Reds, Padres, Cardinals, Phillies, Mets

ST. LOUIS – The final playoff spot in the National League is there for the taking, but no team is stepping up to grab it.

The Cincinnati Reds have lost 12 of their last 18 games and dropped six consecutive series. The San Diego Padres are 7-13 in their last 20 games, swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend. The St. Louis Cardinals took two of three games against the Reds, but that’s the only team they’ve beat in a series since Aug. 15.

Sep 12, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) tosses his bat after striking out to end the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets are hanging around in the wild-card race, but they’re both hovering around .500.

It’ll be a three-week sprint to the finish line and there are five teams separated by three games in the NL wild-card race. Here’s a look at how the week shapes up for the wild-card contenders:

SAN DIEGO PADRES (74-68, tied)

San Diego Padres relief pitcher Craig Stammen (34) reacts after giving up a three run home run against Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50) during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 11.

The Padres began their 10-game, 10-day road trip with three losses to the Dodgers. They were overpowered by Dodgers pitchers Julio Urías, Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer, and they lost Blake Snell to a groin injury Sunday.

Next up is a four-game set against the San Francisco Giants, a team that could clinch a playoff spot Monday.

“It’s probably been our low point,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said after Sunday’s 8-0 loss to the Dodgers, “but we have a chance to turn that around. Nothing is going to matter, this pocket, if we can go out and play well for these next three weeks.”

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