Big weekend for Cardinals-Padres, Reds, Phillies

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this weekend for all four of the National League wild-card contenders because of how it will set the stage for the final two weeks of the season.

The St. Louis Cardinals hold a half-game lead over the San Diego Padres, and they will match up against each other for three games. The Cardinals have won five consecutive games, sweeping the New York Mets at Citi Field, and the Padres won their last two games in their four-game series against the San Francisco Giants.

More:Why Reds manager David Bell called for a rare sacrifice bunt in win over Pirates

“We’re excited to get into St. Louis,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “We’re playing a team that we’re trailing, and we’re fighting for the same thing. What more can you ask for?”

Sep 16, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Cincinnati Reds players celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Reds shutout the Pirates 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds have lost 12 of their last 17 games, and now they’ll have to survive a home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching staff. They’ve dropped seven consecutive series, dropping two of three games on their road trip to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cardinals and Chicago Cubs.

“The good thing that I like about this team is they’re always working together like a family, and that’s a really important thing when you want to be in the postseason,” said Asdrúbal Cabrera, who drove in the game-winning run in Thursday’s 1-0 win. “I know we had a tough week, but I still believe in this team.”

The Philadelphia Phillies have an opportunity to essentially end the Mets’ playoff hopes in their three-game series at Citi Field.

A look at the weekend ahead for the wild-card contenders:

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (76-70, half-game lead)

Sep 12, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) runs the bases after hitting a two run home run during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals are the one team surging in the wild-card race and now they have a chance to create some separation between themselves and the Padres. They beat the Mets by seven runs in two of their three games this week and outlasted them in an 11-inning thriller Tuesday.

Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill and Nolan Arenado have carried the offense throughout September. Adam Wainwright has been dominant in their rotation and the Cardinals’ bullpen has largely pitched well.

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