After the Cardinals swept Atlanta, all fans everywhere began to hope they could catch the Braves for the Wild Card. Even the most die-hard had at that point realized catching Milwaukee just wasn’t going to happen. Those same fans, however, looked at the remaining schedule and saw Mt Everest standing in the way of the Cardinals and a miracle finish: the Philadelphia Phillies.
They are the best team in baseball right now, and the Cardinals would play them in their yard. St Louis had won 3 of 5 at Busch, but this was different. And the Phillies would be looking to clinch their division.
Hope Dashed? Not even close. Roy Oswalt dominated the Cardinals has he so often seems to do, but the boys in Red found a way to beat super rookie Vance Worley, and rotation bullies Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, taking 3 of 4 from Philly in Philly.
To call that result unexpected is an understatement. I daresay, even the most ardent Cardinals fan hoped for a split of these 4 games, and given the Braves were playing the woeful Mets in Atlanta, that might have been enough to sink their push for good.
Not so. Thanks to an improbable Florida come back win last night, the Cardinals find themselves only 2 out on the loss side with 9 to play. They actually made up 2 games in the standings during their trip through Philadelphia.
Atlanta can profess they’re not looking over their shoulder all they want. No one believes them. The back of their bullpen, one of baseball’s best in 2011, has suddenly shown large cracks, likely due to overuse. This race is certainly not decided, not by a long shot.
All the Cardinals can do now is all they could do before. They have to win every game, and hope for help. The Marlins showed last night they remain a dangerous team, and they’ve lined up their rotation to throw their best 2 pitchers at the Braves in the next 2 days. Winning keeps the pressure on Atlanta. Keep winning.
St Louis has six games at home and a series with the league’s worst team remaining. Philadelphia, who played most of their starters on Sunday and Monday because of the playoff implications surrounding that game, has 3 at the end of the season with Atlanta. Hopefully two things will be true for that final series: the Cardinals will still be alive for the wild card, and Charlie Manuel will play his regulars against the Braves to honor the playoff run.
St Louis is on the downslope, and gathering steam. Attention Atlanta: the Cardinals are coming. You might as well get out of the way now.