The Cardinals need another bench clearing brawl to light a fire under them. I’m sure I was just like many of the experts and many of the Cardinal fans who thought Cincinnati would wilt under the pressure of losing a two game lead and getting swept at home by the Cardinals earlier this month. Maybe the Cardinals thought the same thing.
Since that sweep, the Cardinals have struggled going 5-10. What hurts about this slump is not just the fact that the Cardinals have slipped five games behind the Reds, but the fact that they’ve lost series to Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Washington…a combined 90 games under .500.
When you look at the Cardinals remaining schedule, you would think it favors them. 18 games will be played against the division’s bottom four teams, but they also have series with division leaders Cincinnati next weekend, Atlanta and San Diego later in the month and the season’s final series against Colorado who is just a game and a half behind St. Louis in the Wild Card standings.
I do think baseball has a way of evening out over the course of 162 games, so there is a part of me that feels that the Cardinals can bounce back against the division’s bottom feeders (St. Louis still has an above .500 record against the Central Division). My concern is, throwing in a makeup game at Florida on Monday September 20th, the Cardinals will finish the season with 31 straight games and with just one off day (this Thursday), a run of 44 games in 45 days.
Meanwhile, the Reds are an amazing 36-22 against teams in the Central Division and they unfortunately have 21 of their final 32 games against division rivals, plus a four game series against last place Arizona. The Reds will also play four games against Colorado and three against San Diego.
Will it be the Cardinals who wilt in September because of a grueling season, or do the Reds stumble down the stretch?