Thrilled with the results, the St. Louis Cardinals thanked Mike Shildt.
The Cardinals took off the interim tag from Shildt’s title and promoted him to full-time manager on Tuesday, a reward for steering the team back into postseason contention after taking over for the fired Mike Matheny.
In danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the late ’90s, the Cardinals have gone 26-12 since July 15, including a 19-5 mark in August. St. Louis now holds the top spot in the NL wild-card standings.
The Cardinals were 47-46 when Matheny was fired a day before the All-Star break. Since then, they have the most wins in the majors. They’ve also cut their deficit in the NL Central from 7 1/2 games to 4 1/2 behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs.
“The team’s focused, high-level style of play under Mike is a standard that his teams consistently displayed during his prior years in the minors, and it has continued here at the major league level,” Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt said.
The Cardinals made the move before playing Pittsburgh at Busch Stadium. St. Louis has won five of six, all on the road, and have won each of their last nine series overall.
The 50-year-old Shildt, who never played in the minors or majors, joined the Cardinals organization in 2004. He spent most of that time managing in the minors and was a member of the major league coaching staff the past two seasons.
Shildt became the 50th manager in franchise history when he was given the job on an interim basis.
St. Louis missed the playoffs the last two years. Matheny reached the postseason in his first four years since following Tony La Russa, who guided the Cardinals to the 2011 World Series championship.
“Over the past 15 years, Mike has been mentored by many great baseball men including George Kissell, Tony La Russa and Mark DeJohn. Now he has an opportunity to share his insights throughout the entire organization,” Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said.
An organization that has longed prided itself on playing the game right — “the Cardinal Way,” the team says — St. Louis has done well in all phases since Shildt took over.
With veterans Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter provided a steadying presence and an influx of rookies and newcomers, the Cardinals are back in position as October contenders.
Second baseman Kolten Wong has seen the difference, especially since the switch in the dugout.
“Shildt’s been really good at letting us play our own game and letting us play the way we want to play. That’s the biggest thing,” Wong said last week after a sweep at Dodger Stadium. “We have so many different personalities and different guys in this clubhouse. You just have to allow people to be themselves and eventually people are going to mesh together.”
Shildt likes what he’s seen.
“These guys have ability and they have aggression. They believe in themselves and they’re in attack mode,” Shildt recently said. “It’s about not giving in, regardless of the situation.”
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