While I'm thinking about it, I should make a post about the Reds' upcoming schedule. Between now and the All-Star break, the Reds play the Royals (2 games), Dodgers (3), @Mariners (3), @A's (3), Indians (3), Phillies (3), @Cubs (4), @Mets (3), and @ Phillies (4). That's 28 games remaining, with 16 against teams with a .500 or better record. Only the Royals, Mariners, Indians, and Cubs are below .500, and three of them play in the stronger American League.
At the same time, the Cardinals upcoming schedule includes the @Diamondbacks (3 games, including tonight's game), Mariners (3), A's (3), @Blue Jays (3), @Royals (3), Diamondbacks (3), Brewers (3), @Rockies (3), and @Astros (3). They've got 27 games remaining, with only the Blue Jays and A's being above .500, and the Rockies right at it. Not only that, but their games remaining against the teams below .500 include some really bad teams. Arizona, Cleveland, Seattle, Kansas City, Houston, and Milwaukee all have winning percentages of .426 or less. That means the Cards play 18 of their 27 remaining games against six teams that have among the eight lowest winning percentages in the league. They should really clean up.
When you combine the talent disparity between the Cardinals and the Reds with the difference in the upcoming schedule, the Cardinals have a chance to open up a nice lead in the Central before the break. On the other hand, if the Reds can finish the first half strong, avoid any long losing streaks, and stay within a couple of games of the Cardinals, they can maintain their new found swagger and position themselves very nicely as legitimate contenders for the Central for the rest of the year. This is an important stretch, and there's little room for error here. A few more losses like tonight's 6-5 extra inning affair may really cost the team down the stretch.