Coming off a disappointing home sweep by the Nationals, the Cardinals (12-13) look to right the ship against the Phillies (15-10) in a 4-game series at Busch Stadium.

There wasn’t much that went right in this past weekend’s series. The Cardinals played another team with a record above .500 in the Nationals and, again, they simply didn’t perform. Though the 12-13 record is a little concerning at this point, the biggest concern right now should be the fact that the Cardinals can’t beat winning teams.

All is not right in Cardinal’s nation. The Cardinals have lost their last 4 games and and 5 of their last 7. Unfortunately, the Cardinals have lost each of the last couple games in different ways. Against the Diamondbacks, one of the losses came because the bullpen completely blew up and gave up 9 runs in a pivotal 6th inning. Against the Nationals, the losses came because the starting pitching wasn’t very good compare compared to the starts Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross, and Max Scherzer gave the visiting team, and the team’s offense looked stagnant and lathargic, scoring only 1 run in each of the last two games.

If the Cardinals want to turn things around and stay within striking distance of the Cubs (17-6) and the Pirates (15-10), they will have to beat one of the hottest teams and one of the biggest surprises in the MLB: the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies have won their last 6 games and 9 of their last 10 games, including a sweep of the Nationals. The Phillies haven’t been that spectacular this year in any statistical category, but they’ve simply found ways to win games. Their hitting is ranked 26th in the MLB, 14th in pitching, and 10th in fielding.

The Phillies likely can’t keep winning games at the pace they are right now, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are playing good baseball. The team has given up 3 or less runs in 7 of the last 9 games and the offense has scored 3 or more runs in 7 of the last 8 games. Those trends translate to good fundamental baseball; the type of baseball the Cardinals have always played and need to start playing again.

Against the Phillies, the Cardinals will send out Adam Wainwright (7.16 ERA), Michael Wacha (3.07), Mike Leake (5.83), and Jaime Garcia (3.73). If the Cardinals want to win this series, Wainwright and Leake will both need to have their best performances of the year. They simply haven’t looked good at all. Wacha also needs to perform well in his start but so far this season, he has been relatively dependable. Garcia has been very reliable minus the one bad inning against the Nationals the other day (4 ER). The Cardinals simply can’t afford to lose another series.

Yes, yesterday was the first day of May. Yes, there are 5 more months of baseball. But, for now, the Cardinals have looked very average. In the city of St. Louis, “average” simply doesn’t cut it. The team needs to make the playoffs. Here’s to a good May.

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports