This is a big series for the Cardinals – they stand 2.5 games out of the NL Central lead and need to begin the second half with a solid series. They were playing very well just before the break and everything seems to be pointing in the right direction, having taken 6 of their last 8 games before the break. However, they could take an immediate step back by losing either 2 or 3 games in this series, and it is crucial that doesn’t occur. Further, I really do think that this division will end up being a two-horse race between Cincy and St. Louis, and losing three games here would be a considerable set back. They face two strong pitchers, and have to do so in Cincinnati- no small task.
So what do they have to do in order to steal 2 games from this series? First, they have to take the easy one- the matchup between Lynn (10-4) and Leake (3-6). Second, they’re going to have to hit, and hit well. They can’t rely on Wainwright to beat Latos or Westbrook to beat Cueto on their own, so in order to win one of those two games the Cardinals are going to have to score runs. They were so good early in the year at getting on base early in the game and driving opposing starters out of the game early, and they are going to have to get back to that in order to win this series.
The last time these teams played… It was just mid-April and the Cardinals took two of three from the Reds in St. Louis. They won the first game is extras (2-1 F/10) and the Cards tagged Latos for 8 ER in just 5 2/3 innings pitched in Game 2. That was, however, the last time he has lost this season. The Reds took Game 3, beating Wainwright by hitting 3 home runs.