Sept. 22, 2011
The St. Louis Cardinals, recently playing their best baseball of the year, were ahead 6-2 and three outs away from pulling to within one game of the Atlanta Braves in the race for the National League wild card Thursday afternoon in St. Louis. In one half-inning, that all changed.
The Mets popped for six runs in the top of the ninth, stunning the Cardinals and dropping the Redbirds to two games back of the Braves as both second-place teams fight for a playoff spot.
Beginning Friday, both the Cardinals and the Braves will have six games remaining. The Cardinals play the Chicago Cubs in Busch Stadium this weekend and then travel to Houston to finish up the regular season with a three-game series there. The Braves play the Nationals in Washington this weekend, then finish the season with three home games against the Philadelphia Phillies, N.L. East champions for the past five years.
The Cardinals opened the month of September with a road win against the Milwaukee Brewers, only to lose two out of three home games against the Reds and the opening game in a home series against Milwaukee. Since Sept. 9, however, the Cardinals are 11-3. Not only did they sweep the Braves in a three-game series in St. Louis, they took three out of four games from the Phillies in Philadelphia. Thursday’s loss against the Mets, however, will be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
The Cardinals are 10-5 against the Cubs this year, 5-1 at home and 5-4 in Wrigley Field. The Redbirds are 11-4 against the Astros, 7-2 at home and 4-2 when playing in Houston.
The Braves have struggled in September, with a record of 8-13 thus far. In 2011, they are 3-3 in games played in Washington and 5-4 against the Nats in Atlanta for an 8-7 mark overall. The Braves are 5-10 against the Phillies this season, going 3-3 in Atlanta and 3-6 in Philadelphia.
The tentative pitching pairings for the Cubs-Cardinals series are as follows: Friday, Ryan Dempster (10-13, 4.63) for the Cubs vs. Chris Carpenter (10-9, 3.66) for the Cardinals; Saturday, Rodrigo Lopez (6-6, 4.71) for the Cubs vs. Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.47) for the Cards; and Sunday, Randy Wells (7-5, 5.71) vs. Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.85). Jackson is 5-2 with a 3.73 E.R.A. since joining the Redbirds earlier this season.
The pitching pairings for the Braves-Nationals series will pit Tommy John surgery. On Saturday, Brandon Beachy (7-2, 3.58) gets the start for the Braves against Chien-Ming Wang (3-3, 4.51) for the Nats. The Sunday matchup features Mike Minor (5-2, 4.27) for Atlanta against Tommy Milone (1-0, 3.32) for Washington.(15-10, 3.19) against the Nats’ fireballing phenom Stephen Strassburg (0-0, 1.29) on Friday. Strassburg has seen limited action this season due to
Cardinals Contract News: The Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract for rejuvenated outfielder, 35, for the 2012 season. In 2011, Berkman is hitting .300 with 31 home runs and 91 RBIs in 139 games. Last week, the Cardinals signed pitcher Carpenter, 36, to a two-year, $21 million contract through the 2013 season. The big question remaining, however, is whether three-time National League Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols, 31, will be back to play with the Cards next season and beyond. Pujols, who earlier this year reportedly turned down a deal worth an estimated $195 million over nine seasons, is widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
In July, The Punditty Project proposed terms for a Pujols contract that have gone largely unmentioned in the mainstream press. Punditty remains confident, however, that the Cardinals, Pujols and agent Dan Lozano will come to a deal similar to the one he proposed in July and will generously reward him with an honorarium of at least $100,000.
Pujols turned down $195 million last winter, fannation.com, Sept. 8, 2011