Cardinals Chirping at NL Central Crown
ST. LOUIS - After qualifying for the postseason on Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals still have one more goal before October: win the NL Central. The magic number to do just that is five.
That total could be reduced even more as the Redbirds return home to Busch Stadium, where they have compiled a record of 48-27 this year. They'll take on the Washington Nationals, a team whose playoff chances are not obsolete, but not favorable either; they are five games behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh for the wild card play-in with six games left in the season.
Taking the hill for the home squad is ace Adam Wainwright. He's had a great 2013 campaign and needs only five strikeouts to break his career-high of 213 set back in 2010. Wainwright is also 3 2/3 innings short of matching his highest single-season mark of 233 frames tossed in 2009.
On the mound for the Nationals will be the impressive rookie Tanner Roark. With a 1.08 ERA and 7-0 record, the future is looking bright for Washington regardless of the way this season comes to an end. Not to mention that Roark hasn't allowed a home run in his 41 2/3 innings in a big league jersey.
As for the Washington's bullpen, there may be troubles with relieving Roark. The Nationals are coming of a double-header in which they used seven different relief pitchers over a total of six innings.
Meanwhile for St. Louis, Matt Holliday may find himself on the sidelines for the second consecutive game. After not missing a game since his activation off the disabled list on July 27, Holliday was a late scratch on Sunday with back spasms. He is listed as questionable for Monday.
Washington comes into the three game set having won nine of their last 10 series dating back to Aug. 19. The Cardinals enter having not lost a series since dropping three of four to Cincinnati between Sept. 2nd and 5th.
The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15.