The best way to get over a 2-5 road trip against your top two division competitors? A sweep upon arriving home, of course!
And that’s exactly what the St. Louis Cardinals did, moving from 1 1/2 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates going into Friday’s game to now having a 1 1/2 game lead thanks to Sunday’s rather easy 9-2 win.
Yesterday’s game also completed The 17 Biggest Cardinals Games in the History of The World. End result? A 10-7 record, moving from 1 game back to 1 1/2 games in front and now only 19 regular season games remaining.
Things are looking up.
The win was a great cap to a so-far-perfect homes stand also. While it was definitely a complete team win yesterday — every Cardinals starter but one had an RBI — Michael Wacha stands out, and not just for his pitching.
Although that was pretty incredible, as he threw seven scoreless innings and allowed just two hits while also striking out and walking two each. He has a scoreless innings streak that’s now 19 2/3 innings. Yet he also had a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning that drove in David Freese and Matt Adams.
When it’s your day, it’s your day.
Actually, it was pretty much every Cardinals’ day yesterday — with the exception of Sam Freeman. He allowed the two Pirate runs on a walk, a hit and his own error, then a sacrifice fly when Fernando Salas relieved him. It was such a good day yesterday that even Pete Kozma went two for three with a double, a single and a walk. (He was unfortunately the only Cards starter without an RBI.)
Still, that’s a good day!
It comes as no surprise that it also was another good day for Matt Carpenter, as he had two hits to surpass his tie with That Guy Who Used to Play First Base for the most hits at Busch Stadium III in a season. He’ll just continue to set a new record with each subsequent hit, although right now it’s a nice and even 100. And he keeps adding to his other achievements as well, as Chad Thornburg details at Cardinals.com:
The ballpark record is just the latest in a long line of statistical achievements for Carpenter this year, his second full season in the Majors. The All-Star second baseman is also closing in on the stadium record for doubles, trailing Scott Rolen’s 29 in 2006 by two. He is first in the National League in hits (174), doubles (48) and multihit games (56). He also leads the Majors with 112 runs.
With the conclusion of yesterday’s game, the Cardinals are now done playing the Pirates for the season — the regular season, anyway. And they’re done with the Reds as well — the surging Reds, who swept the Dodgers this weekend after taking three of four from the Cards last week and are now tied with the Pirates in second place.
The schedule for the remainder of the season favors the Cardinals, as only three of the 19 remaining games are against a team that’s above .500 — the Nationals. The Pirates are in Texas for the next three days to face the Rangers, while the Reds are still home and start a series with the Cubs. Yet the Pirates and the Reds play each other six times in the final nine regular season games — Sept. 20-22 at PNC Park and Sept. 27-29 at Great American Ball Park.
It’s trite to say, but the Cardinals really can control their own destiny and the NL Central lead. After a day off today — with both the Pirates and Reds in action — a three-game series with the Brewers begins tomorrow night with Shelby Miller facing Wily Peralta.
Less than three weeks left now of the regular season, and it’s bound to be exciting.
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.