The last two months have been rough on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Of the 29 games played by the Cardinals in August, 20 were against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. They managed to stay afloat through the stretch going 11-9 against those teams.
The games that hurt them were the ones against their closest division rivals, which make the weekend’s sweep against the Pittsburgh Pirates all the more important.
In August, the Cardinals split with the Pirates going 3-3 against them. Although that’s not a bad record against a division rival, the Cardinals failed to take a dominant hold of the division when given the opportunity.
This weekend they took that opportunity, and the odds are in their favor from here on out.
Of the 18 remaining games, all are against sub-.500 teams, and 12 of them will take place at Busch Stadium. They have winning records against all of them.
There are six remaining games against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals own the season series against them 10-3. That’s a solid opportunity to pad their win total and hang on to their lead.
Another four games remain against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Cardinals managed only eight runs over three games there earlier this season, but it was enough to take two of three in the Mile High City.
A three-game series this week against the Seattle Mariners will mark the only time they have faced Seattle this season.
The Cardinals schedule, however, doesn’t tell the entire story.
They have yet to play Texas, and they have a losing record against the Reds this season.
A six-game series against the Cubs, although it might sound nice to them on the surface, in reality might not be so easy. The Cubs are 7-5 against the Pirates in 2013 and to take back the division, the Pirates will need those games.
Sure, they’re winning the season series, but they’ll need to dominate the Cubs and the San Diego Padres to climb back atop the division.
In the end, for the Reds to overtake the Pirates wouldn’t take any stretch of the imagination. The Cardinals and Reds are clearly in better position to gain a hold on the division and wild-card spots.
The Cardinals are coming out of these last two series strong and find themselves in a much better position than they were just a few days ago.
As of now, the Cardinals don’t have to climb—they just have to hold on tight.