Shades of 1964 in National League Central Race

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As the National League Central Division race heats up, there are shades of the 1964 National League pennant race. Throw in the 2011 National League Wild Card race, too, for comparison’s sake.

In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rick Hummel compares the Milwaukee Brewers’ collapse late in the season to that of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964. Without the Phillies’ collapse, the Cardinals won’t advance to the first of their three World Series appearances in the 1960s. Hummel looks at other late season collapses.

During the 2011 season, everyone knows the story by now. The St. Louis Cardinals were 10.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the race for the National League Wild Card. It took until the 162nd game of the Major League Baseball Season but the Cardinals ultimately got the job done but they couldn’t have done so without the Braves self-implosion.

In the final 10 games of the 2011 season, the Cardinals went 7-3 while the Braves imploded with a 2-8 record. The Cardinals went into the postseason on a role. They took the Philadelphia Phillies to the maximum with a winner-take-all NLDS Game 5 pitting former teammates Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay. The Cards then took the Milwaukee Brewers to six games, beating them four games to two. Finally, it took seven games for the Cardinals to beat the Texas Rangers for the franchise’s 11th World Series Championship.

This season, the Cardinals were one game ahead of the San Francisco Giants on August 27. Entering the month of September, the Brewers had won two of their last ten while the Cardinals had won four of their last ten.

Heading into games played today, the Cardinals are only 3.5 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the NL Central.

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