Following losing 2 out of 3 to the National League Central Division leading Chicago Cubs (93-52), the St. Louis Cardinals (76-69) travel to San Francisco, to take on the Giants in an all important four game series. If the Redbirds have any hope of remaining competitive in the National League Wild Card race, the Cards need to continue their 2016 “Road Magic”.
The Cardinals’ are 43-28 on the road and a woeful 34-41 at home. The Birds are attempting to become the first MLB club to qualify for post season play with a losing home record since the 2001 Atlanta Braves. Atlanta’s record was 40-41 at home and 48-33 on the road in 2001. They ended the 2001 season in 1st place in the NL East (88-74), winning the NL Divisional Series (3-0) over the then NL Houston Astros and losing the NL Championship Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks (4-1).
The Cardinals (76-69) begin play Thursday in 2nd place in the NL Central, 17 games behind the Division leading Chicago Cubs (93-52) and 5.5 games in front of the 3rd place Pittsburgh Pirates. In the all important Wild Card hunt, the Redbirds are in 3rd place, one-half game behind the New York Mets (77-69). The San Francisco Giants have a slim one-half game lead in the 1st Wild Card position.
This season the Cardinals have managed to play well on the road. They find themselves at a critical as well as crucial juncture if they have any hope of keeping their 2016 Wild Card hopes alive.
A San Francisco sweep would effectively end Cardinal Nation’s hope of a Wild Card entry into possible post-season play and afford the Giants with a +4.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the Wild Card race. This mid-September series between St. Louis and San Francisco takes on the importance of an October series, as the next four games most realistically may decide who moves on to securing a Wild Card spot.
I believe coming into this series both teams are fairly evenly matched. I give the Giant’s Johnny Cueto (15-5) a slight edge over Adam Wainwright (11-8) in the first game. Scheduled in Game Two are, Luke Weaver (1-2) vs. Matt Moore (3-4). Game Three finds Mike Leake (9-10) vs. Jeff Samardzija (11-10). I view the pitching match-ups of games 2 and 3 as being fairly even. The Redbirds have yet to announce a starter for game four. The Giants in Game Four are sending the rookie Albert Suarez (3-3) to the hill.
To be successful this series the Cardinals need to maintain the intensity indicated by their 2016 road record.
Random Thought: In 2016, the Cardinals have hit 207 home runs, 2nd best in MLB behind the Baltimore Orioles (232). In 2015 Cardinal Starters were 72-42, with an ERA of 2.48. Compare this to the current 2016 pitching statistics of 52-48, won-loss, and an ERA of 4.28. Imagine if the 2016 Home Run totals and the 2015 Starting Pitching statistics were realities in the same season!
Thanks for reading!
Jim Tsapelas is a featured author for Baseball Thirty. Jim has been following the St. Louis Cardinals since the mid-1950’s.