Still, the Cardinals are in a position to run out the clock on the competition. And, thanks to the help of the San Diego Padres who took two of three from the Chicago Cubs, that’s exactly what they did.
Pitching is vital to the hopes of playoff teams and it wasn’t the hurlers who let the Cardinals down. The offense, which had been so hot, went dormant in the Mile High air. Specifically, Paul DeJong had a bad series at the plate. He left runners at third with less than one out multiple times. A sacrifice fly here and a single there and things could have been different. It’s hard to complain when DeJong has been so good all season long.
Psychologically, it’s tough on trailing teams to have the opportunity to gain valuable ground placed in front of them — but then be able to do nothing about it.
At least if you’re winning, you’ve still got a good shot at the wild card. But the Cubs have been caught in the standings by the Milwaukee Brewers and they’re suddenly in a position where they could easily miss the post season entirely.
If the Cardinals were going to lose a series, I’d prefer they dropped it to the Rockies than to a division foe. As frustrating as it was to get throttled — twice — by terrible starting pitchers, it’s much more important to win the divisional games left. If St. Louis can take two out of three against Milwaukee, the Brewers are probably going to be playing for a wild card spot while the Cubs could gain a maximum of one game. If St. Louis loses two of three to Milwaukee, the Central Division could get uncomfortably tight.
I’d really like to see the Cardinals pull away and make things a bit more comfortable. But, on the other hand, maintaining a four-game lead into the last week or 10 days of the season may help to battle harden a St. Louis team with a lot of young players for the October baseball that lies ahead.
It’s true that Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright have World Series rings, as does Dexter Fowler with another team. But DeJong, Tommy Edman Marcell Ozuna and even Paul Goldschmidt are a little short on postseason experience. He’s played all of eight playoff games, none of them past the NLDS.
It would be nice to have a breather. But it might be better to keep fighting until the end.