Crunch Time.

Going into Game 4 tonight feels like a far cry from last week when the St. Louis Cardinals pushed the Atlanta Braves out of the postseason in a historic 13-1 win in Game 5.

Now the NLDS victory seems rather bittersweet or for some — it seems plain bitter. The deflated Cardinal dugout mimics the facial expressions everyone became so familiar with during the month of May. It’s bleak. It’s mournful. It’s dread. It feels like the end is in fact here.

The offense in the NLCS has been lackluster, being almost no-hit in two consecutive games. With the only help coming from José Martínez (batting .667 in the postseason), Don of the Bench Mafia in Game 1, the no-no ended for Aníbal Sanchéz in the bottom of the 8th. Game 2 would mirror the no-hitter until Paul Goldschmidt (batting .303 in the postseason) singled in the bottom of the 7th. Paul DeJong (batting .259 in the postseason) and Martínez would go down as the only other two hits in the game.

Yadier Molina reacts after flying out during the fifth inning of Game 2.

Game 3 picked up where the other games left off until Marcell Ozuna (batting .333 in the postseason) smacked a double off of Stephen Strasburg in the top of the 2nd. Unfortunately, Ozuna’s hit didn’t start a rally — it didn’t start anything. Caught in the middle of the most awkward tootblan in the postseason, Ozuna was quickly out and Martínez was easily stranded. Once again, Martínez and DeJong followed up with hits but couldn’t score until an error took place in left field with Juan Soto.

Pitching hasn’t been an issue during the NLCS. If anything, the starters have been doing exactly what is expected of them. But if the offense behind them continues to rack up Golden Sombreros, does it matter that they’ve pitched an absolute gem?

If you follow my Twitter, you’ll know that I’m a firm believer that Harrison Bader belongs in center field and that Dexter Fowler should be in right field. The two of them together is a wonderful force in the outfield and lately, we haven’t seen it. And depending on tonight’s results, we might have to wait until next season to see it again.

In 2004, the Boston Red Sox came back from a 0-3 series against the New York Yankees. Of course, the Red Sox went on to win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

With Mike Shildt finally changing the lineup is it too late for a miracle, little Cardinal magic to return?

Tune in to TBS at 7:00 CST for Game 4 of the NLCS.

Follow along on Twitter for all things baseball and postseason content @chelseabrooke / @dugoutdish

Photo credit: Getty Images

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