Written by Jake Siwak

This is a big series for the Cardinals – they stand 2.5 games out of the NL Central lead despite having the second highest run differential in all of the majors. They were playing very well just before the break and everything seems to be pointing in the right direction. 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 a sweep 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 Lance Lynn (10-4) and Mike Leake (3-6). Second, they’re going to have to hit, and hit well. They can’t rely on Wainwright to beat Matt Latos or Jake Westbrook to beat Johnny Cueto, 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.

UPDATE 4:52 CST: Kyle Lohse has now been slated to start Saturday’s game in Cincinnati, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, pushing Lynn’s first start of the second half to Monday evening against Milwaukee.