8/18/2013 7:59 P.M. ET
Taxed Mujica was unavailable for Chicago series
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Manager Mike Matheny revealed after Sunday's 6-1 win that Edward Mujica had been unavailable out of the bullpen for the three-game series at Wrigley Field due to arm fatigue.
The Cardinals were ready to use Trevor Rosenthal as the closer had a save situation presented itself. As it turned out, with winning margins of four and five runs on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, Matheny did not get stuck in such a spot.
Mujica, who has converted 31 of 33 save opportunities this season, said his arm felt tired after throwing 24 pitches in a two-inning relief appearance on Thursday. It was the third straight two-inning outing Mujica had made, and he threw 71 pitches during that five-day span.
"I was tired," Mujica said. "I talked to [Matheny], we have good communication. I said, 'Mike, I feel, not sore, but just a little tired.' I prepare for one inning, maybe four or five outs, but to have two innings three times in a row [was a change]. It was good to have these three days [off]."
Both Mujica and Matheny were optimistic that Mujica would feel fresh enough to pitch, if needed, on Monday in Milwaukee. Matheny also explained that he didn't divulge the information earlier for the sake of competitive advantage. Matheny was asked Sunday morning if Mujica was available Saturday and answered in the affirmative.
The Cardinals' bullpen as a whole was able to reset during this three-game series, which should free up other restrictions Matheny has had lately in how to use his relievers.
The 'pen entered the weekend series in Chicago having thrown 16 2/3 innings in three games against the Pirates. The Cardinals didn't need to use any reliever more than once over the last three days. Rosenthal is among those who seemingly could benefit most from any opportunity for rest.
In his first full season as a reliever, the rookie Rosenthal ranks first among Cardinals relievers in appearances (56) and innings pitched (58 2/3) after Sunday's scoreless ninth. He is on pace to pitch in 74 games, a total reached by a Cardinals reliever only three times since 2009.
As the Cardinals look to find ways to spell both Rosenthal and Mujica, Michael Wacha's presence could become crucial. The rookie right-hander has struck out seven of the nine batters he has faced in three perfect innings of relief.
"He was pretty impressive, came in and did a nice job," Matheny said of Wacha's outing Saturday. "We knew we had to get him exposed at some point to some higher-leverage situations, and that was nice to get him in there and get us some big outs, more than anything else."
Infield shuffling extends to Descalso, Kozma at short
CHICAGO -- In explaining the timing behind Kolten Wong's promotion to the Majors on Friday, the Cardinals were clear in their intentions to play him regularly at second base. As expected, the left-handed-hitting infielder was back in the lineup Sunday against Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson.
The Cardinals have not been as explicit with their plans at shortstop, though Daniel Descalso's start on Sunday was further indication that he will continue to take time away from Pete Kozma. Could it be that a platoon -- much like the one expected to continue with Wong and David Freese -- is developing at shortstop, as well?
To that, manager Mike Matheny answered, "No. It's just day to day and see how we feel things match up."
Regardless of what it's termed, Descalso and Kozma's playing time has been even of late. Descalso has started eight games at short in August compared to Kozma's nine. This comes after Kozma was the starting shortstop in 90 of the team's first 106 games.
The Cardinals have long said they are comfortable sacrificing some offense to keep Kozma's glove in the field. He ranks fourth among all National League shortstops with an ultimate zone rating of 4.7 and has committed fewer errors than anyone with at least 100 starts at the position.
But with the Cardinals' offense enduring some recent ebbs and flows, the club has valued Descalso's bat more. All eight of his starts in August have come against right-handed pitchers, against whom Descalso enters Sunday hitting .269 with a .318 on-base percentage this year. Against lefties, he has a .196 average and OBP of .260.
"I think we have all become more comfortable with how Danny is playing, as well and how he's swinging the bat at times," Matheny said. "You're going to see both of them in there."
Roster turnover leaves Triple-A Memphis shorthanded
CHICAGO -- The bevy of roster moves the Cardinals have made over the past few weeks has had a residual effect on Triple-A Memphis, which has been left to do all sorts of reshuffling, itself.
The organization's priority isn't to win in Triple-A, but Memphis nonetheless remains in the Pacific Coast League playoff hunt. Despite having had 124 roster moves in 128 games this season, Memphis sits just four games behind division-leading Omaha entering Sunday. Nineteen players have made 43 trips between Memphis and St. Louis this season.
"It's been an adventure down there in Triple-A, at least from a rotation standpoint," said Tyler Lyons, the latest pitcher to join the big league club. "People have been just bouncing all over the place."
The rotation has been most affected lately with starters Michael Wacha and Lyons joining the Cardinals' bullpen. Carlos Martinez was up for a few days, too. Martinez has since returned to Triple-A, and director of Minor League operations John Vuch said that left-hander Nick Greenwood will permanently fill the other void in a rotation that is then rounded out by Scott McGregor, Nick Additon and Boone Whiting.
Additon is one of only three players to be active on Memphis' roster all season.
On Saturday, right-hander Eric Fornataro had to step in to make a spot start. It was the first of his 36 season appearances not to come in relief. Fornataro, one of five pitchers to appear in the game, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in two innings. Memphis lost, 5-4, and has now dropped five straight.
• For the first time since coming off the disabled list, Yadier Molina was in the lineup on consecutive days Sunday. Molina, who went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in Saturday's win, said that his right knee has so far responded well to his return behind the plate.
• The Cardinals announced that more than $100,000 was raised for the organization's charitable foundation at Sunday's fourth annual Cardinals Care 6K. The race, which had about 1,000 participants, has become a tribute to Stan Musial, whose No. 6 has long been retired by the Cardinals. Sunday's race started at the Musial Statue at 8:06 a.m. CT, and two of Musial's grandchildren ran in it. Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Cardinals pitcher Jason Motte helped hand out medals at the finish line.
• The Cardinals have still not stayed in the Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago Hotel since pitcher Darryl Kile was found dead from a heart attack in his room at that location during the Cardinals' June 2002 trip to Chicago. More than 10 years have passed since then, but for manager Mike Matheny, trips to Chicago continues to remind him of the tragedy that took the life of his former teammate.
He said he thought about Kile as he drove by the Westin on Sunday morning and refused to consider a dining recommendation that would have brought him back to the hotel.
"Somebody told me about the restaurant in the bottom floor and how good it was," said Matheny. "I told them I had no interest in going there. That was a bad day."
• The Brewers are scheduled to start the following pitchers during the Cardinals' upcoming three-game visit to Milwaukee: Marco Estrada (5-4, 4.71 ERA) on Monday, Kyle Lohse (8-8, 3.17 ERA) on Tuesday and Tom Gorzelanny (3-4, 2.95 ERA) on Wednesday. With Lohse going on Tuesday and Edwin Jackson pitching against the Cardinals on Sunday, St. Louis will face two pitchers who were on the its 2011 World Series championship club in a three-day span.
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.