How the Cardinals can play spoiler for playoff-hopeful teams in September

With one month left in the season, the Cardinals have the chance to play spoiler for potential playoff teams. Which teams' seasons can the Cardinals impact the greatest in the final month?
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages
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Baltimore Orioles lose the division lead

The darling of the 2023 season, the Baltimore Orioles have been quite dominant. They have won game after game in a very tough American League East. As of September 5th, the Orioles hold a 3.5-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. It appears as though the Orioles will run away with the division crown, especially since the Tampa Bay Rays have experienced a glut of injuries in the past month.

With only three games against Baltimore, it will be tough for the Cardinals to remove them from the division lead, but it is possible the Cardinals at least lower the confidence of the young studs in Baltimore. The Cardinals and Orioles play each other for three games from September 11th through September 13th in Baltimore. Should the Cardinals dethrone the Baltimore Orioles, they would then slip from the top seed in the American League to the top Wild Card team.

Being a Wild Card team means you play at least two more games in the playoffs, and you have fewer rest days before the Divisional Series. A young team with innings caps on their pitchers may love a few off days before the second round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay has one of the toughest remaining schedules, while Baltimore is in the middle of the pack; the Cardinals could complicate the AL playoff picture mightily should they sweep the Orioles, however unlikely that may be.