By Patrick Kelly
With just over a week left in the season, the Cardinals found themselves in a five-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates while just sitting in a playoff spot. The Redbirds had gone 4-6 in their previous 10 and were going up against the last-place team in baseball. While not all of the wins were pretty, the Cardinals were able to get the job done over the weekend going 4-1. They were helped by a late-inning rally on Saturday where they were no-hit until the seventh, and then on Sunday were saved by a Yadier Molina home run late to win 2-1. Despite coming out on top, the performance was less than promising, only getting 25 hits in five games against a team with 15 wins this season.
Going into the final week of the season, the Cardinals are a playoff team thanks to the expanded playoffs. Drawing the Kansas City Royals first could give the Cardinals the push they need to get some leeway between them and the Milwaukee. The Brewers and San Francisco Giants sit a game behind the Cardinals with the Brewers and Cardinals finishing off their seasons with a five-game series. Creeping just inside the NL playoffs is a team that was expected a lot more than the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have had quite a swing in their last week though playing the Washington Nationals who have 20 wins on the year and sit at the bottom of their division and then finish off with the Tampa Bay Rays who have a 3.5 game lead in their division.
The Cardinals are going with Adam Wainwright Monday night in their first game with the Royals. Wainwright has been his vintage self as of late and with Molina coming off a huge morale booster on Sunday, they should be looking good against a team whose playoff hopes have all but evaporated.