For the first time since May 24 of this season, the Cardinals control their own playoff destiny.
By that I mean, if the playoffs were to start today, the Cards are in sole possession of a playoff berth. If they win enough games between now and the end of the season, and their pursuers lose just enough, the Redbirds will once again find themselves in the World Series Crapshoot.
This also means the hometown club is in a seemingly advantageous position to last year’s bunch, who required a game 162 win to secure a playoff position (with help, mind you). That said, baseball gonna baseball. There’s a lot left to play.
Following the Cards’ 4-2 victory over the hapless (or J.A. Happ-less) Astros bunch on Wednesday night, and losses by the Pirates and Dodgers, the Cardinals have moved into sole ownership of the fifth playoff slot in the National League. This represents an achievement of sorts for a team that has confounded local scribes, fans, bloggers, management, and wave-starters alike. April’s love-in is long forgotten, but perhaps May and June’s swoon could soon be as well.
To wit, on May 24th, the last time the Cards were “in control” of a playoff spot – the following things were true:
- The Cleveland Indians were winning the AL Central. (They are 28-52 since.)
- The Yankees were on the outside looking in, a half-game out of the playoffs. (They are 49-31 since.)
- Cincinnati was only a half-game up on the hometown club. (Yep.)
- The Miami Marlins were 24-21, only a game out of a Wild Card spot. (They are 33-47 since, and have sold off all of the art.)
Such is life among the teams not dominating their divisions.
Last season the Milwaukee Brewers put on a show, winning game after game to relegate the Cardinals to a last-minute Wild Card berth. This season the Reds are on a similar torrid stretch, winning games with little regard for their own injured stars and/or the NL Central teams being left behind in an Aroldis Chapman vapor-trail.
The future for the Cardinals seems to hold an at-best one-game Wild Card playoff. The worst, as of today, is put at bay. It’s easy to forget how fleeting being in the playoffs can be, but hopefully not for a team that had to pull a rabbit to make it happen last season.
Keep beating the beatable teams, you hairy Redbirds (cap tip, @2XAught7). Beat one of the unbeatable ones every so often too, and you might have something. After all, you just have to make it past game 162 to make things happen, right?