I still believe the St. Louis Cardinals are going to win the National League Central Division, not because of what I have seen on the field, but because they are the best team on paper.
But the Redbirds are going to have to do something soon to prove that they deserve the crown.
The Cardinals continue to waste chances to take control of the division race, dropping series to losing teams, dropping series on their home field and otherwise shooting themselves in the foot at the least opportune times.
The only team in the central division to win more than half its games last week and a half was the Chicago Cubs who turned in a 6-4 record. The Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates turned in 5-5 marks and the Milwaukee Brewers were 4-6 thanks to losing their series at St. Louis two games to one.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Still, despite the small victory head to head with the first place Brewers, the Cardinals couldn't do anything to stand out. Instead, they were down in the mud with the others, putting up their own disappointing 5-5 record over the last 10 games.
This week is the week that the Birds need to seize control. They play the hapless Boston Red Sox who will send three pitchers to the mound who have won a combined six games in 2014.
Tuesday starter Rubby De La Rosa is 3-4 with a 3.64 ERA. But he is a lefty against a St. Louis batting order that, without Allen Craig, is even more stacked with left-handed hitters than it was a week ago. Even with Jon Jay sitting, the Birds will field lefties Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras and Matt Adams on a regular basis.
On Wednesday Joe Kelly will face his former mates -- and his best pal, Shelby Miller -- in what is sure to be an emotionally-charged game. Kelly is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA after getting bombed in his most recent St. Louis appearance.
Brandon Workman (1-1, 4.08) will start the final game of the series Thursday. He'll face Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright who will, hopefully, be seeking revenge after he was smoked his last start, raising his ERA from 1.92 to 2.26.
While the Cardinals are playing a pitching depleted Red Sox team, the Brewers will host the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants who are battling for first place in the National League West.
If the California clubs can take a bite out of the Brewers -- and the Redbirds can finally get the ball rolling against Boston and on a road trip to Baltimore, it could finally get the ball rolling and help the Birds lock up a decent playoff seed.
But, if they don't get their act together and start stringing together some wins, the Cardinals could find their fallback position is battling for the second wild card seed and a tough one-game playoff against the loser in the race between LA and the Giants.