This had the potential to be a much, much bigger series.
The fate of the entire universe was supposed to be decided this weekend, but given recent (shocking) events, the Reds find themselves eight games up, and the Cardinals are grasping at straws in the wild card chase.
St Louis recently completed a 2-8 stretch against the woeful Pirates, Nationals, and Astros, and the Reds have taken full advantage of that skid. Coming off the successful 6-3 West Coast trip, they won five out of six against the Cubs and Brewers at home.
Tony LaRussa's decision to align the rotation so that Carpenter/Wainwright/Garcia would pitch against the Reds looks bad in hindsight. They could have used someone more efficient than Jeff Suppan in their series finale against the Astros.
Now, the Cardinals need a sweep. Their season may depend on it. If the Reds even so much as win a game, they would maintain a seven-game lead with less than 30 games to play.
Before we get too overconfident, lets look at the New York Mets as a recent example of a team who blew a huge division lead. It can happen. We have to continue to play Cincinnati Reds' baseball, because nothing is guaranteed until the division title is clinched.
Additionally, as badly as the Cardinals have struggled, we all know how well they have fared against Cincinnati. Following this weekend visit is a trip to Colorado. Critics point out that this team doesn't fare well against winning teams, so this is a chance to silence some of them.
Kick a team while they are down. Don't give them an ounce of daylight. I feel that St. Louis still has a good squad, and all they need is a little momentum to get the ball rolling. Carpenter and Wainwright have had a lot of success against the Reds, and have pitched in big spots.
Brandon Phillips had his choice comments a few weeks ago about the Cardinals. I think it's a bit over the top to suggest that they saw that, and THEN ramped up their efforts in sweeping that series. Athletes are pretty motivated people in general.
However, looking back, did they place all their eggs into that one basket? Did they leave their heart and soul back at Great American Ballpark?
Regardless of what's transpired since then, it should be a fun weekend, and there is still a lot that the Reds need to prove.