Cardinals clinch a postseason berth

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Though their sights are still set on a second straight division title, the Cardinals will take the field for their regular-season home finale knowing that their season will not end in a week.

As Cardinals players and staff were arriving at Busch Stadium to prepare to face the Reds on Sunday night, the Pirates were wrapping up a 1-0 win over the Brewers at PNC Park. The loss eliminated Milwaukee from the National League Central race and ensured the Cardinals of no worse than at least a Wild Card spot.

As a result, St. Louis can boast of being the only NL team to have advanced to the postseason each of the last four seasons.

The Cardinals’ cushion over the Pirates in the NL Central now sits at three games, with both teams having seven games left on their respective schedules. Pittsburgh, like St. Louis, will end the season with a pair of road series. The Cardinals’ magic number to clinch a division title is five, making Tuesday the earliest possible day for a champagne celebration.

Thought they’ll be leaving home (where they have a 51-29 record) after Sunday’s game, the Cardinals have a favorable schedule for a strong finish. They will be playing a pair of clubs (the Cubs and Diamondbacks) that are a combined 48 games below .500. Pittsburgh heads to Atlanta for four games before finishing the regular season in Cincinnati.

Also still in play is the opportunity to secure home-field advantage for the NL Division Series. While the Nationals, barring a free fall this week, are poised to lock down home-field advantage throughout the postseason by finishing with the NL’s best record, the Cardinals trail the current No. 2 seed, Los Angeles, by only a game heading into Sunday’s play.

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