Joey Votto, nor any of the Cincinnati Reds, needed a hit to cut their magic number to seven on Monday afternoon as the St. Louis Cardinals were shut out by the Florida Marlins in a make-up game played due to an early August rain-out.
Quick definition of the magic number: Any combination of Reds wins or Cardinals losses. For example, if the Reds win on Monday night in Milwaukee the number drops to six. If they lose, it remains at seven.
Either way, if one is looking for some longshot odds—take the Cards as the NL Central champs.
As mentioned earlier the Reds start a three-game set in Milwaukee on Monday night. After an off day, they play three in San Diego. After another off day, they come back home for three against Houston and a regular season-ending series, again vs. the Brewers.
Thus far this season, the Reds have a combined record of 22-6 against the aforementioned clubs.
Contrary to the Reds rest and favorable record against the opposition, the Cards, who have not had an off day since Sept. 2 and will not have that luxury for the remainder of the regular season.
In large part due to Monday's make-up game, St. Louis will have played a nearly unprecedented 31 games in a row to finish the season.
That's a lot of jet setting with minimal rest. Making matters worse on Tony La Russa's team, they have a combined record of 16-17 against the teams they will face in their final 13 games.
The Reds are winners of only five of their last 15 ballgames. Still though, thanks in large part to Mother Nature's cruelty and the Cardinals schedule, they are primed for their first divisional championship since 1995 when they were swept by the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.
Unlike the American League, where it does not take an MIT mathematician to get a general idea of who will be playing where and against which teams, the National League is a jumbled mess.
In the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies are easily the hottest in all of baseball. Starting Monday night, they go against the second-place (and wild card hopeful) Atlanta Braves.
They also play the Braves in their final season series. Not a good time to be playing the Phils.
The Reds have all but won the Central. It would take a Reds collapse of Roman Empire proportions combined with a Cardinals streak of Robert Opel proportions for the Reds to lose.
The NL Wild Card probably will not be decided until the final weekend of the the regular season. And the post-season schedule can not be determined until then.
It's ironic that the coldest contender has pretty definitely clinched their division.
Can the Reds win it all? Of course they can.
All it takes a party invite and three series wins to be crowned World Champions.