation

CHICAGO -- The Cardinals have decided to make yet another September starter swap, and they will replace rookie Luke Weaver with left-hander Jaime Garcia during this next turn through the rotation.

Garcia, who lost his rotation spot following an abbreviated Sept. 13 appearance, earned it back with a pair of strong outings in relief. He'll make that next start on Monday, when the Cardinals open a four-game series against the Reds at Busch Stadium. In starting Garcia for the series opener, the Cards can push Adam Wainwright's next start back to Tuesday.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Who would start in Wild Card Game?

Beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers questions from St. Louis fans

Inbox: Who would start in Wild Card Game?

ST. LOUIS -- Ten games. Three teams. Two spots. All even. That's the National League Wild Card race in a nutshell, a race that the Cardinals climbed back into with a pair of crucial victories in San Francisco and a series win in Colorado. Thursday is the club's last off-day of the regular season before beginning its final push toward what the organization hope ends with a sixth straight postseason berth.

Let's dig into another set of mailbag questions to pass the time.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards overpowered, can't gain Wild Card edge

Cards overpowered, can't gain Wild Card edge

DENVER -- German Marquez was exceptional in his first Major League start, and Nolan Arenado's grand slam powered the Rockies past the Cardinals, 11-1, at Coors Field on Wednesday. The loss kept the Cardinals tied with the Giants and Mets for the two National League Wild Card spots.

Marquez baffled the Cardinals over five frames, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out three and walked one, with the only damage coming on Kolten Wong's second-inning sacrifice fly. Marquez was especially effective when he kept the ball low; he recorded six groundouts and two flyouts.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Rockies on Wednesday.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Cardinals on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Waino aiming at strong finish, postseason run

Waino aiming at strong finish, postseason run

DENVER -- Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright was smiling. He's feeling good, finally.

How good? So good that in the aftermath of picking up the victory in the Cards' win at Coors Field on Tuesday night, Wainwright began a campaign.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals, Rockies battle it out in the form of a pregame standoff

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Cardinals, Rockies battle it out in the form of a pregame standoff

Before Wednesday's Cardinals-Rockies game had even begun, St. Louis had already tallied a win. Well, when it comes to anthem standoffs, anyway. Perhaps inspired by the Brewers and Reds last week, or, you know, any anthem standoff in the past decade, the Rockies' Carlos Estevez and the Cardinals' Jose Martinez heard the song end … and then they just kept standing there. 

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Holliday close to return after successful BP

Cardinals hope injured outfielder can ramp up recovery before Cubs games

Holliday close to return after successful BP

DENVER -- Matt Holliday may be on the verge of returning to action with the Cardinals after missing more than a month due to a right thumb fracture. He took batting practice during the Cards' three-game series at Coors Field, and all reports have been good, both in terms of his ability to take good swings and the lack of negative effects afterwards.

During Holliday's first BP session on Monday, he hit a ball over 450 feet onto the concourse in left field, breaking the window of a "Helton Burger" concession stand, named after his former Rockies teammate, Todd Helton.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In new role, Garcia provides much-needed relief

Cardinals lefty tosses four scoreless innings in longer outing than past two starts

In new role, Garcia provides much-needed relief

DENVER -- Jaime Garcia's second relief appearance of the season was longer than both of his past two starts -- and considerably better.

Garcia's performance was one of the few features on the Cardinals' highlight reel from the 11-1 loss to the Rockies in the finale of the three-game set. He came in to relieve Luke Weaver, who yielded six runs on seven hits in two innings.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Waino's 4 RBIs help Cardinals tie for top WC

Waino's 4 RBIs help Cardinals tie for top WC

DENVER -- Behind a career-high four RBIs from Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals moved into a three-way tie for the top National League Wild Card spot with a 10-4 victory over the Rockies on Tuesday night at Coors Field. St. Louis, San Francisco and the New York Mets are all 80-71 with 11 games left in the regular season.

"I've been saving my RBIs up for this year," Wainwright said. "I'm doing whatever it takes to help this team win. In a park like this, in a place that no lead is safe, if a pitcher can go up there and push something across and help the team get a run, get four runs, whatever, you're doing your job."

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Rockies on Tuesday.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Cardinals on Tuesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards see the best of Waino against Rockies

Righty's all-around performance helps club tie for top Wild Card

Cards see the best of Waino against Rockies

DENVER -- Leave it to the high-altitude hitters' paradise of Coors Field to help Adam Wainwright find himself on top of his game. Making use of the best curveball he's thrown all season, Wainwright earned his 12th victory on a career night offensively in a 10-5 win over the Rockies on Tuesday.

St. Louis also has a three-way share of the lead in the National League Wild Card standings.

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals want Diaz to rest his throwing arm

Rookie shortstop still working back from right thumb injury

Cardinals want Diaz to rest his throwing arm

DENVER -- Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz's stellar rookie season hit a bit of a speed bump in his return from the disabled list prior to Monday's series opener against the Rockies. Manager Mike Matheny noticed something was off with Diaz's throws from short and figured he could use a day off as Diaz continues to recover from a fractured right thumb.

"When you have surgery on your throwing hand, you can do arm strengthening exercises, but you can't replicate the throwing itself," Matheny said. "It takes time, just like a pitcher -- you got to build up. The same thing goes with being a position player, having to have your arm in throwing shape. To do it day in, day out, that's really [what the trainers] are keeping their eye on more than anything else, much more so than the hand."

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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bottom of order comes up big for Cards

Gyorko, Grichuk and Martinez produce four runs, score five

Bottom of order comes up big for Cards

DENVER -- Sometimes runs can come from unexpected places, but for the Cardinals, the bottom of their order is still potent.

The Nos. 7-8-9 hitters -- second baseman Jedd Gyorko, center fielder Randal Grichuk and starter Carlos Martinez -- led the way offensively in the Cards' 5-3 win over the Rockies on Monday, scoring all five runs.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards hold off Rox, tie for 2nd Wild Card

Cards hold off Rox, tie for 2nd Wild Card

DENVER -- Carlos Martinez powered himself to his career-high 15th win with a fourth-inning double, as the Cardinals topped the Rockies, 5-3, at Coors Field on Monday and moved into a tie for the second National League Wild Card spot.

The Cards joined the Giants -- who lost to the Dodgers -- top the second Wild Card, while the Mets lead the first Wild Card by one game.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martinez needed a little help catching his breath

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Martinez needed a little help catching his breath

Carlos Martinez hit his first double of the season on Monday, driving in a pair of runs in the fourth inning of the Cardinals' 5-3 win over the Rockies. He then sprinted from second to home on Matt Carpenter's RBI single, scoring St. Louis' fifth run of the game. He did all of this after getting hit in the leg by a pitch in the third inning, going on to pick up his 15th win of the season. And this was all in the thin air of Coors Field.

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Matheny enjoys managing at Coors Field

Cards skipper says Denver park tests staff's resolve

Matheny enjoys managing at Coors Field

DENVER -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny knows that managing at Coors Field can be a challenge. No stadium is more hitter-friendly, which can make managing a pitching staff interesting.

Games at Coors Field were averaging 12.3 runs per game this season entering Monday, which was more than a full run more than the average scoring at any other park. And in the 13 games Matheny has managed in Denver coming into this series, his team had given up an average of 5.6 runs per game.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Despite challenges, Cards still in playoff hunt

Despite challenges, Cards still in playoff hunt

DENVER -- So here are the St. Louis Cardinals with a starting lineup on Monday night against the Rockies that included five players who have spent time on the disabled list this year and a DL that still includes left fielder Matt Holliday, who hit third on Opening Day.

The Cardinals lost projected starter Lance Lynn during the offseason with elbow surgery and have seen starting pitchers Mike Leake and Michael Wacha among 18 players who have been on the disabled list, three of whom have been sidelined twice. And while Wacha is active now, he is limited to an inning or two in relief.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards blank Giants, shuffle Wild Card standings

Cards blank Giants, shuffle Wild Card standings

SAN FRANCISCO -- The conclusion of a four-game set at AT&T Park on Sunday may have ushered in the final fortnight of the regular season, but it did nothing to separate a pair of Wild Card contenders standing precisely as they were when the series began. On the heels of an emotional, come-from-behind win, the Cardinals sealed a series split with Sunday's 3-0 victory, one highlighted by a spectacular start from rookie Alex Reyes.

The Cardinals' ninth shutout win of the season pulled them to within one game of the Giants in the National League Wild Card standings. However, while these two clubs battled to a series split, the Mets inched ahead of both. New York holds a one-game advantage over San Francisco.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reyes shows veteran poise in shutting down Giants

Reyes shows veteran poise in shutting down Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thrust into a Major League rotation at the heart of the Cardinals' playoff push, rookie Alex Reyes responded Sunday by matching the magnitude of the moment with the biggest performance of his career. His seven shutout innings served as the backbone for a 3-0 win that pulled the Cardinals to within one game of the Giants in the Wild Card race.

"That kind of answers a lot of questions about whether he can handle pressure when you put him in a spot like that," manager Mike Matheny said. "He knows where we are in the season, and he's been able to really maximize the moment, which is something that's very hard for a kid to do."

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Umpire exits game in SF after foul strikes mask

Umpire exits game in SF after foul strikes mask

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants and Cardinals' series finale was delayed Sunday after a foul tip hit home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora's face mask.

O'Nora was checked by Giants team physician Ken Akizuki and diagnosed with a concussion. He cannot travel until symptoms subside.

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Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards' rally in 9th bunches NL Wild Card race

Cards' rally in 9th bunches NL Wild Card race

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two outs away from falling into precarious position in the National League Wild Card standings, the Cardinals jumped on a wobbly San Francisco bullpen Saturday night to stun the Giants and tighten a three-way Wild Card race with a 3-2 victory at AT&T Park.

With their 16th final at-bat win of the season, the Cardinals moved to within two games of the Giants in the Wild Card race. And the Giants found themselves with unwanted company. The Mets, victorious in 13 innings Saturday, pulled into a first-place tie with San Francisco. New York also holds the tie-breaker over the Giants by virtue of winning the season series 4-3.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Grichuk, Wong play key roles in comeback win

Grichuk, Wong play key roles in comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO -- The game in New York had just gone final as the Cardinals readied for their last gasp against a San Francisco club that had led in all but one inning of this series. And perhaps just in time to save their postseason chances, the Cardinals found a needed gulp of air.

With a methodical comeback keyed by a pair of players who spent much of the season fumbling for defined roles, the Cardinals created a two-game swing in a National League Wild Card race that got even tighter with the night's developments. Following a win by the Mets with their own 3-2 victory over the Giants, the Cardinals pulled to within two games of both clubs as the final fortnight of the regular season is set to begin.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals fall 3 back of Giants in Wild Card race

Cardinals fall 3 back of Giants in Wild Card race

SAN FRANCISCO -- Skipping batting practice appears to be the cure for the Giants' struggles at the plate. The group broke out offensively for the second night in a row Friday, utilizing a six-run third inning and Buster Posey's first home run in two months to beat the Cardinals, 8-2, at AT&T Park.

Posey's two-run homer came one frame after he hit a two-run single as part of a third inning in which the Giants brought 12 batters to the plate. Posey is 7-for-9 in the two games since manager Bruce Bochy canceled batting practice for the club. Posey's teammates have been just as sharp, scoring 10 of their 14 runs in this series with two outs.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.