If the St. Louis Cardinals are going to make their move in the National League Central, the time to do that would be now.
The Redbirds play eight of their next eleven series from now through the end of August against teams with losing records. Seven of the 11 series will be played on the Busch Stadium turf. And, if those advantages aren't enough, the weary St. Louis pitching staff ought to be able to get plenty of rest with five days off in that span. The Cardinals have two days off in the next week, one on Monday and another on Thursday.
After the excuses about too many early season road games and a lot of games against tough teams while Milwaukee seemed to be playing the Cubs or the then-struggling Pirates every time one turned around in the first month of the season, now it is time for things to even out.
But it isn't going to be a cake walk. And, if the Cardinals fail to capitalize on this opportunity, they could be toast by the time September rolls around.
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First up are the Los Angeles Dodgers, probably the best team in the National League at this point. Curiously, the Redbirds have announced that ace Adam Wainwright won't play in that series as he gets some extra rest. Seriously? He's going to sit during what could be the mood-setting series for the second half? I hope the ace's elbow hasn't flared up again to prompt this move.
After the Dodgers depart, the Tampa Bay Rays come to town, possibly with David Price still a member of the team. The Rays stand nine games under .500 at 44-55. But they've been hot lately as they try to force their way back into the American League East race. They beat a pretty solid Toronto Blue Jays squad two games out of three just before the break. Before that they dropped two out of three to the Kansas City Royals but swept the American League favorite Detroit Tigers in a three-game set. They took two of three from the New York Yankees to start July and two of three from the first-place Baltimore Orioles to end June.
After Tampa leaves town, the Birds travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs (40-54) at Wrigley Field and the San Diego Padres (41-54) at Petco Park.
It would be nice if the Cardinals could use this weak spot in the schedule to catch and pass the Brewers because when those games are done they'll host Milwaukee for three, potentially with the division lead on the line. It would sure be nice to find a way to win seven out of the first 10 games after the break.