St. Louis goes for the sweep today at home against Arizona. The Cards have yet to complete a three-game sweep this season despite plenty of chances. Another chance comes against a scuffling Arizona team set to throw rookie pitcher Barry Enright who will be making his major league debut. Enright will undoubtedly be nervous, so this is a golden opportunity for the Cards to get the elusive sweep of the three-game series. The Snakes are an inexperienced team that finds ways to lose games and with a first-timer on the mound, the prospects for a win are slim.
While failing to record a sweep this season may seem unimportant, it’s a big deal. It means St. Louis hasn’t put together a solid win streak. This team hasn’t broken out and that’s why it is in a battle with Cincinnati for first place. A three-game sweep will give them unprecedented momentum and confidence that could carry them into the All-Star break on that signature win streak.
This team has all the pieces, it hasn’t come together yet though. A big win streak can break a season open and leave division rivals in the dust. The Cubs used a big June in 2007 to take hold of the division and continued that success into 2008. The Texas Rangers are currently riding Josh Hamilton on a huge streak that has them sitting in first place. While Texas may not have the pitching, they are winning games and the longer the streak goes, the more realistic the playoffs get. Everyone gains confidence and that’s the biggest key to winning. When a team is confident, they’re good. They make all the plays and get the clutch hits because everything is clicking.
The Cardinals are still searching for that chemistry this year. Maybe this series can be the start of their push for the division. It’s early, but the Cards could take control with a few weeks of solid ball. We saw it happen in 2007. It can happen for the Redbirds in 2010. The Reds are a fighting bunch, but some separation in the wins column could end their Cinderella bid. If St. Louis takes control, Cincy’s swagger goes down and the second they’re down is the second it’s over.
The same can be said of the Cards. If the Reds seize the moment sooner, the final weeks of the season could be brutal. The team that can find the spark sooner will be better for it.
Closing out the sweep against a weaker opponent could be the spark the Cardinals need.
Jeff Suppan will take the ball in his fourth start for St. Louis with hopes of improving on each of his starts. After throwing five innings in his last start, it would be nice to get six from the veteran. He’s also looking for his first win of the season. It would be a nice day of firsts for the Redbirds if Suppan is effective for the win to complete the sweep.