With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Cincinnati Reds are four back in the loss column behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the final National League wild-card spot.
Not only do the Reds need to start sweeping series with 12 games remaining, but they'll need help from the Cardinals' opponents. The Cardinals entered Monday with 14 games left: seven against the Milwaukee Brewers and seven against the Chicago Cubs. St. Louis has won eight consecutive games.
If the Cardinals finish 7-7 in their final 14 games, the Reds need to close the season with a 9-3 record in their last 12 games just to force a Game 163 tiebreaker. The Cardinals' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 11.
The Reds could run the table, winning their next 12 games, and still miss the playoffs if the Cardinals post an 11-3 record. The Reds will play six games against the Pittsburgh Pirates, four versus the Washington Nationals and two games against the Chicago White Sox.
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"I know we haven't won a series in a while," said Reds pitcher Wade MIley after Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. "We just have to keep playing. We can't press. Anything can happen. There are 12 games left, the Cardinals have (14) games left. They can go on a losing streak just like we have. Hopefully, we can turn this thing around and see what happens."
The Reds are tied in the loss column with the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres (both Phillies and Padres have 13 games left). The Phillies are two games back in their division behind the Atlanta Braves, so they still have multiple paths to a playoff spot.
A look at how many wins it'll take for the Reds to force a Game 163 tiebreaker against the Cardinals (assuming they aren't matched by the Phillies or Padres):
Cardinals win 11-14 games to end season: Reds eliminated.
Cardinals finish 10-4 in the next two weeks: Reds need to go 12-0.
Cardinals finish 9-5: Reds need to go 11-1.
Cardinals finish 8-6: Reds need to go 10-2.
Cardinals finish 7-7: Reds need to go 9-3.
Cardinals finish 6-8: Reds need to go 8-4.