The St. Louis Cardinals come into this series one game back of the first place Milwaukee Brewers and 2.5 games ahead of the Reds. They are coming off of a road trip to Milwaukee and San Francisco where they went 3-3, but they had won 4 of their last 5 home games prior to that trip. Their 17-9 home record is tied for 4th best in the NL.
Offensively, you know their story. Albert Pujols is having another one of those years he always seems to have. On the plus side for the Reds, there have only been two games this year where Pujols has not reached base at least once and both of those games were in Cincinnati. Ryan Ludwick, Chris Duncan, and Skip Schumaker are also having pretty good years at the plate.
They will be facing Edinson Volquez, who was re-activated from the DL and takes the roster spot of Jared Burton who has been optioned to Louisville. Volquez was smacked around by the Cardinals on Mother's Day, giving up 7 runs on 6 hits over 6.2 innings. He gave up a home run to Pujols that day, adding to Prince Albert's monstrous batting line (.333/.600/1.333) against him. Schumaker (.375/.545/.625) is the only other Cardinals hitter to have faced Volquez more than 10 times, but the numbers suggest that if Volquez isn't back on his game right away tonight, it could be another rough one for him.
The Reds have not faced Todd Wellemeyer yet this year, but they did take 2 of 3 from his last season. Of course, none of the past matters much since this is a totally different team than what we saw last year. The combined numbers for players in the Reds lineup tonight who have faced Wellemeyer are not all that encouraging though. Tonight's lineup is a combined 2 for 19 against Wellemeyer with a double, a home run, a walk, and a HBP. There's not a lot of success to build off of, is there? Then again, lefties are batting .320/.403/.508 against Wellemeyer this year, and the Reds have their lefty line up in (as much as one can say that at this point). Hopefully we'll see big games out of Chris Dickerson, Jay Bruce, and Laynce Nix because they might be our best shot at winning tonight.
It's hard not to be discouraged after the way the series went in Milwaukee, but taking 3 out of 4 games in this series will put the Reds just a half-game behind the Cardinals for 2nd place. If they can do that, it won't be a totally blown road trip.