It's been a good stretch for Brad Miller, but all good things must...well, you know.
As Miller contributed mightily Sunday to the Cardinals 8-3 win against Miami Sunday, the team was happy to learn that Paul DeJong is recovering quicker than expected from his severe hamstring strain, and may be able to return by the end of the coming week.
"I'm here to play in any way they need me," said Miller. "I've filled in at first, and now at short. However I can be useful."
And boy, was he useful Sunday, with his three-run homer and an RBI double accounting for half the Cards runs. And Matt Wieters, in a customary day-after-night catching start, knocked in a couple more.
Jack Flaherty was strong against a not-so-strong Marlins lineup. Going an easy seven innings on only 89 tosses, Flaherty was scored on in two innings but was hardly scratched in the rest. Seven hits, a couple walks and a plunked batter comprised maybe not his best level, but it was certainly good enough with the accompanying Redbirds offense.
John Brebbia was able to finish the last two innings with nary a hit and two walks, as the Cards ran their National League Central-leading record to 17-10.
The Cards only had to come from behind after the Marlins scored first, in the second inning on a Magneuris Sierra triple and Jorge Alfaro sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of that inning, though, Lane Thomas and Wieters got on with successive singles, and Miller drove a liner over the shortest part of the left-field fence. The homer cost Marlins starter the first three of the six runs he would surrender before departing after five innings.
With the score still 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Tommy Edman drew a one-out walk and Thomas followed with an opposite-field single to right, sending the speedy Edman to third. Thomas stole second and Wieters doubled into the right-field corner, swinging late on a Smith fastball.
No more scoring occurred until the fifth, when Flaherty grooved a too-fat fastball to Jonathan Villar, who drove both Corey Dickerson and himself in with a dead-center homer.
"That was a mistake, pure and simple," said Flaherty, who finished with a half dozen strikeouts and eight ground ball outs. "He's a good hitter, but that pitch would've been clobbered by a lot of major leaguers."
After Smith gave way to Adam Conley, the Cards expanded their lead in the sixth. Matt Carpenter doubled and Kolten Wong, moved up to the two-hole, singled him in for the sixth run. Edman struck out with Wong stealing second, Thomas popped out, and Wieters walked, after which Miller doubled Wong home.
The final Cards run came in the eighth on an Edman solo shot.
Miller will have plenty of opportunities, said manager Mike Shildt. "We can fit him in all around the infield, and that's such a luxury to have, especially with (Paul Goldschmidt) still out for a few more weeks."
DeJong is expected to start taking swings early in the week, and to field ground balls by Thursday or so. He could return on Satuday.
"It'll be great to have Paul back," said Miller. "There's nothing like having your everyday guy in the lineup, and he plays such an outstanding shortstop, too. I'll gladly return to the supersub role."
Next Up and Notes: The Cards hit the road for seven against San Diego and Milwaukee. After having a day off last Thursday, the team is in the middle of 13 days without a break. The Padres have started the season particularly well and the Brewers are hanging right behind the second-place Reds in the Central, and ahead of the Chicago Cubs.