PITTSBURGH -- Twenty hours out from Wednesday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager John Mozeliak continued to downplay the likelihood of the Cardinals making an impact move.
Aside from trading demoted reliever Marc Rzepczynski for low-level Minor League shortstop Juan Herrera on Tuesday, the Cardinals have thus far been quiet on the trade front. Mozeliak has been actively engaged in discussions on a narrow group of players, but the organization is also unwilling to buy at any cost.
"I still think there are opportunities to see players traded by tomorrow," Mozeliak said between games of Tuesday's doubleheader. "I don't feel very optimistic that we'll be one of those active clubs. Obviously there is still time on the clock and things could change, but some of the things we were exploring, we just haven't been able to come to where we have a meeting of the minds."
The Cardinals' needs have long been defined. They have explored adding a starting pitcher and upgrading at shortstop, but have done so without desperation. Despite losing their last five games, the Cardinals sit only a half-game behind the Pirates, who have the best record in the league.
This season-worst stretch has also not changed how the Cardinals view the current makeup of their roster.
"Look, today was a tough loss," Mozeliak said. "You think about how hard we hit balls right at people. There are going to be nights like that. Unfortunately, we're in a little bit of a losing streak. But having said that, I still think it's a good team. There are definitely ups and downs, peaks and valleys through a season and this is certainly a down time for us."
Cards bolster bullpen by calling up Blazek, Butler
PITTSBURGH -- Needing to fill their bullpen with fresh arms for Tuesday's doubleheader, the Cardinals recalled right-handers Michael Blazek and Keith Butler from Triple-A. Righty Fernando Salas and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski were optioned to Memphis to make room.
Before the Cardinals could finish the first of Tuesday's two games, they flipped Rzepczynski to the Indians for Minor League infielder Juan Herrera.
Both Salas and Rzepczynski were called upon to pitch more than an inning in Monday's 9-2 loss to the Pirates. Salas threw 35 pitches in his appearance, and Rzepczynski needed 20 to get four outs. By adding Blazek and Butler to the 'pen, the Cardinals are assured of having seven available relievers on Tuesday.
"Both have been throwing well," manager Mike Matheny said. "They did a nice job when they were here. We weren't getting them a lot of work, but we'll probably need their help this time."
This will be Blazek's third stint with the Cards this season. He was most recently sent to Triple-A on July 10 after allowing three runs in three innings (four appearances). Butler followed him to Memphis five days later and has pitched four times since. Both righties are plenty fresh, too. Blazek last pitched on Saturday; Butler's most recent appearance came last Friday.
Salas and Rzepczynski combined to allow five seventh-inning runs to the Pirates on Monday. The outing was Rzepczynski's second since being recalled after a near three-month stay in the Minors. He pitched a scoreless inning on Sunday in his first appearance back.
In removing Rzepczynski from the roster on Tuesday, it became evident that his time with the Cardinals was limited. Rather than waiting to non-tender him over the winter, the Cards were able to deal the left-hander now and get a player in return. They also receive some salary relief, as Rzepczynski is in the middle of a one-year, $1.1 million deal.
Salas had been scored upon in three of four appearances since rejoining St. Louis after a stay on the disabled list and a stint in the Minors. Overall, he has a 4.79 ERA in 19 appearances for the Cards this season.
Salas, like Rzepczynski, has not been the same pitcher since 2011. His time with the organization may be winding down, too, as Salas will be arbitration-eligible at the end of the season.
"It's tougher for them to have to go through," Matheny said of the demotions. "We get that, but we have a tough assignment here with a lot of games and not many days. We have to put our best foot forward."
The Cardinals are seven games into a stretch that has them playing 37 games in 37 days.
At the same time these two roster moves were announced, the Cardinals also made official the addition of Tyler Lyons. He was added to the roster as a 26th player for the day. Beginning last year, Major League Baseball approved expanding the active roster by one for doubleheaders scheduled at least 48 hours in advance.
Lyons will start Game 2 for the Cards on Tuesday and will be opposed by Pittsburgh's Brandon Cumpton, who has also been called up from Triple-A.
Playing twin bill, Matheny juggles lineups
PITTSBURGH -- Prioritizing rest for several of his starting position players, manager Mike Matheny will have at least four players start only one of Tuesday's pair of games.
Yadier Molina, David Freese and Allen Craig were left out of the Game 1 lineup. Tony Cruz drew the catching assignment, while Matt Adams slid in at first and Daniel Descalso over at third. Though Matheny did not reveal his lineup for the nightcap early in the afternoon, he did confirm that Carlos Beltran will not be starting the second game.
The decision to start Beltran in the first game was dictated by numbers. He has 11 hits in 36 at-bats against Pirates Game 1 starter A.J. Burnett. As for Molina, Matheny wanted to give him the few extra hours to recover from catching Monday night and therefore pushed his start to the later game.
"We're just working around keeping everybody as fresh as we can to have them for two tough games here," Matheny said.
For Craig, the brief break comes at a time when he's gone hitless in 18 consecutive at-bats. Before going five games without a hit, Craig had hit safely in 18 of 19 games and had not had a string of more than two straight hitless games all season.
"He's been so good all season long," Matheny said of Craig. "Any kind of blip stands out to us."
• Marco Gonzales, the Cardinals' No. 8 prospect and top pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the Gulf Coast League team on Monday. In four GCL appearances, Gonzales has given up four earned runs on eight hits. He has walked three and struck out 10.
• Tuesday's doubleheader marked the first between the Cardinals and Pirates in Pittsburgh since Aug. 6, 1999. The two clubs most recently met for a twin bill in St. Louis nine years ago.
• The Arizona Fall League announced that Cardinals Double-A manager Mike Shildt will serve as manager for the AFL's Salt River Rafters. With Salt River, Shildt will be managing players from the Cardinals, Rockies, D-backs, Rays and Blue Jays.
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.