The Cardinals enter play today very much in the hunt, both for the Division and the Wild Card.  Going 8-2 in their last 10 games hasn’t allowed the team to gain much ground, however; the Cubs have also gone 8-2, while the Brewers have gone 7-3. The Cardinals are four games back of the division lead and a half game up on the first wild card spot, with the Brewers, Dodgers, Rockies, and Phillies nipping at their heels. It may come down to the wire for everyone.

The Cardinals don’t NEED to win every single game for the rest of the year in order to make the postseason, but damn if it doesn’t feel like they do. Especially against the lowly Reds, anything less than a sweep seems like it will be disappointing for our Redbirds.

Unfortunately, this game was all Reds and no Birds.

After Cardinals’ starter Daniel Poncedeleon sat down the first 10 Reds hitters, their bats suddenly came alive in the fourth inning.  Poncedeleon gave up four consecutive hits – a double to Jose Peraza, a double to the formidable Joey Votto, a single to Scooter Gennett who is quietly having a career year, and a double to Eugenio Suarez – and suddenly the Reds led 3-0. Poncedeleon then walked Scott Schleber and gave up a single to Phillip Ervin, and Mike Shildt decided he had seen enough.

Tyson Ross came in on relief, got out of the inning, and proceeded to pitch 4.2 solid innings. This was the lone bright spot for the Cardinals today. Ross pitched longer than Poncedeleon, gave up four hits and one run, while striking out three and walking no one. It is exactly what you want from a long reliever: he kept the ball club in the game.

If the Cardinals’ hitters had shown up, we might have had a chance. Alas, they did not. The team managed just TWO hits tonight. Although they walked four times, they just never really got anything going offensively. The best shot came in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina both drew two out walks with Jose Martinez waiting in the wings. Martinez had a chance to make it a one-run game with a single swing, but he struck out instead – his third of the night.

Luis Castillo, who started for the Reds, ended up with this final line: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 11 Ks. Eleven strikeouts!!! Jeez.

It was a relatively quiet and uneventful game after the Reds’ breakout in the fourth, and really did not feel like a game where the Cardinals had a chance to come back. The Redbirds will look for a win tomorrow to secure a series victory, in what would be their 11th consecutive series win. Luke Weaver faces Anthony DeSclafani at 1:15 CT.

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