The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Houston Astros 6-1 last night. Lance Lynn picked up his 17th win and Yadier Molina and Pete Kozma both homered. It was the Cardinals' fourth straight win over Houston over a seven-day period. The team has two more games in Houston before playing its last six games of the season at Busch Stadium.
As a fan, this is exactly what I wanted to see from the Cardinals when they returned from their West Coast road trip two Sundays ago. That trip, which threatened the team's chances to make the postseason, could have brought about a big crash. The Cards went 2-5 on the coast, but fortunately the Los Angeles Dodgers, their closest pursuers at the time, were also struggling.
When the Cardinals returned home on September 16, they faced the good fortune of playing their next nine games against the Astros and the Chicago Cubs. Houston has the worst record in baseball at 50-104, and it seems likely the Astros will top last year's franchise-worst 106 losses. The Cubs are tied with the Colorado Rockies for the second-worst record in the major leagues with a record of 59-94.
On the Fox Sports Midwest telecast last night, analyst Rick Horton compared watching the Astros to watching a minor league team play. From my perspective, if they can't beat the two worst teams in baseball, do the Cardinals really deserve to be in the playoffs? Fortunately the Cardinals have taken full advantage of the current stretch in their schedule, winning six times and losing just one game.
While the Cardinals have been beating up on the weak sisters in the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers, who had made a push for a wild card spot by winning five games in a row, had to play the Washington Nationals at the exact time the Nationals were trying to secure a playoff spot.
The Brewers took the first game against Washington but dropped two of the last three games in the series. As a result, the Cardinals have widened their lead for the final playoff spot to three and a half games.
The Cardinals need to keep pushing for a sweep of the hapless Astros. They are getting very close to securing a ticket to the 2012 postseason, and last year's team showed them just how valuable such a ticket can be.
Brad Boeker is a native of St. Louis and a lifetime Cardinals fan.
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