July 7: Pirates (47-41) @ Cardinals (47-42)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

wpid-img_20140707_153316374.jpgOne more week remains before the All-Star break, and the week sets up to be an important one for a Cardinals team that continues to tread water. First up are four games against the Pirates, who arrived in St. Louis as the NL Central’s second place team. The Cardinals have dropped to third for the first time since the second week of the season.

A three-game series on the road against first-place Milwaukee looms this weekend. How the Cardinals fare over these next seven games will determine their division positioning heading into the season’s second half.

Adam Wainwright gets the start today seeking to become the NL’s first 12-game winner and looking to hold his spot as the league’s starting pitching ERA leader (1.89 through 17 starts).

The bullpen gets a boost with today’s addition of Tyler Lyons, who takes Marco Gonzales’ roster spot. Gonzales returns to Triple-A, where he will start. Lyons, who was starting for Memphis, is here in St. Louis to pitch in relief. The Cardinals are then leaning toward bringing Joe Kelly back on Friday to make the start against the Brewers. Kelly has been on the DL since suffering an injury to his left hamstring in Milwaukee on April 16.

In other rotation news, Michael Wacha (right shoulder stress reaction) had his shoulder reevaluated with an MRI, which did show improvement. It was not enough, though, to clear Wacha to throw again. He’ll rest for another two weeks, general manager John Mozeliak said, after which the team will do another scan. The Cardinals still do expect to have Wacha back on the mound this year.

Kevin Siegrist (left forearm/shoulder strain) threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session today and said afterward that he felt great. He plans to throw another bullpen session on Wednesday (that one at 100 percent intensity) and then head out on a Minor League rehab assignment.

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