Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

Sunday the Cardinals are going send 13-game winner, Kyle Lohse to the mound to try something that they have done only twice this season and that is to win five straight games.

Starting the day, two games back of the Milwaukee Brewers and seven and a half games back of Chicago, barring a Chicago disaster of Biblical proportions, the Cardinals will have to try to make it into the postseason through the wild-card door.

Staring at a 22-31 record and a 7.5-game deficit in the N.L. Central at the start of play June 3, 2007, the Cubs last year went 63-46 in their final 109 games starting June 3 to win the National League Central. The Cubs have the best record in the majors in the last 14-plus months starting June 3, 2007 and they don't show any signs of fading away in September as they have in the past.

The Brewers another team that you can traditionally count on falling back in the standings as the seasons begin to change, can boast the best record in the division in August with 11 wins, including a dramatic 4-3 comeback win over the Dodgers Saturday night. The Brewers have a 27-15 combined record for the month of July and August, compared to the 22-20 record of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals with three games less than the Cubs to play in the regular season, two games less than the Brewers, have their job cut out for them despite, being behind just 2.0 games of the Brewers in the Wild Card race. The Brewers and the Cubs have just come off of eight game winning streaks, the kind of a winning streak that has eluded the Cardinals this season and the kind they will need if they want to play baseball in St. Louis in October.

While it's a long way from being over, with the Cardinals offense clicking and with the return of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter looming, a big win today to make it five straight, will give the Cardinals a good chance to put together the kind of streak that could help close the two-game gap between them and the Brewers and make Monday morning's coffee taste a lot better than usual.

CARDINALS 9, REDS 3

Saturday night the Cardinals hit four home runs en-route to a 9-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. With the win, St. Louis improved to 6-3 on its 10-game road trip and 6-2 against the Reds, including 4-1 at Cincinnati.

Joel Pineiro picked up his third win of the month and remained unbeaten in his career against the Reds. Pineiro scattered seven hits over six full innings, giving up just three runs to improve to 6-5 on the season. Pineiro's job in the rotation was in jeopardy in July, but based on his last three starts, posting a 3-0 record with a 3.60 ERA, Pineiro will remain in the rotation for now.

The offense was hitting on all eight cylinders Saturday night with Albert Pujols hitting a pair of solo home runs, while Skip Schumaker drilled a three-run dinger and Ryan Ludwick connected on a two-run shot, his team leading 31st home run on the year.

The Cardinals offense along with the long ball has come alive of late as Matthew Leach pointed out in his post game report on MLB.com, "Over their last 19 games, the Cardinals have scored 108 runs, more than 5.6 per game. They've hit 26 homers in that span, including seven games in which they've hit at least two."

The Cardinals have two games left with Milwaukee and six with the Cubs, they'll need to be playing their best baseball in these two series, if they have any hopes of playing in the postseason.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Brian Barton, the Cardinals activated Barton (fractured hand) before Friday's game against the Reds. Barton pinch-hit in the game, grounding out and didn't appear in Saturday's blowout against the Reds. With Rick Ankiel closer to being at full strength, the opportunities for Barton to play will be limited.

…Ryan Ludwick, on Thursday became just the 17th Cardinal all-time to hit 30 home runs in a single season and he's only the 6th M.L. player to do so this season. Ludwick is a strong contender to become the 10th Cardinal to meet the season milestone of .300 BA, 30 homers and 100 RBI.

Kyle Lohse, makes his team-leading 27th start on the season today. Lohse has won 10 of his last 13 decisions, however he's 1-3 in his last four starts.

…Bullpen, Cards relievers lead the Majors in Holds (89)

Josh Kinney, the 2006 World Series star is expected to begin rehab assignment soon after having Tommy John surgery and another surgery for a fracture on the same arm (elbow).

...FYI, Chris Perez is the Cardinals' closer, but you didn't hear it from me.

 

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