It All Comes Down To This
Thursday’s loss to the New York Mets was disappointing. The Cardinals had the opportunity to pick up that half game and they errored and walked their way right out of it. But there really is no reason to panic. Tonight’s game at Busch Stadium is just as much of a must-win as it would have been if they won yesterday.
In terms of significance and timing, yesterday was probably the team’s worst loss since Game 2 of the 2009 NLDS. And of course, it’s easy to second-guess the late inning moves by Tony LaRussa. After all, the manager deserves all of the blame when the team loses and none of the credit when they win, right? Maybe Fernando Salas should have been the one to start the 9th with Jason Motte warming up behind him for insurance. Who knows if the outcome would have been different.
But the reality of the situation is still the same: The Cardinals have an opportunity to catch and pass the Atlanta Braves. Yesterday determined nothing. If the Cards win two of three in their next two series and the Braves lose two of three in theirs, the teams will meet in St. Louis for a one game playoff to determine the Wild Card winner. The Cardinals are still in position to take advantage of the math. So tonight, the Cardinals have to forget what happened on Thursday. They have to win a game against the Cubs. That would be the case no matter what happened yesterday. The same situation will come up Saturday, Sunday, and for three games next week in Houston.
Does one game back look a lot better than two games back when there’s only six left to play? Certainly. But no one clinched anything yesterday. The Cardinals are still playing much better baseball than the Braves, and are a lot healthier. If the Cards go out and roll over against the Cubs tonight, maybe we have a problem. It’s been said before many games during the second half of this season, but tonight’s game is the most important of the year for the Cardinals.
Tonight, we see what they’re really made of.