The 2011 and 2012 St Louis Cardinals are proving to have many similarities. The past two Augusts the Cardinals have resembled underachieving teams that have yet to put all the pieces together. After last night’s loss to the Phillies, the Cards are three games behind Pittsburgh and Atlanta for one of the two final playoff spots. Should Cardinals fans be worried ? Not with these “crying birds.” Late August of 2011 the Cardinals were nine games back with just over a month to play and still wound up winning their 11th World Series title.
As of Friday, the Cardinals run differential through 113 games is + 99. The two teams in front of them in the wild card race are + 74 (Atl) and + 32 (Pitt). While these are just “numbers,” history has shown that the run differential can be a good indicator of which teams will eventually “level out” and make a run for the playoffs.
The Cardinals are still the top run scoring team of the National League; pitching is clearly the problem with this team. Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, David Freese, Allen Craig, and Carlos Beltran are all having spectacular seasons at the plate with each player having 15 or more home runs and a batting average of at least .280. Kyle Lohse has remained the most consistent starting pitcher with Lance Lynn struggling of late. If Adam Wainwright can continue to have strong outings, and if the middle relief can show up just a little bit, there is no reason this team cannot make a strong push for not only the wild card, but the NL Central crown as well.
Cardinals fans can remember that the improbable run in September to get into the playoffs was aided by a monumental collapse by the Atlanta Braves. The Cardinals still have six games left against both the Pirates and the Reds. There is ground to be made up, but plenty of chances to do so. To make things a little less gut wrenching, maybe these Birds can finally put all the pieces together and lock up a playoff spot before game 162.
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