Well, last night / this morning’s game was a kick in the beans. It looks like nobody stayed up until 3am to write a recap, so I’ll give you a quick one:
Dex led-off the game with a homer, Flaherty pitched seven amazing innings, then Miller coughed up a homer in the 9th and both teams set their bullpens on fire for 10 more innings until Arizona grudgingly won in the 19th.
But while it hurts to blow a Jack Flaherty start, and the damn Brewers won again, it’s important to remember that the Cardinals are still probably going to win the division. Site Manager Emeritus Ben Humphrey did a nice job of laying out the scenarios this morning:
- #STLCards have 90 wins— ⚾ b _ g _ h ⚾ (@b_g_h) September 25, 2019
- Brewers have 87
- STL Magic #: 3
- STL has 4 games left & MIL has 5
- If STL goes 0-4, MIL must go 3-2 to tie
- If STL goes 1-3, MIL must go 4-1 to tie
- If STL goes 2-2, MIL must go 5-0
- If STL goes 3-1 or 4-0, MIL can't tie
So while this Brewers run is scary, and anything can happen, and yada-yada-yada, you’ve still got to feel pretty good about the Cardinals chances. Even if the Cardinals go a very pedestrian 2-2, Milwaukee must play 5 undefeated games.
How will it play out? At this point, there’s really not much to do but sit back and watch. Over the course of an entire season, baseball can be fairly predictable, with teams regressing toward their run differential, etc. But this is a game where the best teams win about 65% of the time and the worst teams win about 35% of the time. Over the span of just five games, literally anything is possible.
Yes, Milwaukee has somewhat weaker competition... but they also play all of their games on the road, and despite the Reds worse record, they are about even with the Brewers when it comes to run differential.
But you see? See what I did there? I was slipping into trying to predict what’s going to happen over the span of five games, and that’s ludicrous. Milwaukee wins 55% of its games. Cincinnati wins 47%. Colorado wins 43%. Over the course of an entire season, I feel pretty confident the team with 55% odds will win more games. But over just five games - it’s basically a coin flip. Milwaukee has to win five coin flips in a row if the Cardinals manage to even just go .500.
And while the Cardinals face slightly better competition in their four remaining games against Arizona and Chicago, the same holds true. This is a sport that needs a 162-game regular season to separate out the best teams. Five games is only just a division series, and we Cardinal fans know how fickle and random those can be - for good or for ill.
I usually try to present some data point in my posts that I hope will be insightful or at least maybe something not everybody has noticed yet, but in these dying embers of the regular season as in the playoffs, I don’t really think there’s that much we can do except sit back and watch.
The Cardinals could go out this afternoon, get a terrible Michael Wacha start and then have nothing left in their bullpen, and then come home and get swept by a resurgent Cubs team looking to play spoiler. Or they could beat the equally exhausted Diamondbacks tonight, then sweep a Cubs team that looks like they have thrown in the towel.
Probably, it will be something in-between. And we will ascribe a narrative based on which way it breaks, but it’s mostly going to be a series of coin flips. And every small thing that happens will be magnified and dissected, and that will be silly but also fun and memorable.
Honestly, it’s the best part of the game and the long season. It’s been a few years since we’ve been here, and however it breaks, I’m glad to be back.