It looked grim at times, but the St. Louis Cardinals are finally making a playoff push.
Just when things looked grim, with the St. Louis Cardinals falling three games back in the National League wild card race and Nolan Arenado blaming himself for his poor performance, the narrative shifted only two days later.
Welcome to September baseball.
The Cardinals won the final two games of the series against the Cincinnati Reds, climbing to only one game back in the wild card race. Arenado, just one day after critiquing his performance, hit two home runs on Saturday and drove in five RBI in the last two games. He became the third player in team history with at least 30 home runs and 94 RBI in the last 10 years (Paul Goldschmidt in 2019 and Carlos Beltran in 2012).
And with Arenado performing like this, the Cardinals became a nightmare for any opponent. It might be why they should be considered the favorites to win the second NL wild card spot.
The quest to overtake that position starts Monday against the Mets, who saw $341 million shortstop Francisco Lindor hit three home runs on Sunday. The Mets are three games back in the wild card race (two games behind the Cardinals), making this yet another critical series for manager Mike Shildt and his players. But really, that can be said about every game going forward.
After the Mets, the Cardinals play the San Diego Padres, who are tied with the Reds for the second NL wild card spot, for three games in St. Louis. Then the Cardinals play the Brewers, one of baseball’s best teams, for four games in Milwaukee. Then they play the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field before playing the Brewers again before finishing off the season with the Cubs.
There are no cake walks in there, even against the 65-79 Cubs, who recently won eight games straight. The good news for the Cardinals, however, is that Adam Wainwright is scheduled to pitch in each series except for one while Arenado and the offense is showing signs of life again.
Their playoff push has started and continues in a critical series against the Mets. You wanted chaos. You got it.