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Next two weeks crucial for Cardinals, injuries or not

There is no doubt that the St. Louis Cardinals have had more than there share of bad luck this season when it comes to injuries.

They’ve lost ace Adam Wainwright, cleanup hitter Matt Adams, slugging left fieler Matt Holliday (twice), slugging centerfielder Randal Grichuk (twice), lefty starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, relievers Jordan Walden and Matt Belisle and top pitching prospect Marco Gonzales to time on the disabled list.

But this is no time for the team to start feeling sorry for itself. The Redbirds still have plenty of talent on their active roster to hold onto their lead in the National League Central Division.

While the injuries have sapped the team’s power, there is no reason the players who are left shouldn’t be able to hit enough to win. The problem is that they need not only to get on base - but to become more proficient in manufacturing runs.

I understand that the team isn’t going to hit many balls over the boards for the remainder of this season. But it pitches well enough that if it could get a run here and there by drawing a walk or hitting a single then moving the runners up with bunts, hit and runs and stolen bases, it ought to be able to scratch out enough offense to win some games until Holliday, Grichuk and Adams are back in the mix.

St. Louis players need to be smarter at the plate, cutting down the strikeouts in favor of productive outs.

While the Cardinals have enjoyed a stretch against teams that haven’t been very good this season, the rest of August and beginning of September aren’t going to be as easy.

After concluding a home series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, the Birds head to the West Coast to play San Diego, Arizona and the Giants again.

The Giants are fighting for a playoff spot, the Diamondbacks are near .500 and can score a lot of runs and the Padres aren’t too far behind Arizona in the standings. Plus they play in one of the toughest parks in baseball for hitters.

When the calender turns to September, the Birds play three against the Washington Nationals, three against the Pittsburgh Pirates and three against the Chicago Cubs.

So this is definitley not the time to let their guard down.

A good showing over the next two weeks could put the division title away. A stumble could turn five months of domination into a four-week, three-team drag race to the finish.