If you are as dedicated to the Cardinals as we at Arch City Sports are, then you are well aware that the MLB regular season ends on Sunday. As it stands now, the Cardinals are still on top of the division and the magic number stands at 5 (magic number meaning a combination of Pirates losses and Cardinals wins clinches the division title). While this seems like a hard number to swallow with only six games left, this division is still within the Redbirds grasp. September ball is a different type of beast. Every loss feels heavier. Every win is more triumphant because it brings us that much closer to playing in October. These next six games could be some of the most difficult games to watch because of how close the end of the season is. Yes, we are already living in a red October but that one game playoff is daunting. Those games make me nervous; there is no next time if an error is made and the game is lost. We cannot rely on an infield fly every time we play in the wildcard game.
However scary it is to have a team like the Pirates right behind us, we still have a bit of luck on our side. Our first of the last two series is against the Cubs who currently sit last in the division. Our pitchers for those games are Wainwright, Miller and Lackey respectively. While Lackey has seemingly either pitched a gem or dud, I think his last outing showed the Cardinal Nation what type of pitcher we have when he shows up to play. The last series of the season is against the Diamond Backs, who are currently sitting in last place in the National League and if that doesn’t make you feel good, the Cardinals have not lost against them all season.
The Pirates have a bit of a tougher last week. For one, they have not had a break since September 15, and they will not get one for the rest of the season (Cardinals have this Thursday off). They also play better teams than the Cardinals play. While the Braves and Reds do not have winning records, they are still formidable foils for any team. The Pirates have lost their first series against the Braves and are only 6-10 against the Reds. Not to mention both series are on the road where Pittsburgh is 33-41.
This will mark the fourth straight post season the Cardinals will play in, and there was no waltz into the previous three. I do not need to remind you of an epic, franchise defining, comeback in 2011. 10.5 games out of the wildcard, gets in the last day, wins the World Series. In 2012 the Cardinals only got into the post season because of the rule change allowing two wild card teams to face off before moving into series play. The Cardinals first had the second wildcard spot on August 22 of that year and finally clinched it on the second to last day of the regular season, that is 41 days of teams like the Dodgers, Brewers, and Pirates right on their tail. And here is something that should sound familiar. Last year the on September 22, the Cardinals were up two games on the Reds and Pirates and had already clinched a playoff spot. Our home team would go on to win four straight to clinch the division in a home game against the Cubs.
With just a week left, the only for sure thing is the Cardinals get at least one more game. One of the best parts about living in a town with such rich history of a baseball franchise is as fans, we see it all. We see the collapses and we see the comebacks. If the Pirates are able to overtake the birds, then it is because the Buccos have been playing just as good, if not better ball than the Cardinals. Both teams are very hot right now and are on similar paths, this is another season that is coming down to the wire and the only thing the Cardinals can do to control their own fate is to win. Which as of late they have been able to do in all aspects of the game. The saying is old, tired but it is true. The only sure things in life are death, taxes, and Cardinals in October.