After sweeping the Pirates in a weekend series on September 6-8, the Cardinals held a 1.5 game lead on both the Pirates and Reds heading into a home stretch that favored the Redbirds.
However, the Pirates have proved that they will not go quietly into that good night, as they have proceeded to go 6-2 since then, while the Cardinals have sputtered to a 4-3 record, putting the two teams into a tie for first.
In the meantime, the Reds have treaded water, going 3-4 during that stretch, to remain within striking distance, 2.5 games behind the Pirates and Cardinals.
With 12 games left for the Pirates and Cards and 11 for the Reds, we are now in crunch time. All 3 teams would prefer to claim the division title and avoid the one-game Wild Card playoff.
In addition, the division leaders are only 2.5 games behind the Braves for the best record in the NL and home field advantage in the playoffs.
So there is a lot at stake as we finish off these last two weeks of the season.
The potential saving grace for the Cardinals is that the Pirates and Reds play 6 of their last 9 games against each other, meaning one of them has to lose. If the Cards can take care of business against the Brewers, Nats and Cubs, they should be in good shape.