Our eyes have been pointed to this series for a couple of weeks now. In the grand scheme of things, it may not ultimately mean anything. The loser of the series could get hot later on and run away with the division. However, despite the fact that you can't clinch the division in May, it doesn't mean that you can't help your cause. A sweep would mean a 4-game lead, but a sweep is probably unrealistic. With the Reds being on the road, I'd be happy with not getting swept. If they can do that, they'll at least leave St. Louis in a tie for first. With the Cubs sitting 6 games out and in third place, this could easily turn into a 2-team race, and the key at this point is to not slip up and let the Cardinals get any sort of a lead in the division.
I keep waiting to see Jaime Garcia falter, but somehow, he hasn't yet. In fact, the last team to score on Garcia was the Reds, who faced him 17 days ago (2 starts). The Reds are one of only two teams to score more than one run off of the 23-year old left-hander in 9 starts. Mike Leake has wowed us this year, but damn, Garcia has outdone even Leake.
Thankfully, we appear to smack dab in the middle of a Goodroyo cycle with Bronson Arroyo. The Reds are 5-1 in his last 6 starts as he's posted a 2.66 ERA over 44 innings. He's getting a lot of help from his defense, but that's just the style of game that Arroyo pitches. It's why he'll never be an ace, but he does pitch like one for stretches. As long as he can keep the ball in the park, he seems to give his fielders a pretty good chance to turn the play into an out. I'm not sure if he has control over that, but I would guess there is something that he does that puts the play to his advantage. Might be an interesting study.
The Cardinals bats are starting to wake up a bit, averaging 5.2 runs per game over their last nine. And most of you already know that Albert Pujols hit 3 home runs yesterday, so he'll probably light up the scoreboard some. The key is to not get hurt in critical situations. If the Reds pitchers can avoid big mistakes, maybe they might have a chance to take the series.
Go Reds! They're my favorite team!