The St. Louis Cardinals are finally showing signs of things coming together -- with less than a month and a half to go in the 2014 season.
The disappointing under achievers improved to a season-high 12 games over .500 with a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. And, before naysayers dismiss Cincy as a team in a funk that lost four of five on its way into town, the Redbirds had to beat some pretty tough pitchers on their way to three in a row over Cincinnati and seven wins in their last eight games.
Up to the last few days, the Cardinals were the team against which sagging team's bats got healthy.
The big difference between the Birds of now and the team that lurched out of the gate after the All-Star Game break is that, suddenly, St. Louis is getting hits with two outs in scoring position and late in games. The Cardinals have apparently become tired of rolling over in the ninth inning.
Not only are starters Jon Jay and Jhonny Peralta surging. But the Cardinals are getting valuable production from utility infielder Daniel Descalso and outfielder Shane Robinson who have largely been missing in action all season.
Milwaukee was hoping to frustrate the Redbirds by matching them win for win. But a loss against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday gave St. Louis a chance to whittle its National League Central Division deficit to a game and a half with an off day on Thursday. That's well within striking distance. Especially since the Birds still have seven games to play against the team they trail.
As frustrating as this season has been, the Cardinals only trail the Washington Nationals by three games in the win column for the best record -- and home field advantage throughout the playoffs -- in the National League. The Dodgers and Brewers are each two games ahead of the Birds in the win column.
The Cardinals have the number two starter they've missed with the addition of John Lackey and it seems that young impact hurler Michael Wacha is doing better than expected in his attempt to come back from a shoulder blade injury. They have the horses they need on the mound, including ace Adam Wainwright and greatly improved starter Lance Lynn.
After all the frustration, a big push now fueled by the offense hitting like we've known it's capable all along could be all it takes to send the Cardinals and their fans into another magical post season.