Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

The Cardinals extended their winning streak to five games with an 8-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds, in game two of the final three-game set at Busch Stadium and the season. They have a chance to close out the 2008 season with 86 wins, a very impressive accomplishment for a team that had to deal with a lot of adversity throughout the entire season.

The five-game winning streak for St. Louis matches a season high. The Cardinals also had a five-game winning streak from July 13-20.

Starter Todd Wellemeyer gave up three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out three over 6 1/3 innings, to improve to 13-9 on the season and halting a slide of three straight losses. Troy Glaus, Albert Pujols and Felipe Lopez all hit home runs while Adam Kennedy doubled and scored twice for St. Louis, giving the Cardinals a chance to close out the 2008 campaign with a six game winning streak.

Kyle Lohse will make his team-high 34th start of the season Sunday, in the Cardinals final game of the season. Lohse has won each of his last two starts, including a 7-4 win vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks last Tuesday. The right-hander has allowed three runs or less in his last seven starts (2-1, 3.27 ERA). He makes his 3rd start this season against Cincinnati and 4th of his career, posting a record of 1-1, with a 3.55 ERA against the Reds this season. Looking for his 16th win of the season, Lohse is 8-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts at Busch Stadium this season.

The Cardinals have a chance to finish the season 10 games above the .500 mark with an 86-76 won-loss record, if they can complete a three game sweep against the Reds. A remarkable accomplishment, considering the Cardinals weren't expected to be competitive this season. Historically, 86 wins in the National League Central Division, would be enough for a team to make it into the postseason. The Chicago Cubs won only 85 games in 2007 to claim a division title, while the Cardinals won only 83 games in their 2006 World Championship season.

The Cardinals will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year, but they have made significant strides this season after finishing last season with a 78-84 record, their first losing season since 1999.

Regardless of what happens at Busch Stadium today, this team deserves the respect and admiration of Cardinal fans everywhere.

NOTES AND QUOTES:

… St. Louis has won nine of the 14 matchups between these NL Central foes this season. The Cardinals took two of three from Cincinnati in the Reds' other visit to Busch Stadium this year.

... Inside the Numbers #37, Albert Pujols' blast Saturday night was his 37th homer of the season.

... Todd Wellemeyer, a starter just 11 times in 135 big-league appearances entering 2008, Wellemeyer made 32 starts this season en route to a career-best 13 wins.

… Albert Pujols is aiming to lead the team in batting for an 8th-straight season this year, something no other Cardinal has ever done. Stan Musial (1946-52) and Rogers Hornsby (1919-25) each did so in 7-straight seasons.

… The Cardinals announced Saturday, Memphis' Jess Todd is the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year, while Springfield's outfielder Daryl Jones picks up the organizational Player of the Year honors for 2008.

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