The St. Louis Cardinals (89-64) have a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates (88-65) for the National League Central’s title going into this weekend’s action, with the Cincinnati Reds (87-66) still lurking. Wild card spots provide a safety net for the group’s playoff hopes, provided the Washington Nationals (82-71) fail to catch up.
Cardinals try to hold serve
St. Louis came away with a split in this week’s four-game road set with the Colorado Rockies, despite notching a stellar 5.8 RPG. The Cardinals complete their journey with this weekend’s three matchups against the Milwaukee Brewers (68-84), followed by hosting the Nationals and Chicago Cubs (64-89) over six home dates.
Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter went 0-for-6 in Thursday’s 7-6 defeat for his club at Coors Field, ending a hot 10-for-18 surge in his prior four games. St. Louis’ Matt Adams (.274 BA) and Joe Kelly (2.74 ERA) remain “questionable” to play this weekend due to elbow and calf injuries, respectively.
Pirates, Reds fight it out
Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have six meetings left down the stretch, while potentially squaring off for a seventh time on Oct. 1 if both secure wild card spots.
Pittsburgh dropped the first three games of this week’s home set against the San Diego Padres, but finished off with some spark in Thursday’s 10-1 victory as a 183 favorite for our MLB picks. Pirates mates, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker both homered, with Walker finishing 4-for-5.
Cincinnati heads into the weekend with some steam after a road sweep of the Houston Astros, trouncing Bo Porter’s club by a combined margin of 22-6. Reds slugger Jay Bruce cracked his 30th homer during the series, while adding three doubles in a 7-for-13 stretch.
The Pirates have cashed at 7-6 in its 13 matchups with the Reds, including a 2-1 mark in July’s most recent series between the rivals. Pittsburgh visits the Chicago Cubs in the middle of its sets with Cincinnati, while the Reds host the New York Mets (68-84).
Nationals with little hope
Washington has done its part to stay in the Wild Card race, surging for a 13-3 mark in the club’s last 16 contests. The Nationals notched a 3-2 victory in Thursday’s opener against the Miami Marlins (56-97), while heading into Friday’s rematch as 261 favorites with Jordan Zimmermann taking the hill.
Davey Johnson’s squad has its chances for a weekend sweep, but will have to hope Cincinnati tanks in its remaining schedule. Washington then finishes its campaign with a six-game road trip, visiting the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks (77-75).
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