The St. Louis Cardinals had reason to hang their heads entering their game on August 1. They had just dropped four crucial games to the division leading Pittsburgh Pirates and with one more left to play, the chances for St. Louis to win the NL Central were decreasing by the game.
But instead of giving up hope of winning the division, even when some pundits all but guaranteed the spot to the Pirates, St. Louis did what they do best and kept fighting. They soared back to win that August 1 game by a score of 13-0 and since then have stayed right on Pittsburgh’s heels as well.
And after taking two of three from Pittsburgh in the last series between the two teams and most recently taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs, the lead for the Pirates is down to just 1.5 games.
St. Louis, a team that came back in an extraordinary way in 2011 en route to winning the World Series, has yet to really turn on the jets and take control of this race. They have gained ground in the division, but it is only because in their last ten the Cardinals are 5-5 while Pittsburgh has played to just 4-6.
The teams have just six games against each other remaining, the first of which is scheduled for the end of August. And it is likely that these two series will determine which team wins the NL Central crown.
Overall, this division should be St. Louis’ to win. Pittsburgh has been struggling as of late, especially with their top notch close Jason Grilli on the DL until September. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have surged offensively and are averaging 5.2 runs a game during the month of August. The Cardinals should also be optimistic because they now have Yadier Molina back. On the season he is hitting .328, just .7 average points away from overtaking Chris Johnson for the NL batting title. It would be his first in his career.
At this point it seems that the Cardinals are the better team and that they will have the momentum in the season’s final games. The Pirates, meanwhile, might have to settle for the wild card, a disappointing end to what looked to be such a promising season.