It just might be time to start thinking about the 2012 season. Though Monday’s loss could easily be shrugged off as “just one game,” the Cardinals have run out of time for that type of talk.
Reality check, Cardinal Nation: The Milwaukee Brewers are going to the playoffs. The Red Birds are 6 games out of 1st place with 40 games to go. Though St. Louis plays Milwaukee 6 more times, they’d be lucky just to split vs a team they’ve beaten only 4 times out of 12 this year. Other than those games against the Cardinals, the Brewers play a team with a winning record just 4 times in its other 34 games. Forget about the division, it’s over.
The good news is… the Atlanta Braves are still within reach. At least they were before Monday night’s unfortunate turn of events. Heading into the week, the Cardinals were only 5 games out of the wildcard spot with the Pirates and Cubs awaiting them in their next 6 games. Atlanta, meanwhile, is hosting the defending World Series Champion Giants and the 1st place Diamondbacks. This week is the Cardinals’ last real chance to close the gap and make a serious run. If the Cardinals go 5-1…and the Braves go, say… 2-5… we’re talking about a 1.5 game deficit with 5 weeks to go and a 3 game home stand with the Braves at Busch in September.
But unfortunately, the glass is now half empty.
The Cardinals just got done getting whipped by a Pittsburgh team that is 3-16 over the past three weeks. Three wins in 19 games. Yes, that is the team that just drubbed the Cardinals 6-2 at PNC Park. To add insult to injury, the Braves rallied late to overcome a 4-2 deficit against the Giants, and the Brewers won AGAIN.
In the wake of the two recent series against Milwaukee, the talk amongst Cardinals fans has been geared toward the “next two” series against the Brew Crew.
So here’s a breakdown of the remaining schedules for the Cardinals, Brewers, and Braves:
St. Louis: 40 games left, 13 vs teams with winning records, 9 vs worst 2 teams in NL
Milwaukee: 40 games left, 10 vs teams with winning records, 8 vs worst 2 teams in NL
Atlanta: 40 games left, 15 vs teams with winning records, 4 vs worst 2 teams in NL
That pretty clearly illustrates why the Brewers have the division in the bag and the Braves are still somewhat catchable. Atlanta on average will be facing the equivalent of a 62 win team every night; Milwaukee will be playing just a 58 win team every night.
If you’re wondering, the Cardinals will play the equivalent of a 60-win team from here on out… but that really doesn’t matter.
Their biggest obstacle is themselves.