Back at Busch: Cardinals set to play Cincinnati in home opener

News-DemocratApril 6, 2014 

— Rain is in the forecast Monday as the St. Louis Cardinals return to Busch Stadium for home-opening series against National League Central opponents Cincinnati and Chicago.

The Cardinals (3-3), who already were pestered by Mother Nature in their season-opening series in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, are scheduled to face the Reds (2-4) at 3:15 p.m. as Busch Stadium III enters its ninth year.

St. Louis took two of three from Cincinnati last week at Great American Ball Park in a series plagued by 6 hours, 22 minutes of rain delays. On-field playing time was only slightly longer at 6:26.

Right-hander Michael Wacha (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will pitch for the Cardinals, his second start of the season after getting a no-decision Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Wacha is 0-0 in his brief career against the Reds, although he threw 10 scoreless innings against them last season in one start and one relief appearance.

Wacha will be opposed by Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani, who was 2-0 against St. Louis last season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Cingrani is the first pitcher in major-league history to make at least 19 starts and not allow more than five hits in any of them.

Reds see red

The Cardinals have won eight of the last nine series vs. the Reds. Even more amazing has been Cincinnati's struggles in St. Louis. Since the start of the 2003 season, the Reds have won just three of their 30 series at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have won 25 series, while two others have been split.

The Reds' only series victories in St. Louis since the start of 2003 have been in May 2003, June 2006 and September 2011. The Cardinals have taken five consecutive series in St. Louis.

On the bump

The pitching pairings for the remainder of the series are: Lance Lynn (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (0-1, 8.31 ERA), 7:15 p.m. Tuesday; and Shelby Miller (0-1, 8.44 ERA) vs. Mike Leake (0-1, 5.40 ERA), 12:45 p.m. Wednesday.

All three games will be broadcast on KMOX-AM 1120. The games Monday and Wednesday will be televised by Fox Sports Midwest; the game Tuesday will be televised by Fox Sports1.

Ailing

The Reds opened the season with eight players on the disabled list, more than any other team in baseball.

They are: closer Aroldis Chapman; right-handers Mat Latos, Jonathan Broxton and Brett Marshall; left-hander Sean Marshall; catcher Devin Mesoraco; third baseman Jack Hannahan; and outfielder Skip Schumaker.

None of the players are expected to return for the series against the Cardinals. Mesoraco is the closest to returning; he is on a rehabilitation assignment at Class AA Pensacola.

Home openers

The Cardinals are just 2-6 in their previous eight home opener at Busch Stadium III. They lost to the Reds 13-4 last year when Cincinnati scored nine-runs in the ninth against Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski.

The only home openers won by the Cardinal at Busch Stadium III were 2006 vs. Milwaukee and 2010 vs. Houston.

Who's hot, who's not?

First baseman Matt Adams is off to the best start among the Cardinals' hitters with a .318 average (7-for-22) and three doubles after six games. Third baseman Matt Carpenter is batting .286 (6-for-21) with a .423 on-base percentage.

At the other end of the pendulum is right fielder Allen Craig, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and center fielder Peter Bourjos.

Craig is batting .091 (2-for-22) with two RBIs, while Peralta is hitting .095 (2-for-21). Peralta, however, has contributed two home runs and four RBIs. Bourjos is 0-for-13 with six strikeouts and did not play Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals' bullpen has a 7.07 ERA in 14 innings. Closer Trevor Rosenthal was the only reliever who didn't surrender at least one run in the trip to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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