St. Louis skipper Tony La Russa made a rather profound statement following a closed-door meeting with his players on Thursday after they'd been swept by the New York Mets to fall into a virtual tie for first place with the Reds.
"Optimistically and realistically, we are in contention," La Russa said. "It hasn't been the most consistent, great baseball that our club has played ... but we are in contention."
The Cardinals who, by this point in the season, had been preparing to rest stars for the playoffs the past couple of years, find themselves in a race with the Reds for the NL Central Division title.
This territory is as unfamiliar for St. Louis as it is for the Reds.