how'd it shake out? the cards did win 20 of 30, and yes it is just a tad disappointing. they suffered 2-2 splits at home against colorado, milwaukee, and pittsburgh, and lost a road series to the reds 1-2. but they made up for those sins with three sweeps -- of tampa bay, houston, and the reds (in a two-game set). and the cubs? well they slipped a makeup game in there somewhere, so they played 31 games, not 30. they went 14-17.
hence the cards doubled their lead, and the race is indeed all but over. yet both teams are scuffling in their own way -- the cards banged-up and weary, the cubs scrapping mightily for traction in the wild-card race. 13-game spread or no, it's an important series for both teams. the cubs may or may not be a playoff team, but they're certainly a playoff-type team -- strong starting pitchers, a dangerous lineup, hence a good challenge for the cardinals. two games are on national tv, which adds to the lifelike simulation of postseason conditions. like the houston series last weekend, this one should yield a helpful read on how certain key parts of the team (the bullpen, the bench) perform vs good competition in a high-profile atmosphere.
we'll get to know these guys pretty good down the stretch, and you never know but what we might play `em one extra series in october. so this is the first of 14, maybe 21. let's get it on.