According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mike Matheny said the following on Thursday about the Cards’ upcoming series against the Cincinnati Reds:

“I can’t wait to play them…We haven’t had a lot of conversations about it because we’re interested in staying in the here and now. But that’s going to be a fun series.”

Of course, the last time the Cardinals played the Reds, they were swept to open up the second half, setting them back to 4.5 ganes back in the NL Central division. Since that poor opening road trip in which they also lost 2 of 3 to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cards have gone 21-11, surging them to the second slot of the N.L. wild card race, which of course in 2012, means a playoff spot.

After Cincinnati, the Cards will travel to Pittsburgh, who took two out of three from the Cardinals last weekend. It is an understatement to say that this is a huge road trip for this team. Of course at this time of year, every road trip and home stand is “key”. But I do think these next six games will be a great test as to how the Cards will ultimately perform down the stretch.

As of late, the Cardinals have been clicking on all cylinders. Their starting pitching goes out and gives a solid outing on a daily basis, the lineup has been leaving significantly less runners on base, and the defense has been as clean as I’ve seen all season (hat tip to Jon Jay).

Asked if the trip’s significance was being overblown, Matheny said, “I don’t think you’re making a big deal of it, because it is a big deal. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s defining because we’ve all seen that every time we say, ‘This is do or die’ it’s not necessarily the case.”

Other News and Notes:

— Joe Kelly will become available tonight after throwing six innings in Sunday’s 19-inning loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

— David Freese became the third member of the Cardinals’ lineup to hit 70 RBIs on Thursday, joining Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran.

— Edward Mujica threw his 10th consecutive scoreless appearance since being acquired from the Miami Marlins on July 31. Mujica now has 10 1/3 shutout innings with the Cardinals.

As Always, Go Cards.