the Washington Nationals open a three-game series with the Cardinals beginning
Friday in St. Louis, there is a good chance that, in an oddity, both teams will
be celebrating before the weekend is over, perhaps even on the same
The Nationals already are in the
playoffs for the first time but have not clinched the National League East title
yet. The Cardinals are likely to be the second wild-card team but have not
clinched that yet. And, depending on how their pursuers do in each category,
there is a possibility that both could clinch respective berths in the same
game, no matter who wins.
As defending World Series champions,
the Cardinals' veterans have discussed how to celebrate the much more modest
achievement of winning the second wild card. The Atlanta Braves, celebrating at
least a wild-card berth, marked the moment with a raucous champagne
But Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright said, "No disrespect to what they did, but I think we're going to
save the big pop for after we beat Atlanta."
There was a school of thought that
there should be something for the very few young players who did not get to
partake in last year's celebrations.
Manager Mike Matheny said, "You can't
take one day of this game for granted, let alone getting to the postseason. It's
a big deal. For many, it's the first time; for some it's the last. To take it
lightly would be a mistake."
But Matheny also cautioned not to look
too far ahead.
"We're playing well," Matheny said.
"If we start getting our minds somewhere other than what's been effective for
us, that's not good."
RHP Kyle Lohse, expected
to start the wild-card game Oct. 5 if the Cardinals are playing in it, is
scheduled to make his final regular-season start on Saturday against Washington. If Lohse wins
and hikes his record to 17-3, it will be the highest percentage for any starter
with that many wins in Cardinals history. RHP Chris Carpenter was 17-4 in
RF Carlos Beltran,
3-for-20 on the trip, probably will be back in the lineup after getting a start
off on Wednesday in Houston. Beltran has been receiving periodic
breaks as manager Mike Matheny tries to help regenerate Beltran into the
dominant player he was in the first half of the season. "Right now, he's really
struggling and fighting," said Matheny. "It's hard for him not to be able to do
what he's capable of doing."
3B David Freese, one game
shy of his first 140-game season in the majors, should be able to reach that
plateau sometime this weekend. Freese, who sprained his right ankle in a freak
accident in the indoor batting cage in Houston on
Monday, hopes to play by the end of the three-game Washington series in St. Louis.
RHP Adam Wainwright, who
has no wins in September after going 5-1 in August, will seek to go over .500
for the season (he is 13-13) when he faces Washington on Friday night in St.
Louis. Wainwright hasn't won in his last five starts.
SS Pete Kozma, who
apparently will be the Cardinals' shortstop the rest of the regular season and
into the postseason, had one of his few poor games on Wednesday night,
committing his second error in two games and fanning three times in a row,
including once when he failed to bunt in the eighth
28-17 - Cardinals' record
in games started by left-handers. They will face Washington southpaw John Lannan on
Quote to Note:
"We have the ability, no
question about it. We have a lineup that's fantastic. We have a bullpen that's
been great. Our starting pitching has been pitching well. We just need to start
putting everything together."
- RHP Chris Carpenter, on
the state of the Cardinals.
RHP Jake Westbrook
(strained right oblique) was injured Sept. 8, and he probably is out for the
rest of the regular season. He encountered discomfort in a bullpen session Sept.
22 in Chicago
and had to stop throwing.
1B Lance Berkman (sore
right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14 and was thought to be out for
the season, but he said he still wants to try to play.
SS Rafael Furcal (torn
ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is
out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich
plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the
knife, but as of Sept. 19 he still hadn't been able to do any baseball
RHP Kyle McClellan (torn
labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a
strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He
threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt
shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July