A major storm that hit St. Louis on Friday postponed the Cardinals' series opener against the Giants by a day. But it did nothing to slow down the team with the best record in the Major Leagues.
The Cardinals took both ends of Saturday's doubleheader, and on Sunday at Busch Stadium they will try for a sweep in the teams' regular-season finale. St. Louis has gotten a measure of revenge for last year's National League Championship Series, taking four of five overall.
The Cardinals, currently on a 23-7 run, have had a strange past few days. Multiple rain delays caused Thursday's game to end after 3 a.m. CT, and Friday's rainout gave them time to rest before playing three games in a little more than 24 hours. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said calling Friday's contest was the right course of action but wasn't sure how much it benefited his club.
"I don't know if doubleheaders are ever a blessing," Matheny said. "They beat you up pretty good. But it was nice we didn't have to sit around all night [Friday] night. I think obviously you just look at how it didn't back off; that was a great decision on behalf of the club to get people out of here with hail coming through. It was a good decision."
Sunday will be the home debut for Cardinals rookie Tyler Lyons, who has put together consecutive stellar outings to begin his big league career. The 25-year-old lefty has gone seven innings and allowed one run in both starts. He has held the opposition to six hits while striking out nine.
"Everyone's goal is to get here," Lyons said after his start Tuesday against the Royals. "But at the same time, you want to get here and do well. Hopefully, I can keep it going."
The Giants, who have lost five of six and 12 of 18, will have Chad Gaudin make his first start since Sept. 28, 2009. Gaudin, then a member of the Yankees, gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Royals.
The 30-year-old does have plenty of experience in this role, posting a 4.72 ERA in 75 career starts. He threw three innings and 54 pitches his last time out, Tuesday at Oakland, and has highs of 3 1/3 innings and 72 pitches this season.
Gaudin is filling in for the injured Ryan Vogelsong, and manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that he would be satisfied with five or six innings. With San Francisco having an off-day Monday, Bochy should be able to use his bullpen liberally, rather than having to push Gaudin.
Giants: Pagan remains sidelined
While Bochy said that Angel Pagan "possibly" could return to the lineup in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, the center fielder ultimately sat out once again with a strained left hamstring. Gregor Blanco hit leadoff and played center in both games.
Pagan has not played since last Saturday. He has hit safely in each of his past five contests.
• Bochy said that first baseman Brandon Belt likely will rest Sunday after playing both ends of the doubleheader, with Brett Pill getting the start in his place. Buster Posey should be back at catcher for the series finale, since Guillermo Quiroz was behind the plate for Saturday's nightcap.
Cardinals: Jay hits a rough patch
Center fielder Jon Jay carried a hitless streak of 19 at-bats into Saturday's doubleheader. He did notch an RBI single in Game 1, but that was his only hit of the day. Over his last 11 games, Jay is 4-for-41 (.098) with no extra-base hits and no multi-hit games.
• Keith Butler made his Major League debut out of the Cardinals' bullpen Saturday afternoon, pitching a scoreless ninth inning. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up one hit and one walk and struck out one.
Butler was the fifth Cardinals pitcher to make his debut this season and currently is one of six rookie hurlers on the team's active roster.
• Gaudin gave up one hit and struck out four in three scoreless relief innings against the Cardinals on April 7.
• The Cardinals have not lost consecutive games since dropping three in a row from April 27-29.