Cards view April with different lenses

Cards view April with different lenses

ST. LOUIS -- For all the adversity that the Cardinals faced in April, the club is atop the National League Central with 15 wins in 26 games. How successful the month was, though, depends largely upon perspective.

It's fair to contend that the Cardinals should have several more tallies in the win column given the club's stellar starting pitching. With a 2.15 rotation ERA, the Cardinals finished with the lowest such month-long figure for the franchise since 1968.

Potential wins were left untapped, however, because of a combustible bullpen that has already changed closers and an offense that has largely underachieved. That's why the Cardinals lost nine games in which their starter allowed three earned runs or fewer. In three of those losses, the starter didn't even allow an earned run.

"We look over what we've been able to do, and we'd be foolish not to learn from it," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think we learned a lot of things there. It's a long season, and if they keep going about it the right way, things will start shifting in the right direction as far as offensive production. The starters, we want them to just keep doing what they've been doing. And we're going to get this bullpen thing figured out."

There's the glass-half-full perspective, too, which would argue that the Cardinals are fortunate to have gotten all the wins they did. The offense's overall struggles were largely masked by the abnormally high success rate the Cardinals had when hitting with runners in scoring position.

The club had a challenging road-heavy schedule early, playing 15 of its first 21 games away from St. Louis (one road game was rained out). The only teams with records currently below .500 that the Cards have faced are the Phillies and Nationals.

"Look at our schedule -- a lot of road games against a lot of really good teams," Matt Holliday said. "[The record] wasn't ideal, but it was pretty good for having some of the road trips that we had early on. We had some wins that we could have won, but you feel pretty good about that."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.