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Cards Look to Go into the All Star Break in First Place

The St. Louis Cardinals are looking to be the leader at the All-Star Break in baseball’s toughest division. The National League Central Division has three teams headed for the post season with the Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds all with at least 50 wins so far. The Atlanta Braves are the only other team in the National League with 50 wins. The Cardinals lead the Central with a record of 56-35. one game over the Pirates who are 55-36.The Reds are 52-31, five games out.  On Friday, the Reds beat the Braves 4-2. Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman nailed down the save while topping 100 MPH on several pitches. Bronson Arroyo went seven strong innings for the win.

The Cardinals took down the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field 3-2 with Carlos Beltran hitting a single, double and a triple for the winning Cards. The Cubs have been playing the role of spoiler as of late, but the Cardinals always seem to get the better of the biggest rivals. Joe Kelly won his first game of the season in his second start since moving into the starting rotation. He is now 1-3. Edward Mujica got his 20th save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

The Pirates won an extra inning thriller over the New York Mets when Jody Mercer singled up the middle to score Andrew McCutcheon with the winning run in a 3-2 win in 11 innings. It was the eighth time the Mets have lost this season in walk-off fashion. Pittsburgh still has a shot to go into the All-Star Break in first place, but more importantly, the Pirates are in fantastic shape for their first playoff berth since 1992. In fact, it is looking as if the Bucs will have their first winning record since that season.

The unfortunate thing for these three teams is that two of them will have to face each other in a one game, do-or-die playoff game. That is a shame, but that is the way it goes sometimes with teams split up into different divisions. At least one of them won’t be guaranteed to miss the playoffs entirely, which would have been the case two seasons ago. This promises to be a fantastic race the rest of the way.

In the second half of the season, pay attention to the Cubs. They are hanging in lately and may be one of those spoiler teams in September. Last weekend, they took two of three from the Pirates.

The team in the worst shape in the division is clearly the Milwaukee Brewers. At 37-55, things were already bad enough, but now their star player, Ryan Braun is looking Ata possible 100-game suspension for his involvement in the South Florida, Bio-Genesis lab probe. It has been a rapid decline for the Brewers since winning the division on only two years ago.


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