PITTSBURGH -- On a day the Cardinals opened a five-game series against their closest division competitor, manager Mike Matheny remained firm in his insistence that the team views this stop in Pittsburgh in pieces, not as a whole. He refuses, too, to buy into the hype of this potentially being a season-defining series.
"It's going to be boring, but it's going to be consistent," Matheny said of his message. "It's going to consistently be about, 'We have a game today.' … If we just go about it that way -- it doesn't make for good writing, I understand that -- but it makes for good consistent baseball, and that's the business we're in."
Pittsburgh is the second stop on a three-city trek that began in Atlanta and will end in Cincinnati. The Cardinals were swept by the Braves, leaving them only 1 1/2 games ahead of the Pirates at the start of this extended series.
Although the complexion of the division can change drastically with the outcome of this series, Matheny has urged his players to downplay the importance of one five-game stretch in a 162-game season.
"I want these guys to do the same thing, and that's training their minds to prepare for one game," he said. "Go out and just compete, compete and compete, and not get distracted. This game is about eliminating distractions. It has to be put down into bite-size pieces. The smaller and more focused you can put that attention, they have seen that's more of a fertile ground for success."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.