After Houston finished a four-game sweep of the Cardinals at home with a 7-3 win in what could have been Roger Clemens's last home appearance.
At least for now.
But the four-game sweep just brought the Astros within 3 1/2 games with seven left to play. The Cardinals have seven games left also, but they also have a potential rainout makeup game against the Giants that will only be replayed if necessary.
The last time a game was made up after the end of the regular season was on October 5, 1981 when the Kansas City Royals had to go to Cleveland to potentially make up two games. The Royals lead Oakland by 1/2 game in the second half of the split season and if the Royals lost both games, Oakland would have been the champion of both halves and picked up an extra home game. The Royals won the first game, 9-0 and the second game was called off. 3,006 fans showed up in Cleveland to watch.
The Cardinals finish with seven games at home. Three against San Diego and four against Milwaukee. The Astros finish with seven games on the road. One at Philadelphia (a rainout makeup), three at Pittsburgh, and three at Atlanta.
St. Louis lost 2 of 3 earlier in the year in San Diego and have won 7 of 12 against the Brewers. Houston has lost 4 of 5 to Philadelphia, defeated Pittsburgh 10 of 13 times, and beat Atlanta 3 out of 4 times back in June.
The home/road situation will likely be the deciding factor. The Cardinals are 46-27 in the friendly, smiling confines of Busch Stadium where The Best Fans in Baseball can will the Redbirds over the finish line through the sheer power of their Midwestern wholesomeness. Houston is 33-41 away from home and the Astros have swept just one road series all year and that was at Wrigley Field in June.
Stranger things have happened, but barring Tony LaRussa channeling the spirit of Gene Mauch, the Cardinals should wrap up the NL Central before the weekend.
So sayeth the man who predicted Cleveland to win the World Series.