May 7: Cardinals (17-17) @ Braves (18-14)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

wpid-0507141539.jpgAfter slipping back to .500 last night, the Cardinals can at least even their road trip record at 3-3 with a win behind Adam Wainwright tonight. Wainwright is coming off his worst start of the season, though the good news is that he is facing a team other than the Cubs on Wednesday. Chicago has scored 10 of the 12 runs Wainwright has allowed this season.

Plenty of more movement in the Cardinals’ lineup today — most notably, the absence of Allen Craig. It’s not all that surprising that manager Mike Matheny would want to find a day off for Craig, whose supposed “arrival” with a four-hit game on April 30 has been followed by a 2-for-20 (no extra-base hits, no walks, six strikeouts) road trip. It is, however, somewhat surprising to see this day off come against a lefty starter.

Craig is 3-for-8 in his career against Atlanta’s Mike Minor and is batting .333 against left-handed pitchers this season. That’s in comparison to a .167 mark against righties.

Peter Bourjos, as Matheny hinted at yesterday, returns to centerfield. Randal Grichuk also starts. Who knows if the Cardinals will start hitting — but at least their outfield defense will be improved for a night.

Matheny (for competitive reasons) never states pregame which relievers may be unavailable for that night’s contest. I’d expect, though, that it’s hands-off of Pat Neshek, who has pitched in three of the last four games. A night off for Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist on Tuesday should make them options again in this series finale. Eric Fornataro is as fresh as can be. He hasn’t pitched this month.

To read the full game preview, click here.

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