St. Louis Cardinals: Big Sunday Wild Card Games

Aug 28, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter (13) celebrates with manager Mike Matheny (22) after hitting a solo home run off of Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Andrew Triggs (not pictured) at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter (13) celebrates with manager Mike Matheny (22) after hitting a solo home run off of Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Andrew Triggs (not pictured) at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

After defeating the Brewers in the late innings on Saturday night, the St. Louis Cardinals regained their second wild card spot and now lead the Mets by a half game.  Sunday holds a slate of important games, then, with wild card implications.

The St. Louis Cardinals are back holding a wild card spot thanks to a great outing by Adam Wainwright and late inning heroics.  This win allowed, combined with a Mets loss to the Braves, allowed the Cardinals to take sole possession of the second wild card spot.

While we St. Louis Cardinals fans should celebrate this win and the retaking of the wild card spot, we need to stay aware that this season will likely be a fight to the end.  To this point, three powerful teams are vying for two wild card spots, as we all know.  These teams are the Cardinals, the Mets, and the Giants.

So what now?  What will it take to hold or eliminate or lose-and-regain the wild card? Let’s take a moment or two before the games begin today (Sunday) to look at what stands today– important wild card games.

San Fransisco Giants

Let’s look first at the Giants who hold the top wild card spot in the National League.  The Giants won their game on Saturday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks by the score of 11-3.  This win helped them maintain their top wild card spot.

Sunday, September 11 has the Giants finishing their series in Arizona before heading home to host the Padres.  Sunday’s game in Arizona has the Giants going for a sweep against the Diamondbacks.  In game one the Giants won by the score of 7-6, and last night they won by the score listed above.

A sweep will help the Giants maintain their top spot in the wild card as they hold a one game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.  In addition to this, a win on Sunday- if combined with a Dodgers loss- could move the Giants closer to the top spot in the NL West where they trail by four games.  While it is unlikely they will win the NL West, their winning ways should keep them in the top wild card spot.

Looking further ahead than this weekend, the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals face off head-to-head in a four game set beginning on Thursday of this week.  The Cardinals going into today’s games trail the Giants in the wild card by only one game.  Should the deficit remain this close through the first part of this week, fans are in store for a great series at the end of the week.

Looking more specifically at today’s Giants’ game, the pitching match-up is slated as Matt Moore (LHP getting his third start today) facing the slumping-but-historically-powerful Zach Greinke.  Despite Greinke’s tough last start against the Dodgers, the Giants might have a tough time securing the sweep today which could help the St. Louis Cardinals.

New York Mets

Let’s next look at the Mets.  The St. Louis Cardinals and the Mets are in a back-and-forth competition for the second wild card spot.  In the most recent days, these two teams have swapped positions a few times with each team securing and then losing the spot.

On Sunday, the Mets will conclude their series in Atlanta against the Braves.  This rubber match is set up behind the Mets having won the first game 6-4 and lost the game on Saturday night 3-4.  The loss on Saturday allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to retake the second wild card spot and go up half a game on the Mets for the coveted spot.

In looking at Sunday’s match-up, the Mets are sending RHP Seth Lugo to the mound.  Lugo is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA since joining the Mets rotation.  On the mound for the Braves will be Williams Perez.  Perez is 2-2 with a 5.47 ERA.  In his last outing, however, Perez lasted only 2.1 innings.  With this match-up, the Mets should have their chops primed for a feast.

The Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals do not face each other again this season so any advance of ground must come via a win-loss of each disparate team in their own contests.  This means that each team will spend the remaining schedule watching the other’s results closely.

St. Louis Cardinals

Now to our beloved St. Louis Cardinals who today finish a four-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers in Busch Stadium.  Finishing the series in Busch will come with relief as the Cardinals have not fared as well at home as they have on the road this season.  While it would be nice to take a win and go on the road, this isn’t the case as the Cubs come to Busch tomorrow.

More from St Louis Cardinals News

In looking at today’s game, the St. Louis Cardinals need to secure a win for many reasons.  One reason the Cardinals need to win is for the simplicity of the win in itself.  Another reason the Cardinals need the win is due to the Mets and the challenge (or lack thereof) they face (see above for explanation).  The final reason the Cardinals need a win today is to build momentum for the Cubs invasion.

So what are we to look for today?  The St. Louis Cardinals are sending rookie phenom Luke Weaver to the mound.  Weaver owns a 1-2 record and a 3.96 ERA in his time in the rotation.  In his last start, Weaver lasted only four innings but surrendered only two runs.  In years past, two surrendered runs might not have mattered as much as they this season with this team, but they do.

Today, the Brewers will send RHP Zach Davies to the mound to face the St. Louis Cardinals.  Davies owns a 10-7 record and a 4.01 ERA.  The challenge for the Cardinals is Davies’ shut-down changeup which essentially shut the Cubs down in his last outing.  The Cardinals with the best records facing Davies are Matt Adams (.333 BA), Jedd Gyorko (.667 BA), and Stephen Piscotty (.333 BA).

In very similar fashion, the Brewers’ batters who hold the best records facing Weaver are Ryan Braun (.333 BA), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.667 BA), and Jonathan Villar (.333 BA).  Since each team holds three batters with identical batting averages facing their opponent’s pitcher, we should anticipate a game similar to last night’s affair and hope that the St. Louis Cardinals can again prove victorious in the late innings.

Next: Don't Count Us Out Yet

St. Louis Cardinals fans should hold onto their hats and hope for the best.  If I had to guess, the Giants stand a decent chance of losing today, the Mets stand a good chance of winning today, and the Cardinals stand a 50-50 chance of winning.  I hope I’m wrong.  We will all know the outcome in a few hours.  Go CARDS!