September 4: Cardinals (79-59) @ Reds (78-61)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s up to Shelby Miller to set the tone for the Cardinals as they look to break out of a recent funk that began with his poor start in Pittsburgh on Friday. After going 1-2 in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals have opened a four-game series in Cincinnati with a pair of losses. While all eyes are on the Pirates — who now sit two games ahead of St. Louis — the Cardinals have to watch out for the Reds. Cincinnati has crept to within 1.5 games of the Cardinals for the top wild card spot.

As for pregame news and notes from inside the Cardinals clubhouse:

  • Catcher Tony Cruz is down taking batting practice as I type this out. This is the first team BP that Cruz has participated in since going on the disabled list with a microfracture in his left forearm. Cruz resumed swinging in the cage on Tuesday.
  • Jake Westbrook seemed very encouraged by his extended bullpen session on Tuesday. The expectation is that he’ll come off the DL on Friday, the first day he is eligible. How he’ll be used will then depend upon what is going on around him. Manager Mike Matheny indicated that Westbrook would be a candidate to re-enter the rotation if a replacement is needed for someone who is struggling. A bullpen role would be the other option for Westbrook.
  • Michael Wacha will make the start against Pittsburgh on Sunday. That means the Cardinals’ rotation vs. the Pirates lines up to be Joe Kelly, Adam Wainwright and Wacha.

As for MLB.com’s video initiative for this series (which I described in yesterday’s blog entry), those interviews are slowly starting to appear on the cardinals.com site. Click here to watch my sit down with former Cardinals pitcher/current analyst Ricky Horton. In the clip, Horton discusses Wacha’s emergence, and Horton provides his take on the NL Central race. Also, the Pulse of the Postseason video (link here) provides a great recap of all the meaningful games played yesterday. For those Spanish speakers out there, Carlos Martinez joined MLB.com to discuss his return as a September call-up (link here).

CARDINALS LINEUP:

  1. Matt Carpenter (3B)
  2. Carlos Beltran (RF)
  3. Matt Holliday (LF)
  4. Allen Craig (1B)
  5. Yadier Molina (C)
  6. Jon Jay (CF)
  7. Daniel Descalso (SS)
  8. Kolten Wong (2B)
  9. Shelby Miller (RHP)

REDS LINEUP:

  1. Shin-soo Choo (CF)
  2. Brandon Phillips (2B)
  3. Joey Votto (1B)
  4. Jay Bruce (RF)
  5. Chris Heisey (LF)
  6. Todd Frazier (3B)
  7. Zack Cozart (SS)
  8. Ryan Hanigan (C)
  9. Bronson Arroyo (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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