May 7: Cardinals (17-11) @ D-Backs (14-15)
For the first time since Opening Day (which seems oh, so long ago), the Cardinals are set to face a team not housed in the National League Central. No one in baseball had such a lopsided schedule to begin the year. In fact, before tonight’s game against Arizona, St. Louis was the only club in the Majors not to have already played at least one series against a team from all three league divisions.
The Cardinals ended their early-season tour through the Central with a 16-11 record against those division opponents. They won seven out of nine series, though never did earn a sweep. And as mentioned in a recent blog entry, the Cards did leave some wins on the table.
They currently lead Cincinnati by 2.5 games and are at least four games ahead of each of the other four division teams. No one is further back than six games.
“My read is you can’t take any of them lightly,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We’ve seen some pretty good baseball from these teams.”
Now the imbalance goes in the other direction. The Cardinals have 58 more games before the All-Star break. Of those, 50 will be played against teams outside the NL Central.
Since I did not travel with the team to Houston, it’s been a few days since the last Lance Berkman update. So here’s a fresh one: Berkman jogged again on Sunday and this time without discomfort. Certainly an encouraging sign. He was scheduled to do some additional testing of his last calf today and the team will re-evaluate from there. Berkman’s status is still characterized as day-to-day. Because Berkman has been able to continue taking swings/batting practice, he is not expected to head out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
We’ve got an intriguing pitching matchup tonight with Lance Lynn (5-0, 1.60) set to face Arizona’s Joe Saunders (2-1, 1.24). Lynn is the only pitcher in the Majors to win each of his first five starts. The other three pitchers who have five wins (Madison Bumgarner, David Price and James Shields) have each started six games.
Lynn has made two previous appearances against Arizona, both in relief last year. He allowed two hits in three innings. He has never pitched at Chase Field, which currently has its roof closed. Not sure if plans are to keep it shut for the game.
“For Lance to continue to do what he’s done, that’s a pretty high bar for himself,” Matheny said. “We don’t make too much of a big thing about it around here except to continue to encourage him to do what he’s been doing.”
One coverage-related note: I will not be writing the Cardinals’ notebook and game story tonight. I am obviously here in Arizona, but I’ve been pulled to write a special story on something that is to be kept a secret for a few more hours. Though the story will not be Cardinals-related, I’ll still direct you to the piece later. The story is one that transcends team allegiance. I promise.
Long-time baseball writer Barry Bloom will handle Cards’ coverage, though I’ll be around to add to the blog and tweet, as necessary.
- Rafael Furcal (SS)
- Carlos Beltran (RF)
- Matt Holliday (LF)
- Allen Craig (1B)
- David Freese (3B)
- Yadier Molina (C)
- Jon Jay (CF)
- Tyler Greene (2B)
- Lance Lynn (RHP)
- Manny Parra (CF)
- Justin Upton (RF)
- Jason Kubel (LF)
- Miguel Montero (C)
- Cody Ransom (3B)
- Lyle Overbay (1B)
- Aaron Hill (2B)
- Willie Bloomquist (SS)
- Joe Saunders (LHP)
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