When Cardinals starter Lance Lynn takes the mound Wednesday against the Mets, he'll be seeking to continue a trend that he started five days prior.
Since Lynn tossed eight scoreless innings last Friday, the Cardinals have won a season-best five straight games. He and his fellow starters have combined to allow four runs (three earned) in the last five starts.
"The starting pitching has been terrific. That's our staple," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We have to have that. Other days, we're going to have to scratch out just enough. You saw a couple 1-0 wins here lately where a little bit of power was just enough and there was a good mix of defense and bullpen to make it happen."
The trend of shutdown pitching has the Cardinals a season-high seven games above .500 and in line for a sweep of Bartolo Colon and the Mets on Wednesday at Busch Stadium. It would be the team's second sweep in as many series.
Much like the Cardinals' rotation has settled into a groove as of late, so, too, has the 41-year-old Colon.
The Mets right-hander, in the midst of his 17th season in the Majors, has rattled off five straight outings in which he has allowed two earned runs or fewer. The result has been quality starts in four of his last five appearances (4-0) and a 1.78 ERA over that span.
"A little representation for the 40s?" Colon said after his last outing, in which he lasted 7 1/3 innings and allowed two runs against the Padres.
Colon's counterpart Wednesday has searched for that consistency. While Lynn tossed eight scoreless innings in his last start and recorded the first complete game of his professional career on May 27, in the two starts between those outings, Lynn took two losses while allowing nine runs (six earned) in just 8 1/3 innings.
After walking eight hitters in those two losses, Lynn's command was on the mark in his last start as he allowed just two baserunners, both via singles.
"When things are going well like it was today, you couldn't ask for anything better," Matheny said after the win. "I didn't see pressure, I didn't see him being distracted. He looked like he was focused on making good pitches."
Mets: Duda not just a platoon bat
Though first baseman Lucas Duda entered Tuesday's play batting merely .152 with a .434 OPS against left-handed pitchers, don't look for the Mets to begin regularly pinch-hitting for him late in games. Manager Terry Collins said he is still hoping to unlock the success that Duda had against same-sided pitchers early in his career, notably batting .274 with a .715 OPS off them in 2011.
"The issue is I've seen him do it," Collins said. "When people say he can't hit lefties, there's part of me that doubts that. I don't believe necessarily that's a fact, because I saw him do it. It's just [Duda's] approach is different today than it was a few years ago. That's what we're trying to get him to understand."
Still, Duda's overall body of work is telling. He owns an .815 career OPS against right-handed pitchers, compared to just .623 vs. lefties. Collins said that he would consider pinch-hitting for Duda late in games in some situations, but more as an exception than a rule.
Cardinals: Carpenter gets a day of rest
Matt Carpenter had started 69 of the Cardinals' first 70 games this season before Tuesday, when Matheny sensed it was time to give his leadoff hitter a break.
"Yesterday it kind of came to a head midgame, and I knew it was most likely going to be an opportunity to give him a day," Matheny said. "I talked to him last night and he fought me a little bit. Then I think he realized, all things considered, a day game tomorrow, him starting to grind a little bit, it just made for a good day."
Carpenter's last day out of the starting lineup was April 16, but even then he ultimately pinch-hit and played three innings. He is 1-for-14 on the team's current homestand.
Matheny also held Kolten Wong and Matt Adams out of the starting lineup with a left-hander on the mound, but both pinch-hit. All three players are expected to be back on the field as the Cardinals go for a sweep of the Mets.
• With Tuesday's 5-2 win against the Mets, the Cardinals are now 20-2 against the National League East in games played at Busch Stadium over the last two years.
• Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal was unavailable for the second straight day Tuesday after pitching in three consecutive games. He's expected to be available Wednesday.
• Colon has had success against current Cardinals hitters during his career. The team's hitters are a combined 17-for-80 (.213) lifetime against the right-hander.
• Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy is 5-for-11 (.455) in his career against Lynn.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.