The Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers are each trying to be this season’s version of the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, the 2012 Cardinals are doing their best impression of the 2011 Atlanta Braves.
If if weren’t for Bud Selig’s vision to add a second Wild Card team in each league, the National League races would be all but wrapped up by now. With three divisions all but settled already and the aforementioned Braves holding a comfortable edge for the first Wild Card, the only tension is found for the last remaining playoff spot. St. Louis has looked like the team to beat until recently, when other teams have been beating them. On Wednesday, the Padres wrapped up a three-game sweep over the Cardinals, dropping St. Louis to 75-68 on the season.
Despite the struggles with the Cards, neither the Dodgers nor the Pirates have been able to make a move, with L.A. dropping 10 of the 16 games since acquiring Adrian Gonzalez et al from Boston and Pittsburgh currently riding a season-worst six game losing streak.
With all the futility ahead of them, both Philadelphia and Milwaukee just continue to climb the standings. The Brewers completed their second-ever sweep of Atlanta on Wednesday and have now won 18 of their last 23 games. Philadelphia, meanwhile, pulled off a sweep of their own in taking out the Marlins. It was their seventh consecutive win. both clubs now stand just three games out of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
You’d certainly still rather be where the Cardinals are than three games back with three teams in front of you. The math is still difficult for either Milwaukee or Philly to make it to October. With 19 games left, even a 15-4 finish would leave them with just 87 wins on the year. By contrast, St. Louis would have to finish just 12-7 to reach 87 victories.
It’s often said that momentum in baseball is measured by tomorrow’s starting pitcher. Given the collective starting staff in Philadelphia, if there is any momentum in the NL Wild Card race, it has to reside in the City of Brotherly Love.