PITTSBURGH – For the first time in a decade, the St. Louis Cardinals will lose the season series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. That will be the fate this year, even with one road game Wednesday and a home series with Pittsburgh remaining on the schedule.
The Pirates have defeated the Cardinals five straight times dating back to June, seven of nine head-to-head matchups this year, and 10 of 13 dating back to the end of last season. The latest loss on Tuesday spoiled another chance in Adam Wainwright’s push for 200 wins.
The Cardinals have largely dominated in recent seasons against the Pirates, only losing three prior head-to-head season series in the 21st century. St. Louis has feasted with as many as 14 wins in recent season series against Pittsburgh, oftentimes rebuilding or out of playoff contention.
The recent lack of wins against the Pirates is telling as the Cardinals navigate through a season that could end with their worst finish in 100 years. It’s certainly something the Cardinals won’t want to become a habit, even if St. Louis and Pittsburgh both have October aspirations in future seasons.
Though the Cardinals are lining up to miss the postseason for the first time in four years, the schedule doesn’t really get much easier to close the campaign. The Cardinals will face last year’s NLCS opponents – the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres – in their next two series after Pittsburgh.
Philadelphia has been one of the more consistent NL Wild Card contending teams this season with a 69-57 record. San Diego is pushing through a bit of a disappointing season, like the Cardinals, at 60-67. But an offense with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto won’t be easy for a struggling pitching staff to tame by any means.
The Cardinals have both a home and road series remaining against Philadelphia and San Diego. In September, there will be two road series against the NL- and AL-leading squads in the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles. The prospect of playing spoiler will be alive, but with both teams near 80 wins already, upsets might be hard to come by.
The Cardinals also have two head-to-head series against division foes Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds remaining. It would seemingly look like another opportunity to play spoiler, but a combined 6-7 record against both clubs, paired with struggles against the Cubs and Pirates this year in the NL Central, doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence they’ll impact the NL Central race much down the stretch.
The Cardinals currently stand at 55-72 with a little more than a month to go in the season. St. Louis is on pace for its first losing record since 2007.