The two teams haven’t played each other since that horrible series in Chicago in June 2006. In case you’ve forgotten, here are a few details to cause flashbacks: Mark Mulder and losing 20-6, Jason Marquis being a sacrificial lamb and giving up all the runs in a 13-4 loss, Jim Edmonds crashing into the center field wall and getting a concussion, Anthony Reyes allowing only one hit in a complete game … and losing 1-0 since it was a homer to Jim Thome. Yep. Sweep.
Ugh. Sorry to ruin your morning.
Here’s something positive: the Cardinals actually lead the all-time series against the Sox 10-8. The two teams played every year from 1997 to 2001 then didn’t meet again until 2006. (How are these interleague schedules created anyway?)
To help prepare us for these next three games, here’s a scouting report from Cheryl Norman of South Side Hit Girl, the Aerys White Sox site.
It might be a great thing the White Sox are in the AL Central. No one in the division has decided it is necessary to just take control of the division. Yes, the White Sox are in first place, but not because they’ve been tearing it up.
For them, being in first place has had a lot to do with the Indians and Tigers not playing well while the Sox are scuffling as well. Most noticeable is the inability to win at home (the team still has a losing record in the home ballpark) as well as having some terrible starting pitching of late.
Philip Humber and Gavin Floyd have both been driving fans nuts lately. They have shown flashes of brilliance this season but, more often than not, they have brought their worst out in each game of late. Gavin most recently has been giving up runs in just about every inning he pitches. Philip has been giving up long balls at an alarming rate.
The other thing that is troublesome about both is that they haven’t gone very deep in games either. While the bullpen has been pretty good for the most part, having to go to them time and time again gets worrisome when looking ahead to the dog days of summer in August and September. If Gavin and Philip don’t get it together, it could spell the end of any playoff hopes for the White Sox.
Meanwhile, the hitting has actually been pretty good. All of the guys who were complete disasters at the plate last season — Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham and Alex Rios — have been helping the team. Dunn now has 20 home runs on the season and far exceeded his output of last season. Additionally, he has also been walking a ton. More importantly, he has also gone deep in the count so even if he does strike out, he has usually made the opposing pitcher do it on a full count.
Beckham and Rios have been at times swung a hot bat as well. With those two contributing, it definitely takes some pressure off of guys who are always producing such as Paul Konerko and, at times, AJ Pierzynski. Fans are still waiting for Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo to really heat things up, but with the weather getting warmer, it should only be a matter of time.
On the injury front, John Danks has been out with shoulder soreness and is scheduled to make a rehab start this week. Brent Morel, the third baseman at the start of the season, is on the disabled list with low back problems. He recently suffered a setback and when he returns is up in the air. Fortunately, after the Sox picked up Orlando Hudson, they’ve been OK at third base defensively and the output offensively from third base has increased dramatically. Granted, it was pretty pathetic before his arrival.
In this series, I am expecting that it will probably be a hard fought 2-1 contest in the number of games won. Who wins the two games remains to be seen, but I would probably put money on the Sox. They’ve played great baseball on the road and perhaps just need to get away from home to start a new winning streak.
It’s hard to know what to expect out of the Cardinals against the Sox, isn’t it? I can see Cheryl’s prediction of the Sox taking two games very easily happening — especially with Jake Westbrook starting on Thursday — yet the Sox just lost two of three to the Astros, and we know what the Cards did against them last week.
Guess that’s why they play the games …
And those games begin tonight at 7:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium, with Adam Wainwright and Jose Quintana starting.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.