Cubs/Cards Enter Pivotal Series; Both with High Hopes
With the Milwaukee Brewers 1.5 games up on the Chicago Cubs entering Monday night, the forthcoming series between division rivals Chicago Cubs and Saint Louis Cardinals proves to be the most significant of the season thus far.
The Cardinals will attempt to rescue themselves from a series sweep by the Brewers Monday night, as the Cubs receive a much needed day off before traveling to Saint Louis for a pivotal three game road test against the Cardinals. Seldom do we consider a series one fifth of the way into the MLB season pivotal, but the National League Central is something more than ordinary this season.
With a triumph over the Cardinals on Monday night, the Brewers will retain a two game lead over the Cubs. Accordingly, the winner of the Chicago/St. Louis series will stay within a game or two of the Division leading Brewers.
The Cubs are entering the series winning seven of their last 10. The Cards, on the other hand, have skirmished to win four out of the last ten—three of which were against the Pirates, whose current position is last place in the NL Central.
The series commences on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. Lou Pineilla lists the Cubs southpaw, Ted Lilly, as the starter against the Cardinals’ Joel Pineiro. Lilly enters the series 5-2 and was 3-0 against the Cardinals last season. With Sean Marshall back out of the bullpen, Lilly likely relies on reliever Neal Cotts and closer Kevin Gregg to pick up where he leaves off.
But, the Cardinals are resting a great deal on the shoulders of Joel Pineiro. They are eyeing him to set the pulse for the series as Manager Tony La Russa has penciled in former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright as starters for the next two games--normally a lethal sequence, but they are both coming back off injuries.
So, while the Cubs plan to go about business as usually—dominant pitching and high on base percentage—the Cardinals may be forced to play slightly craftier, likely with superior defensive play and aggressive base running.
These adversaries offer the ingredients to what guarantees to be a celebrated midseason series.
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