A Birds Eye View: Cardinals/Reds Preview

The most official, yet unofficial, annual holiday in St. Louis is here again: Opening Day. And this year, return home of the Cardinals brings much into its fold, both traditional and not. While the pageantry of the Clydesdales march around the Busch Stadium outfield, leading in Hall of Famers to remind all of what the tradition of the Cardinals truly is will set the tone, a stark reminder of the greatest loss the organization has ever taken will be there as well. Not the disheartening loss at the hands of Barry Zito in the last game played on the field, but rather the passing of the greatest Cardinal of them all, Stan Musial.


Around this all however, the business at hand on the field is there as well, as the team’s most potent competition in the division waits in the Cincinnati Reds. With all of these factors combined, this will surely be an unforgettable Opening Day, and one that will be played with an emotion that is rarely seen in April. Here’s all you’ll need to know to get ready for the debut series of the season of the home season.

The Cardinals coming in: The Cardinals (3-3) are coming in as winners of their previous two games, including a 14-3 dominance of the San Francisco Giants yesterday afternoon. In the game they scored 14 runs on 15 hits, a scoring trend that has been the norm this season. Despite being third in the National League in runs scored, they have hit only four home runs on the year, with three of them coming in one game vs. the Diamondbacks last Tuesday.

Pete Kozma enters as the most consistent Cardinal bat thus far. The rookie shortstop has continued his improbable hitting run with eight hits in 24 at-bats (.333), along with a team best five RBI…Matt Carpenter enters tied with Kozma with eight hits as well, half of which have been doubles, putting him atop the NL in the category…Matt Holiday has matched the five RBI mark to lead the team as well…Matt Adams has six hits in 10 at-bats, spread across two starts thus far…Adam Wainwright has struck out 12 in his first 13 innings and Trevor Rosenthal is averaging 13.50 strikeouts per nine innings over three appearances.

The Reds coming in: Cincinnati (4-2, first place NL Central) enters as an impressive offensive force as well, although they are doing it in a different fashion than the Cardinals. They have hit 11 home runs as a team, with both Todd Frazier and Shin-Soo Choo having three a piece. They enter their first road trip of the year in the midst of a grueling opening schedule, coming off winning series versus the Los Angeles Angles and Washington Nationals. They have scored at least five runs in five of six games, including a 15-0 win over the Nationals on Friday.

Frazier is the hottest hitter in the young National League season. He’s leading the league in batting average at .480 (12 for 25), and has driven in nine runs as well. He has taken over as full-time third baseman a year after finishing third in Rookie of the Year balloting, and leads the team in five categories…Joey Votto has opened up slowly, with a .238 average and 1 RBI…Cardinal Nation’s public enemy number Brandon Phillips returns with nine hits in his first 27 at-bats…Jay Bruce has 10 strikeouts in 29 at-bats…the Reds bullpen is surrendering only a .198 batting average against, and is highlighted by Aroldis Chapman’s nine strikeouts vs. 16 batters thus far


Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (3:15)—Jaime Garcia (1-0) vs. Mat Latos (0-0): Garcia surrendered one run across 5.2 innings in his debut vs. Arizona last Tuesday. In his career, Garcia has 20-11 home record, with a 2.48 ERA. Versus Cincinnati, he has an 8-2 career record. Latos gave up seven hits over 6.2 innings in a no-decision outcome for him, but 5-4 win for the Reds. In 2012 vs. St. Louis, he was beaten to a 7.84 ERA and 1-2 record.

Wednesday (7:15)—Lance Lynn (0-0) vs. Bronson Arroyo (1-0): Lynn couldn’t escape the fifth inning is his start, surrendering six hits, four runs and tossing 94 pitches. He has a 7.50 ERA vs. Cincinnati all time. Arroyo went six innings, giving up three runs in his win vs. the Angels last Wednesday. He is in the last year of his deal with the Reds, and has an 8-13 career record vs. STL.

Thursday (12:45)—Jake Westbrook (0-1) vs. Homer Bailey (1-0): Westbrook didn’t surrender an earned run, but still took the loss in his 116 pitch, 6.2 inning debut on Friday. The only run coming on a base loaded walk following an error. Bailey had a similarly impressive start, going six innings giving up only two hits, but getting the win. In 13 career starts, Bailey has a 3-7 record with a 5.00 ERA.


Injury Impact—St. Louis: Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal (Out for season), Jason Motte (15 Day DL, elbow issue), David Freese (15 Day DL, returns today). Cincinnati: Ryan Ludwick (Separated shoulder, out for four months), Nick Masset (15 Day DL)

A look back: The Cardinals won the season series in 2012, 8-7. They outscored the Reds 60-46. On the year, the Reds won the NL Central with a 97-65 record, while the Cardinals finished in second place with an 88-74 record. Both made the postseason, with the Reds losing in the NL Division Series 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals lost the National League Championship Series to the same Giants, four games to three. All-time, the Cardinals lead the series 1,064-946 in the Modern Era, with their first game taking place in May, 1901.


News and Notes

–          Third baseman David Freese will make his season debut with the Cardinals after a rehab stint from a late spring back injury. While rehabbing with the Memphis Redbirds over the weekend, he had four hits in 12 at-bats, with two doubles and four RBI.

–          The team will reveal a display for Stan Musial, featuring his #6 and the logo the team is wearing as a patch on his left shoulder, in the outfield during the pregame events.

–          Injured pitcher Chris Carpenter is expected to participate in the pregame introductions for players today. It will be the first time he has been in uniform with the club this season.

–          Promotional giveaways for the series include a Magnetic 2013 schedule on Monday and a charity haircut day, sponsored by Great Clips, on Wednesday.


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