After starting the year 3-9, the St. Louis Cardinals were in trouble.
But not really.
The Cardinals (21-15) have since gone 18-6 and are atop the NL Central. They’ve won eight of nine overall and took two of three from the Cubs in St. Louis this past weekend.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
“It was a good series for the Cardinals,” Cardinals analyst Chris Hrabe said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They started 3-9 and the sky was falling in St. Louis – I guess a little bit similar to how it seems to be falling with some fans in Chicago now. But they’ve played really good baseball over the last month. They’ve done kind of what they did over the spring. I know you always take the spring with a grain of salt, but it was good defense, aggressive base-running, and really, really good pitching – and all of a sudden here they are at the top of the National League Central, playing clean baseball, and looking a lot more like the club I think they envisioned at the end of the season.”
The Cardinals, of course, have been one of the best teams in baseball over the last decade and beyond. They have made the playoffs in 12 of 17 seasons since 2000 and have reached the World Series four times since 2004. They are 2-2 in those Fall Classics, winning it all in 2006 and 2011.
“I know people roll their eyes at this, but I don’t think (people) realize what the Cardinals mean to this city and just how good the fans are and what kind of a baseball town it is,” Hrabe said. “It’s been great. They’re on this incredible run going back to 2011. Last year was the first year that they missed the postseason going back to ’11. So it’s been great, and I think the ownership understands that. There’s something to be said for putting a really, really competitive team on the field every single year. I think the fans and the organization obviously expect to make the postseason every year. They basically have a chance to do that every single year, and it’s pretty cool to be a really, really small sliver of that and to have gotten to be a part of some incredible games and some incredible teams.”
The Cardinals won the NL Central in three straight seasons from 2013-15 before yielding to the Cubs in 2016. Chicago went 103-58 and won its first World Series since 1908.
“I think that’s what makes the Cubs thing even more exciting because both teams are good,” Hrabe said. “The Cubs obviously have been a class above everyone now over the last year, but it makes for a hell of a rivalry and a hell of a baseball season. We’re having a blast with it.”
The Cardinals lead the Cubs (18-19) by 3.5 games in the NL Central entering play May 16.