Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/25/09

The Cardinals return home holding an eight-game lead with 36 games to go and a magic number of 31.



The Cardinals' magic number for wrapping up the National League Central title stands at 31 as they prepare to open a nine-game homestand Tuesday night against the Astros.


They play 21 of their final 36 games at home and 24 of their final 36 against teams with losing records.


The teams the Cardinals will play on this homestand—Houston, Washington and Milwaukee—all have losing records. Milwaukee, however, has won nine of its last 10 games at Busch Stadium over the last two seasons.


With five off days remaining—one each in the season's final five weeks—the Cardinals can mold their rotation to give their three aces (Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Joel Pineiro) as many starts as possible. Each could get eight starts the rest of the way.


The only winning teams the Cardinals will play the rest of the way are Atlanta, Florida and Chicago—all on the same September homestand—and three at Colorado on the next-to-last weekend of the season.




• The Cardinals are 7-0-1 in their last eight series, with the only mild blemish a split of a two-game set in New York earlier this month. They haven't suffered consecutive losses since July 25-26 in Philadelphia.


• To say that the Cardinals have taken advantage of the lesser teams is more than fair assessment. They are just 23-22 against teams over .500 and 49-32 against teams under .500.


• The Cardinals are above .500 against all four divisions they have played. Against the National League East, they're 13-11. Against the Central, they're 32-24, against the NL West they're 18-13 and against the American League Central in inter-league play they were 9-6.


• Manager Tony La Russa, having taken out RHP Chris Carpenter after seven innings on Saturday even though Carpenter was throwing a shutout, said that Carpenter would be able to come back on Thursday at home in the final game of a three-game set with Houston. "We got him out at the right time," said La Russa.


• The Cardinals, who had trouble getting to 10 games over .500 for the last several months, are 10 games over .500 in August alone. They have won 15 of 20 games for the month and are a season-high 18 games over .500 now.


• The Cardinals have only 36 games remaining, 21 at home and just 15 on the road. They have been fairly consistent this season. They've won 36 games both at home and on the road, although they've lost 24 at home and 30 away from Busch.


By The Numbers:   4—The number of times 1B Albert Pujols has struck out three times in succession in a game in his nine-season career.


Quote To Note:   "He's a complete pitcher with a great head on his shoulders."—San Diego manager Bud Black, on Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter.




• RHP Adam Wainwright, who will face Houston on Tuesday night in St. Louis, has worked 24 consecutive games of six innings or more, the longest such streak in the majors. Wainwright will get his second crack at becoming the league's first 15-game winner.


• RHP John Smoltz, dazzling in his first start on Sunday in San Diego, next will start against Washington on Friday at home.


• RHP Mitchell Boggs, up and down between the Cardinals and Class AAA Memphis this year, is in line for Saturday's start against the Nationals.


Medical Watch: 


LHP Kyle Lohse (strained groin) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 22 after leaving the Aug. 21 game with the injury.


RHP Todd Wellemeyer (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 5.


3B Troy Glaus (right shoulder surgery in January 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He began a minor league rehab assignment July 11. He was shut down in late July because of recurring back pain. He started a new rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on Aug. 15.


LHP Jaime Garcia (Tommy John elbow surgery in September 2008) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He began a rehab assignment in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League on July 23. He was removed from the disabled list on Aug. 21 and optioned to Class AAA Memphis.

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