Game Day Preview with Ray Mileur - 04/18

Did you have a nice weekend?

The Cardinals did, after falling below .500 to start the season, the Cardinals went to Milwaukee for a three game series and came away with a sweep and to move above .500 and take over sole position of first place of the National League Central Division.

It's where Cardinal fans expect the Redbirds to stay.

It's the next two games in Pittsburgh at PNC park that may give an indication to how far the Cardinals will go this season.

The (6-4) St. Louis Cardinals will invade PNC Park in Pittsburgh to take on the (4-8) Pirates. A perfect opportunity for pitcher Mark Mulder and Matt Morris to get on track and get a win under their belts.

Tonight at 6:05 pm CDT, the Cardinals will send their struggling (Staff Ace?) Mark Mulder to the mound for the third time this season. Mulder, who is searching for his first National League win, lost his last start on Wednesday when he allowed six runs and 11 hits in five innings in a 6-5 loss to Cincinnati.

``At certain times with two outs, I made some bad pitches over the middle of the plate,'' Mulder said. ``It's not something I'm thinking about when I'm out there but it happened both times today. You've got to execute a little better and make better pitches.''

Mulder is 0-5 with an 8.62 ERA over his last eight starts dating to last season. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.

After Mulder's start on Monday night, it will be Matt Morris taking the mound on Tuesday.

For Morris, the Cardinals #5 starter, he will be making his first start of the season, after making two rehab starts for Palm Beach, the Cardinals High A, farm club.

In his last outing Morris threw 85 pitches last Wednesday, allowing eight hits and five earned runs, but he did manage to strike out six with just one walk.

Somehow this outing has been spinned as another positive performance. Perhaps it is.

In his is previous rehab start Morris allowed two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts in four innings for Single-A Palm Beach, all the K's drawing the attention of many fans, looking for Morris to regain the form that once made him a staff ace.

WHO's HOT - Scott Rolen is 6-for-9 over his last two games after being in a 2-for-19 slump to start the season. St. Louis completed a three-game sweep of Milwaukee with a 3-2 victory on Sunday, on the back of Scott Rolen, who snapped a tie with a solo homer in the ninth inning.

WHO's NOT - Yadier Molina, I hate to keep putting the young catcher in this spot, but Molina is hitting .034 with just one hit in 29 at bats.

COMING UP

The two games in Pittsburgh will close out a five-game road trip for St. Louis.

On Wednesday the Cards will be home to take on the Chicago Cubs for two games, followed by a weekend series at home against the Houston Astros.

The Cardinals have an excellent opportunity to put some distance between themselves and their central division rivals this week. We'll see.

Cardinal Nation will be looking at the Redbirds this week to see if their hopes for a return to another World Series, is warranted.


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