Today the unthinkable happened– the Cardinals fell into a tie for second place in the NL Central.
The Cardinals’ series loss to the Dodgers (losing 3/4) has caused them to fall back in the NL central. There is no question that this is a major blow to the clubhouse. The Cardinals have been hunting the Brewers all season and may soon be hunting the Reds as well. The Cardinals should be in a “win at all cost” mindset coming into the next two series against the Giants and the Marlins respectively.
Although the Birds should be concerned, there may be a little bit of breathing room for two major reasons as the season progresses. First, the next two series give the Cardinals room to take advantage. The Giants have a win loss record of 46-36 but have lost their last four games, all to the Reds. This momentum killer is crucial and could put them behind the Dodgers in the NL West for good. The Giants were not projected to be as strong at the beginning of the season as they were a week ago. This could be the end of their dominance on ESPN’s power rankings (top 5 all June). The Marlins series should also be easy. The Birds come back home to play a 39-43 club. The series should have similar results to the beatdown the Cardinals gave to the Rockies last week.
A second major factor is that the Reds are in a winning streak in which they smashed the Giants. Our new rivals have won 14 of their last 18 games. They have not had this much success all season. A contributor to their surge may be the weakness of their opponents during these sets. They took 2/3 from Pittsburg (a .500 team), 2/3 from Toronto, 2/3 from the Cubs, and swept the Giants in four games. The only truly impressive feat was the sweep over the Giants. The Reds have had an easy schedule so far and will not stand up to the Cardinals in future series one on one.
The problem lies in the short term, however. The Reds open up a three game series with the Padres (35-47) who many would argue are the worst team in the NL. They have a tough three-game set against the Brewers but immediately follow it with a five-game series against the Cubs (34-46). They should continue to win in the near future, but will have a tough stretch after the All Star Break.
Moral of the story: the Cardinals may drop to third if they do not pick up the pace by picking up more batters.