On August 1 of this year, our beloved Redbirds where sitting in third place in the division, and fighting for a playoff spot. One month later, the Cardinals are tied for first with a solid chance of playing in October for the fourth straight year. For many of the Cardinal Nation faithful, this is just about where we would expect to find the home team, so allow me to walk you down memory lane of the past up and down month.
The Cardinals opened the month in a series against the division leading Brewers where Adam Wainwright would suffer the first of his four losses of the month. A loss here or there was nothing scary to see from Waino, but as the month went on it would become clear that something was off and this was not the ace the city is used to seeing. But thankfully, over the next two games the bats would come alive, out hitting the Brewers in game two of the series and John Lackey keeping the Brewers at bay in the third, while the Cardinals squeaked by with a 3-2 win to take the first series of August.
The Cardinals then entered into a highly anticipated series against the Red Sox at home where they took two of three again. There was cause for concern in that one loss. Trevor Rosenthal loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth while the score stood at one a piece, eventually getting his sixth loss of the season, a hard number to look at for a closer.
The next two series were especially hard to watch. The first was against the Baltimore Orioles, who took the first two games, out scoring the Cardinals 22-5 in those two losses. The pitchers were Masterson and Lackey, who had been acquired through a trade at the deadline in late July. Seeing the new guys get blown up in their second outing for my team made me wonder if these were the guys I wanted to see going to battle against the best in October. After all, Orioles is leading the division and looks like they could cruise to the playoffs. Then came a series against the Miami Marlins where the Redbirds lost another two games, one in which our bats were silenced in a 3-0 loss, letting Wainwright down as he did all he could, and holding the Marlins to just three runs.
Nearly halfway through the month and the Cardinals are still floundering, making no ground in the division. But just when it seemed our team was destined to be stuck in the middle of the pack, everything appeared to click in a seven game home stand against the Padres and Reds, winning six of seven, even having two walk offs in a row against the Reds. By the time the Cardinals entered the back half of the month, the Pirates had lost seven straight allowing the Cardinals to go ahead of them by four games, and only sit a game and a half out of first in the division.
But alas, the series sweep against the Reds (the first sweep in two months) would be the last series win for the month. Losing six of the next eight, it seemed like the Cardinals were blowing an opportunity to make up ground. The Brewers were playing no better, perhaps even worse, than our home team, losing eight of their last ten. If the Cardinals wanted to gain ground they would need to get their act together against the lowly Cubs and hope for a split series. Meanwhile, the Pirates were taking advantage of a stumbling Brewers team; the Bucs took seven of their last ten putting them within striking distance of the top of the division.
Going into the last game of the month, the top three teams of the division were separated by just one game. The Brewers continued to struggle against a tough Giants team and the Pirates couldn’t finish the sweep of the Reds. After an explosive offense the night before to easily take game three of the series, the city was ready for the bats to come alive. And that seems to be exactly what they got…from the Cubs. However, staying true to the name from the 2011 season, the Cardiac Cards fought their way back from a 5-0 deficit to take the last game of the series 9-6.
As stated at the top of the article, the Cardinals are tied for first place going into the most exciting month of regular season sports. September is where we see the hot teams burn up on their way to October, or we see them crash and burn, essentially wasting the previous months of excellent play. I think it is safe to say the Cardinals can’t waste their excellent play, being as there was none. To me, that gives them one choice. Before you can have a hot September, you need to start in August. The Cardinals did just that. Our home team will continue to put winning streaks together, somehow, and again make this year a red October.
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