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THE CARDINALS ARE COMING TO TOWN

8.8.10
BY:MEH
"IT'S TIME."
THE CARDINALS ARE COMING TO TOWN
scott rolen 50 cent
In case you vacationed under a rock over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds swept the Chicago Cubs in three games at Wrigley Field. The Reds outscored the Cubs 18-7 during their last trip to Chicago this season as they moved to a pair of games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central. The Reds reduced their "magic number" to fifty with as many games left in the regular season.

Bronson Arroyo opened the series on the mound for the Reds and Travis Wood ended it. Both pitched admirably as Edinson Volquez placed a rugged gem in between. Arroyo struck out seven during seven scoreless innings of five hit ball on Friday and Travis Wood went 6.1 innings (4H, 3ER, 3K) on Sunday allowing three runs on four hits. Wood' s first five innings were of no-hit variety until Cubs' catcher Koyie Hill broke it up with a one-out single in the sixth.

On Saturday, Edinson Volquez struggled with his control (4BB), but allowed just one run on six hits in 6.2 innings of work. Aside from Francisco Cordero nearly blowing his seventh save of the season on Saturday, and notching crumbling numbers during his 1.1 innings of work (2ER, 5BB), the Reds' bullpen was brilliant against the Cubs. Take Cordero out of the picture and the bullpen (Ondrusek, Masset, Rhodes, Bray, and Smith) pitched 5.2 no-hit scoreless innings (5K, 2BB).

Scoring eighteen times during the series, the Reds' offense made several strides. On Saturday, in between off-days, Drew Stubbs went 3-4 with two runs scored and two RBI and led the Reds to a 4-3 victory. Jay Bruce went 3-4 during Sunday's 11-4 win and drove in two runs. After going 0-4 with three strikeouts on Friday and sitting on Saturday, Jonny Gomes went 1-1 with four walks and four runs scored on Sunday. All three struggled mightily during the month of July (Gomes: .240, Bruce: .200, Stubbs: .213) and will be major factors to the Reds' success during the remainder of the season.

Monday, the Reds will carry their momentum into a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ballpark. The Reds could set themselves far apart from second place during St. Louis' last visit to Cincinnati this season. Currently two games up on the Cards, and a season-high sixteen games above the .500 mark, the next three days will be epic, indeed.

"Itís time," Dusty Baker said. "People wanted us to focus on it earlier. We had to focus on the Cubs. Itís hard to sweep them in Chicago. That was a big sweep for us. Now (the Cardinals) are here and now we deal with it. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be fun and it's the next to last series where we know we can take care of our own business."



MONDAY: Mike "Godzilla" Leake (7-3, 3.86) vs. Chris Carpenter (12-3, 2.91) at 7:10pm on ESPN

Mike Leake has faced the Cardinals just once during his 2010 rookie season. During the MLB Civil Rights Game on May 15, Leake went six innings and allowed two runs on four hits. Leake received his fourth victory of the season as the Reds beat Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals 4-3.

During his 13-year major league career, Chris Carpenter has faced the Reds sixteen times. Carpenter has owned the Reds with a 10-3 record and a 1.69 ERA over his career and is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Reds this season, but is recovering from his worst month of the season. In July, Carpenter went 2-2 in six starts and posted a 3.60 ERA. Joy Votto owns a .400 career average against Carpenter, Jonny Gomes is 0-7 with five strikeouts, and Chris Dickerson's .385 career average against Carpenter could easily place him into a Reds' uniform on Monday night.

TUESDAY: Johnny Cueto (11-2, 3.24) vs. Jaime Garcia (9-5, 2.53) at 7:10pm

Jonny Cueto is 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against St. Louis this season. Over his three-year career, Cueto has faced the Cardinals eight times and has posted a 6.39 ERA along with a 3-2 record. Cueto has kept Albert Pujols quiet during his fourteen at-bats against him this season (.214, 3BB, 2K), but has allowed Matt Holliday (8AB, .375, 4RBI) to succeed.

In his first two career starts against the Reds this season, Jaime Garcia is undefeated (2-0). During 12.1 Innings pitched, Garcia struck out twelve while allowing four runs on twelve hits. Jonny Gomes (3-5) and Drew Stubbs (1-5) have both driven in two runs off Garcia this season.

WEDNESDAY: Bronson Arroyo (12-6, 3.83) vs. Adam Wainwright (16-6, 2.07) at 12:35pm

Overall, Bronson Arroyo is 7-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 23 starts against the Cardinals during his career. In 2010, Arroyo is 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA against the Redbirds in three starts. Albert Pujols is hitting just .143 in seven at-bats off Arroyo this year. In ten at-bats in '10, Matt Holliday has four hits (1HR, 3RBI) when facing Arroyo.

Adam Wainwright has faced the Reds twice this season (1-1, 4.45). During his six career starts against Cincinnati, Wainwright is 2-3 with a 4.68 ERA. During nine starts during the day this season, he is 8-0 with a 1.45 ERA. Joey Votto and Drew Stubbs are both hitless when facing Wainwright this season.

"It will be tough," Dusty Baker said. "This is what championship baseball is all about."

MORE NEWS:
-Bring on the Cards and let the fun begin HAL McCOY
-Big-ticket series old hat to Cards
PAUL DAUGHERTY
-Titanic Struggle: Sweep Edition
REDLEG NATION
-Baker comes to Cordero's defense
JOHN FAY
-Dinner with Pete
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