The St. Louis Cardinals won the first game of their away set with the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday, which gives them five more must-win games against the NL Central leaders before they're cut loose with a month of baseball to go. If the Cardinals win all of them they'll remain four-and-a-half back of the Brew Crew, whose scorching summer put the Cardinals as many as 10 games back in a disappointing August.
With Jaime Garcia sitting out his scheduled start against the Brewers do to recent poor performance, that won't be easy. Brandon Dickson, the Memphis Redbirds' ace-by-default, will get the last start of the Milwaukee leg of the series on September 1, the day rosters expand, in his place.
The NL Central race as we knew it is over—what remains is to hope the Cardinals get as impossibly hot as the Brewers were a few weeks ago. To do it, they'll have to start by steamrolling the Brewers across two three-game series.
For a complete set of NL Central standings, updated nightly, check Viva El Birdos, SB Nation's Cardinals blog.