The St. Louis Cardinals seem determined to make things interesting in the National League Central Race.
After swelling their lead to 6 1/2 games over the Pittsburgh Pirates with a productive West Coast trip, the Redbirds came home, where they had a dominating record, to play the Pirates and the third place Cubs.
Then they managed to lose four out of five. And now both the Pirates and the Cubs are back in the hunt for the division title.
It’s not that they lost that is the most disturbing thing. Worse is the fact that the Cardinals have looked totally lifeless at the plate and their dominating pitching has suddenly become decidedly mediocre.
The Birds need to make a good showing Wednesday afternoon in the finale against the Cubs to get back on decent footing. That’s not going to be easy with Chicago ace Jon Lester on the hill. But the Cardinals used up all their cushion in the home stand and can’t afford another loss.
This will just be a distant memory if the Cardinals can right the ship in the coming days. While it’s disappointing to see St. Louis drop the ball against its main challenger, the Birds have seven games against the bottom dwelling Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers before taking on the Cubs for three more at Wrigley Field.
In short, the Redbirds still firmly control their own destiny. They don’t need outside help. They just need to put the last week behind them.