The St. Louis Cardinals are set to begin their fourth straight series versus a NL Central foe today when they host the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium. This will be the second series between the teams already as the Cardinals won the first in Cincinnati last week.
Today’s matchup features the Opening Day starters for each team, Kyle Lohse for the Redbirds and Johnny Cueto for the Reds. In the second game on Wednesday, Jaime Garcia will face off against Mat Latos. In the series finale Thursday afternoon, Adam Wainwright looks to bounce back against Bronson Arroyo.
After the Cards took two of three from the Reds at the end of the road trip, they came home and took two of three from the Chicago Cubs. The Redbirds have won all four series so far this season.
As for the Reds (4-6), after they won the series finale with the Cardinals, they went on to lose three straight to the Washington Nationals before winning the last game of that series as well. The Reds are three games back of the Cardinals heading into the series.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS LEADERS
- AVG – Matt Carpenter .409
- HR – Carlos Beltran, David Freese & Yadier Molina (3)
- RBI – Freese (11)
- SB – Beltran, Rafael Furcal (2)
- OPS – M. Carpenter (1.235)
- WINS – Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook (2)
- ERA – Westbrook (0.64)
- Ks – Lance Lynn (13)
CINCINNATI REDS LEADERS
- AVG – Zack Cozart (.342)
- HR – Jay Bruce (3)
- RBI – Ryan Ludwick (7)
- SB – Drew Stubbs & Scott Rolen (1)
- OPS – Cozart (.967)
- WINS – Aroldis Chapman (2)
- ERA – Chapman (0.00)
- Ks – Chapman (15)
Lohse is looking to win his third straight start to open the season. In his previous start against the Reds, he allowed one run on four hits in six innings of work. His counterpart, Johnny Cueto did not factor into the decision in his start against the Cardinals last week when he was knocked from the game after five innings of three-run ball.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals are fortunate to have a deep bench. Lance Berkman has already missed five games due to a strained calf and his replacement, Matt Carpenter, is outhitting just about everyone on the team right now. Carpenter came into spring camp professing he knew he had to make himself more versatile in order to crack the 25-man roster. So he pursued playing first base (he plays a natural third base) and he got some time in the outfield during Spring Training. Manager Mike Matheny didn’t hesitate and inserted Carpenter at first when Berkman went down. Carpenter is showing that he belongs on the team and soon may begin to encroach on other’s positions just so Matheny can get him into the game.
There is no definitive word on Berkman’s return and it will be interesting to see if Carpenter gets some time elsewhere to keep his hot bat in the lineup should Berkman try to get back into the starting lineup. If Berkman is good to go, maybe Carpenter steps into Freese’s slot? Freese is battling a finger injury which is making it difficult for him to hold the bat. The other players who can play third base are Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene. Each is hitting .200, so using Carpenter would make the most sense. I’ve written a few times about how important Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig are to this team. I’ve suggested that it is going to be difficult Schumaker and Craig to get a lot of at-bats when they return if the starters are mainly healthy. If they aren’t, the choice to fill in may not be as clear as before, Matt Carpenter has arrived.
Topics: Adam Wainwright, Allen Craig, Aroldis Chapman, Cardinals, Carlos Beltran, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Daniel Descalso, David Freese, Drew Stubbs, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Jon Jay, Kyle Lohse, Lance Berkman, Lance Lynn, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, NL Central, Ryan Ludwick, Scott Rolen, Skip Schumaker, St Louis Cardinals, Tyler Greene, Yadier Molina, Zack Cozart