On the bright side, the Cardinals say that left fielder Matt Holliday was removed from Wednesday's game only as a precaution and he is expected to be ready to go on Friday when Atlanta comes to town.
Holliday hurt his knee when he stumbled running out a grounder to first and banged it on the turf. He continued for a couple innings before the knee started to swell and he asked out in favor of pinch hitter Rick Ankiel.
On the tougher side, the Cardinals are in the midst of the toughest part of their remaining schedule with a nine-game homestand against teams that all have a winning record. But this is a good thing. The Birds need to keep pushing to the finish line, so it's good to see the Braves, Marlins and Cubs for a while instead of the Pirates, Nationals or another team that has officially packed it in for the season.
All three teams have seen their hopes for the wild card fade in the last couple of weeks. But they have much better pitching than the Cardinals have consistently seen lately. And that's something the Redbirds need to be ready for in the playoffs.
Joel Pineiro (14-9, 3.28) will take the hill in the first game against Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens (10-10, 2.93.) Jurrjens is a tough customer. He allowed two runs on six hits over six innings the last time he faced St. Louis. The Cardinals should hope Holliday is ready to go after a day and a half off, he is a .600 career hitter against the Braves starter.
Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro pitches for St. Louis on Friday, the first contest of a nine-game home stand during which the Cardinals hope to clinch the NL Central division crown. AP Photo.
In game two, Kyle Lohse (5-8, 4.62) will make his first start since returning from his latest stint on the disabled list. He'll face Atlanta's Tim Hudson (1-0, 2.19) who is just back from missing nearly the entire season following Tommy John surgery.
Chris Carpenter (16-3, 2.16) will take on Atlanta on Sunday. Javier Vazquez will (12-9, 3.06) will start for the Braves.