It’s deja vu all over again, isn’t it? Several consecutive crucial series for the St. Louis Cardinals against the National League’s top teams, just like three or so weeks ago. And it all starts tonight.
Of course, no one wants deja vu to the outcome of that 11-games-in-10-days disaster against the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds when the Cards only won three games — with two coming against the Reds, the team behind them in the standings.
When this 17-game stretch — four games with the Braves, seven with the Reds and six with the Pirates — ends on Sept. 8, we could have a much better idea of how the National League Central race will play out.
Or we could not.
That, however, is no fun to contemplate.
We need drama! We need hype! We need to think these 17 games will mean everything!
So here’s a look ahead.
Tonight through Sunday — Braves at Cardinals: Another Home Team Sweep? Sure, Another Home Team Sweep!
The Braves come to St. Louis with a ridiculous 15-game lead in the National League East and the best record in the majors. (Hey, remember when we got to brag about that?) They split a series against the Mets in New York Tuesday and Wednesday and, while they won yesterday, actually suffered a very big loss: Jason Heyward broke his jaw in two places when he was hit by a pitch and is having surgery today. He’ll be out four to six weeks, so likely the rest of the regular season.
We know what happened when the Cards traveled to Atlanta, and we’ll just forget all about it.
The pitching match-ups for the series are Paul Maholm, who’s just coming off the disabled list, against Joe Kelly tonight, Kris Medlen vs. Adam Wainwright tomorrow, Julio Teheran vs. Shelby Miller on Saturday and Brandon Beachy vs. Lance Lynn on Sunday (which will be on TBS).
In summary: things
need to be will be different this time!
Aug. 26-28 — Reds at Cardinals: The Success Continues
Thankfully the Cardinals have had success against one of the NL Central contenders this season, and they’re headed to St. Louis next. At the moment the Reds are 1 1/2 games behind the Cards in the Central standings and 2 1/2 out of first.
They’ve won two so far in a four-game series against the Diamondbacks that concludes this afternoon. The Brewers head to Cincy for a weekend series that we hope is at least a repeat of last weekend, where Milwaukee won two of three.
The early August series in Cincinnati was a slugfest for the Cards, as they won 13-3 and 15-2. Here’s to even more success next week, because this time it counts! Or counts more! Or something!
But please, Fox Sports Midwest, no more mention of the now-totally-irrelevant thing that happened in Cincinnati three years ago. And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE to all who are attending the games at Busch Stadium: shut up when Brandon Phillips comes to bat. Attention whores love attention. Booing is attention. Ignore him — it will drive him crazy.
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 — Cardinals at Pirates: Return To PNC: This Time, We Win!
Seriously, Cardinals, it has to be different this time around. And I’m not just saying that because a bunch of us will be there for all three games.
There’s nothing to say about the Cards last trip there. What there is to say is that the Pirates’ lead in the NL Central is currently one game — which is exactly what it was when their series against the Padres and the Cards series against the Brewers began on Monday. The Pirates start a four-game series in San Francisco tonight, then return to Pittsburgh and play the Brewers for three next Tuesday through Thursday.
Sept. 2-5 — Cardinals at Reds: Just Do What You Did Before
It’s a return trip to Cincinnati exactly one month later and winning the series again — even though it’s four games this time — would be awesome. Also, striking out fewer times so the Reds fans don’t get free pizza two nights in a row would be a plus. Although free pizza is a nice bonus for Cards fans who are there, it’s not good when it comes from your team’s struggles.
This will mark the final regular season games between the Cards and Reds.
Sept. 6-8 — Pirates at Cardinals: Win the Series Like Last Week, Just Without Extra Innings!
The Cardinals finally figured out a way to win a series against the Pirates last week: just play a million innings a night, and eventually the Pirates get tired and you can walk off winners. So, Cards, let’s keep that going (which is something you must do in Pittsburgh also) but in fewer innings this time around. Although, hey, as long as the final result is fireworks going off at Busch and happy handshakes on the field, none of us really care how many innings it takes. Right?
So, there you go. Seventeen games to decide the fate of the world! Or the baseball world! Uh, the NL Central! Maybe …
Here’s the one and only thing we absolutely do know for sure: by Sept. 8, there will be 17 fewer games on the schedule, and only 19 will remain.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.