Game Day Preview with Ray Mileur - 04/15

In the last five games the St. Louis Cardinals have gotten only one quality start from their starters. <p> The teams 5.66 ERA ranks 15 out of 16 in the National League, not what the Cardinal fans had hope for at the beginning of the season. <p> Tonight the Cardinals send Jeff Suppan to the mound to face Milwaukee's staff ace Ben Sheets, in the first of a three game series and a 13 game road trip. <p>

The (3-4)St. Louis Cardinals head to Milwaukee today to take on their Central Division rivals the (5-3) Milwaukee Brewers.

You can catch the first of a three game series tonight at 7:05 pm CDT, on FSMW, FSN.

After enjoying four off days in the first two weeks of the season, the Cardinals are scheduled to play 13 days in a row beginning Friday in Milwaukee.

All 13 games will be against National League Central Division teams -- Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Houston and Milwaukee again. The two series with Milwaukee could prove particularly interesting in that the Cardinals were only 9-8 against the Brewers last year and the Brewers seem improved

The Cardinals send Jeff Suppan, 0-1, 11.25 ERA in 2005, their road warrior from 2004 to the mound on Friday night in hopes that he can deliver a quality start, something that has become rare in St. Louis. The Cardinals just got one quality start in five games on their first homestand of the campaign.

Post game comments from the Cardinals starters telling fans how good they feel in their losses, isn't sitting well with Cardinal Nation.

Suppan will be making his second start of the season tonight, after lasting just 4.0+ innings in his first start last Saturday against the Phillies. In that game he gave up six runs (fived earned) on 10 hits and 2 walks.

Looking for some good news about Cardinal pitching? Well we had to look hard to, but for the record, Suppan has a career mark of 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA at Miller Park.

Milwaukee will send their ace Ben Sheets to the mound against the defending National League champions. Sheets may be the best pitcher in the NL Central Division.

Sheets is looking to bounce back from a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two.

Sheets has not fared well against St. Louis, going 4-8 with a 4.41 ERA in 15 career starts. He went 1-3 with 36 strikeouts and a 3.69 ERA in five starts against the Cardinals in 2004.

In spite of Sheets struggles, Milwaukee has experienced some success against the Redbirds. Milwaukee's eight wins were tied for the second most of any club against the defending National League champions last year. The Brewers and Cubs (8-11) each won eight games against St. Louis while Houston was 10-8 and the only team to have a winning record against the Cardinals.

Milwaukee continues to improve and was 36-45 at Miller Park last year, their best record at home since 2001 when they were also 36-45. They appear that they could improve on that mark this season.

St. Louis went 2-3 on its first homestand and is 3-4 overall. Last year, the Cardinals started slowly but led the major leagues with 105 victories.


ROTATION: 1. LHP Mark Mulder, 2. RHP Chris Carpenter, 3. RHP Jason Marquis, 4. RHP Jeff Suppan, 5. RHP Matt Morris

BULLPEN: RHP Jason Isringhausen (closer), LHP Ray King, RHP Julian Tavarez, RHP Jimmy Journell, RHP Al Reyes, LHP Randy Flores, LHP Carmen Cali

LINEUP: 1. SS David Eckstein, 2. RF Larry Walker, 3. 1B Albert Pujols, 4. 3B Scott Rolen, 5. CF Jim Edmonds, 6. LF Reggie Sanders, 7. 2B Mark Grudzielanek, 8. C Yadier Molina

RESERVES: INF-OF John Mabry, OF Roger Cedeno, OF So Taguchi, INF Hector Luna, INF Abraham Nunez, C Einar Diaz

MEDICAL WATCH: LF Reggie Sanders has recovered 100% from an appendectomy.

RHP Matt Morris is well ahead of schedule after offseason shoulder surgery and will join the Cardinals on this road trip.

RHP Cal Eldred will be placed on the DL today and Jimmy Journell has been recalled from AAA Memphis.

RHP Mike Lincoln is sidelined while recovering from Tommy John surgery. UTL Abraham Nunez fractured a rib in Wednesday's game and may be added to the DL, as of now he's day to day.

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