With one week to go in the regular season, the St. Louis Cardinals’ sole focus is making the playoffs - and not worrying about who they’re chasing.
Looking to draw closer in the wild-card race, the Cardinals continue their series with the New York Mets on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis (85-69) won for the 11th time in 13 games after rallying from an early four-run deficit for an 11-6 win Tuesday.
However, the Cardinals remained 2 1/2 games behind the wild card-leading Braves, who blanked Florida earlier in the night. Since losing to Milwaukee on Sept. 5, St. Louis has shaved six games off Atlanta’s lead.
“The Braves can lose the rest of the games that they got left and if we don’t take care of business, they’re still going to win the wild card,” said Albert Pujols(notes), who went 4 for 5 and is hitting a season-best .304. “All we can do is go nine innings hard and hopefully get a ‘W,’ at the end of the day.”
Having the Mets (73-81) come into Busch Stadium for the only time this season couldn’t come at a more opportune time. Tuesday’s win improved the Cardinals to 6-1 in their last seven at home against New York.
Pujols is hitting .392 (20 for 51) while Berkman is batting .468 (22 for 47). Furcal - acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline to provide a spark from the leadoff spot - has done that by hitting .353 (18 for 51) over the last two weeks.
The Cardinals have also gotten strong outings from their starters, who’ve posted a 2.50 ERA over the past 13 contests.
The left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts this month. He gave up a run and five hits in seven innings Friday, but failed to get a decision in the Cardinals’ 4-2, 11-inning win over Philadelphia.
“I’m pleased with what I did and glad we got the win. We’ve got something special going on and the main thing is to win for the team,” said Garcia, who receives an average of 5.90 runs per game - the second-highest mark in the NL.
Garcia, who hasn’t faced the Mets this season, has no record and a 2.08 ERA in two career starts against New York.
Chris Schwinden(notes) (0-2, 5.40) is scheduled to make his third major league start and first on the road for the Mets. After being tagged for five runs in his big league debut Sept. 8 against Atlanta, the right-hander yielded one earned run in five innings before the bullpen crumbled in Thursday’s 10-1 loss to Washington.
“I thought he threw the ball very good. That was certainly the Chris Schwinden that I know,” manager Terry Collins told the Mets’ official website.
The Mets, who have dropped 10 of 13, are one defeat shy of their third straight losing season.