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'We’ll write our own ticket': Cards split DH

@anne__rogers
September 16, 2020

While the Cardinals navigate their way through the final two weeks of the regular season, eyeing a postseason spot while playing through a packed schedule, manager Mike Shildt and his players have repeatedly said they’re taking each day as it comes without looking too far ahead. The close National League

While the Cardinals navigate their way through the final two weeks of the regular season, eyeing a postseason spot while playing through a packed schedule, manager Mike Shildt and his players have repeatedly said they’re taking each day as it comes without looking too far ahead.

The close National League Central standings show what one day -- and one series -- can do. Just a few hours after Adam Wainwright threw a complete game in a 4-2 victory, the Brewers slugged their way to a 6-0 win to split the second doubleheader the two teams have played this week. The Cardinals lost the five-game series, 3-2.

Box score

“It was pretty much an even series,” Shildt said. “Two teams going at each other -- it was a competitive series, no doubt about that.”

At 22-23, St. Louis is once again one game under .500 this season with plenty of baseball left -- but a sense of urgency all the same. In the past three days, the Reds were on a winning streak that has brought them into the postseason race, and they are now tied with the Cardinals for second place in the NL Central.

MLB postseason standings

The Brewers are only one game back of second place, and they’ll come to St. Louis next weekend for the final series of the regular season, which figures to have huge implications for October. With the expanded postseason, the race is far from over.

The Cardinals’ goal is simple: Win and you’re in, and they have a lot of chances to do so in the next week and a half.

Shildt suspended 1 game for Crew dustup

“Control your own destiny -- wouldn’t want it any other way,” Shildt said. “We play well, we take care of business, then we’ll write our own ticket.”

The Brewers' offense awoke in the back half of this series with 18 runs on Tuesday and six against Cardinals rookie Johan Oviedo in Game 2 on Wednesday. He had a hard time with his command, hitting Avisail García with the first pitch of the game and walking Christian Yelich to set up Ryan Braun’s 350th home run. The Brewers scored one more in the first before Oviedo struck out Orlando Arcia to end the inning. Oviedo limited the damage until Jacob Nottingham crushed a two-run homer in the sixth to end Oviedo’s night.

“They took advantage of my mistakes,” Oviedo said. “I was a little bit wild, and they took advantage of it.”

Meanwhile, the Cardinals' offense was shut down. Lefty starter Brent Suter allowed two hits in three innings, Freddy Peralta pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts and Devin Williams struck out two in the sixth inning as part of an effective bullpen game.

Except for Tuesday, the Cardinals didn’t have to rely much on their bullpen this series, a testament to their starting pitching taking over the doubleheaders. The Cards only needed two-thirds of an inning from their relief corps, getting it from righty Seth Elledge, on Wednesday. It was a needed reset from last weekend against the Reds, and it will undoubtedly help in the coming days.

There are 11 days and 13 games left in the regular season, including the Cards' third doubleheader this week against the Pirates on Friday. There’s also a chance that they’ll play a doubleheader against the Tigers the day after the regular season ends to make up the games missed during their coronavirus outbreak in August. Wednesday was the Cardinals’ ninth doubleheader in a month.

“We played five games the last three days, so that’s going to have a big say in where we are in the standings,” outfielder Tyler O’Neill said. “A lot of ball recently, a lot of ball coming up. We’re doing out best. We’re doing our best to keep our bodies healthy, feel as good as we can. It’s a grind. We knew what we were getting into when we came back from the [coronavirus outbreak], and we’re just doing everything we can collectively to make it work."

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.