Cardinals monthly recap10/02/2004 7:20 PM ET
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
The season started on a down note for the Redbirds, dropping three out of four at home to the Brewers as the starting rotation struggled mightily. But sweeps at Arizona and, more notably, at Houston, established the Cardinals as a team to be reckoned with on the road. Scott Rolen had a torrid first month, establishing himself as a potential MVP candidate as the season wore on.
St. Louis hovered around .500 for much of the month, with highlights like a 4-2 week against Atlanta and Florida and disappointments like a series loss against Montreal. At 23-22 on May 26, the Cards had seen their lowest point for the rest of the year -- a May 27 win kicked off a 23-7 run that showed what this team could do. Chris Carpenter began to show ace form in May, going 4-0 with a 2.62 ERA for the month.
The Cardinals truly flexed their muscles for the first time in June. After a split with the Cubs in Chicago, they took two out of three in Texas and swept the A's as Interleague Play began. One turning point in the season came June 23, when the Cards rebounded from a difficult loss to the Cubs and rallied from down 9-5 to beat Chicago. A loss would have tied the division. Instead, the Cards won and never looked back.
After a frustrating sweep in Pittsburgh, the Cards roared through their final homestand of the first half with an 8-1 record. Then it got better. When St. Louis swept two games from the Cubs at Wrigley shortly after the break -- capped by a huge comeback win on a Tuesday afternoon -- the division was suddenly in little doubt. They left Chicago with a 10-game lead. Albert Pujols hit .374 with nine homers in July, and wasn't even the player of the month on his own team. League honors went to Jim Edmonds for his 13-homer, 27-RBI month in which he hit .381 with a .475 on-base percentage and .952 slugging percentage.
Ho-hum, another dominating month. The Redbirds went 4-2 on a tough trip to Atlanta and Miami, but spent most of the month playing -- and beating -- non-contending teams. The big news was off the field, with the Aug. 6 addition of Larry Walker to an already formidable lineup. Julian Tavarez was ejected and later suspended for an Aug. 20 incident involving questionable substances on his cap.
What felt like a disappointing month after the blistering previous three was still successful by most standards. The Cardinals enjoyed a perfect homestand against the Padres and Dodgers before dropping four of six to those same teams on the road. They wrapped up an outright division title on Sept. 20, and won their 100th game on Sept. 23. Injuries became a concern, however, as Rolen missed two weeks, Steve Kline missed a month and Carpenter was sidelined indefinitely.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.