After taking two of three from the American League West cellar dwelling Mariners, the Cardinals now welcome the division's third place team, Oakland, to town for a three-game set.
It's good to see these heated longtime rivalries rekindled by interleague play. I'm sure lots of people are eager to re-live the Cardinals 1930 and 1931 World Series tilts against the Athletics. (Ahem.) Alright, I admit it, I'm a little bit bitter about the fact that we see the same retreads coming through town on the interleague bandwagon. Oakland was just here a couple of years ago, which I believe was their third trip to town since this whole mess started. But I shouldn't complain, we did get to have a road trip to Detroit three years in a row...
Anyway, Oakland is 33-35, six games behind the division leader. They've lost seven of their last 10 games and are a terrible 12-22 on the road.
Playing first base for the Athletics is former Cardinals farmhands Daric Barton who was part of the swap that sent Dan Haren to Oakland for Mark Mulder. Barton, a muscled slugger, oddly leads the American League in sacrifice hits with nine because he strangely has decided to become a bunting machine. From his spot in the middle of the order, he has dropped nine bunts with a runner on second base and no one out. I'm not sure if it's some sort of confidence problem with his ability to drive in runs or if Barton secretly wants to revive the deadball era. He's hitting .283 with four homers and 24 RBIs thanks to his efforts to take the bat out of his own hands.
Chris Carpenter, (7-1, 2.66) takes the hill in the opener as the Cardinals move to a four-man rotation for at least the next week and a half. Vin Mazzaro (2-1, 4.81) will counter for Oakland. Carpenter has pitched very well lately but has nothing to show for it as the Birds' bats have given him no run support in his last two outings. Hopefully some home cooking, which seems to fuel the bats better than hotel fare, will do the trick to getting Carp some support. The 23-year-old righty Mazzaro has been pitching out of the bullpen with little success. He's surrendered 31 hits and 10 walks in 19 1/3 innings. In that span he's given up six homers. Hopefully, the Cardinals have some tape on Mazzaro, who made 17 starts last year.
Adam Wainwright (9-4, 2.41) will face longtime National League Central foe Ben Sheets (2-6, 4.93) in the middle game. Sheets is 6-14 lifetime against the Redbirds with a 4.05 ERA compiled during his days with Milwaukee. Wainwright is undefeated in six decisions at home this season.
Another former Milwaukee pitcher will start the finale on Sunday. Jeff Suppan will make his second appearance in the Cardinals rotation against an Oakland hurler who is yet to be named. Suppan stunk it up for the Brew Crew, but was decent in his first outing in St. Louis Tuesday. He gave up only one run in a four-inning start against Seattle. Suppan was working out of the bullpen in Milwaukee prior to being sidelined for a week and a half when he was released. That probably explains both the brevity of his outing and the rustiness of his control.