Cardinals Report, taking stock of May

Coming into May the Cardinals had a three-game lead in the NL Central at the end of April. At the end of their May grind they’re 27-24, in second place, chasing the Reds, and trying to fend off third-place Pittsburgh.

After falling again in Atlanta, and sending three more players to the disabled list in all likelihood, the Cardinals will be pleased to put the month of May behind them.

But two questions remain. Can they put the losing behind them? Will June be any better?

Skip Schumaker doesn’t enjoy watching the St. Louis Cardinals add to their injury woes, particularly when he’s the newest name on the list.

Schumaker suffered a hamstring injury he fears will send him to the disabled list during the Cardinals’ 10-7 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

The Cardinals kept third baseman David Freese and outfielder Carlos Beltran out of the starting lineup due to injuries, while starting pitcher Jaime Garcia was back in St. Louis for an MRI on his sore right elbow.

Outfielders Jon Jay and Allen Craig, first basemen Lance Berkman and Matt Carpenter, and starting pitcher Chris Carpenter are the most prominent names already are on the DL.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Schumaker said. “I was hoping I wouldn’t be part of it. We have a very good team on the DL right now.”

Schumaker will return to St. Louis for an MRI on Thursday.

“It’s not good,” said Schumaker, who started in right field. “If I had to guess, it’s probably a DL thing.”

The Cardinals went 13-16 during a troubling May, getting thrown for losses in several areas, including the standings. They struggled through four losing streaks of at least three games and in mounting frustration they endured the madness of four one-run losses.

Fernando Salas, a valuable bullpen component in 2011, couldn’t reverse a terrible decline and was demoted to the minors. Salas became the symbol of a Cardinals’ bullpen that was rocked throughout the month. After another meltdown in Wednesday’s 10-7 loss to the Braves, the bullpen finished May with a 5.44 ERA and a whopping 138 base runners allowed in 82 2/3 innings.

Not to be outdone the starting rotation played their role as well in the May swoon.  Fading mightily after cranking out a strong 2.57 ERA in April. That was unsustainable. The inevitable regression led to a 4.50 starting-pitching ERA in May

Notes:

–CF Skip Schumaker, who was getting more time with OFs Jon Jay and Allen Craig disabled, singled in the fifth inning on Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to seven games, during which he is 9-for-26 (.346).

–C Yadier Molina raised his average to .337 with his third four-hit game of the season. “I feel good at the plate, but I would take my 1-for-5 last night and a win and not take 4-for-4 and a loss,” he said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3-9 — The Cardinals’ record in one-run games after Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Braves.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I just need to do a better job. I haven’t been very good the last four or five starts.” — RHP Jake Westbrook, who has given up 31 hits and 19 runs (17 earned) in his past 20 innings, covering four starts. None has been a win either for Westbrook or the team.

–3B David Freese (mildly sprained right wrist) did not play May 28-29. He is unlikely to return before June 1.

–OF/1B Allen Craig (left hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 17. He might be ready to return as soon as he is eligible.

–CF Jon Jay (sprained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 15. He might be able to return during the week of May 28-June 3.

–INF Matt Carpenter (strained right oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list May 23.

–1B Lance Berkman (torn meniscus in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 20. He had arthroscopic surgery May 25, and no ACL damage was found. He might return in mid- to late July.

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