If history repeats itself, as it has a habit of doing so, then the road to a return to the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals runs through Atlanta.
The Braves have won 10 consecutive National League Eastern Division Championships, and 13 of the last 14. They are looking for another World Championship, having not won one since 1995 and for that matter, their last National League title was way back in 1999. So another frustrating post season is not in Atlanta's plans for 2005, hence get ready for a battle.
Tonight it's the St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta to take on the perennial National Eastern Division Champions, with their Tog Guns going to the mound, in the first game of a three game set.
It's almost like brother against brother, with Hudson facing Mulder in what can be best describe as the beginning of a Civil War, between the perhaps the two best franchises in the history of the National League.
Teammates for the last five years Hudson and Mulder were two thirds of the famous Oakland A's, Big Three rotation, that included former teammate Barry Zito. It's been just a little more than four months since they were all split up by the off season trades.
These ex-Oakland teammates are like brothers, corresponding daily by e-mail and making side bets on tonight's game. But don't let those friendly gestures and smiling faces fool you, come game time, the war is on.
During this series there will be no prisoners taken and it will be highly unlikely that any white flags will be waving over Atlanta at the end of this first three game battles of the season.
The Cardinals being swept in four games last season in the World Series by Boston and the Braves failing to make it to the October classic for the 9th year in a row, led to Hudson being traded to Atlanta and Mulder being traded to St. Louis, for one reason, and one reason only, and that is to bring one of these great franchises another World Championship.
Coming into tonight's game both pitchers have lived up to the promise and all the off season hype that led to their departure from Oakland.
Mulder is 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA after pitching a 10-inning shutout to beat Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros 1-0 Saturday. He was picked as the NL Player of the Week.
Hudson also has been as good as promised, going 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in his first four starts with the Braves.
The Cardinals are currently ranked by most power rankings as the #1 team in the major leagues today, thanks to a very hot start out of the box.
The Cardinals are off to a 14-5 start and the last time the Cardinals began a season with 14 wins in their first 19 games was 1968 when they also started 14-5, a season which took the club to the World Series.
The Redbirds have won 11 of their last 12,
including a 5-0 record on their last road trip, before a 6-2 record in their home stand against the struggling Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. They face a much stiffer challange this weekend on the road in Atlanta.
The Braves will be defending their home turf at Turner Field and look to improve upon their 13-9 record. Atlanta's 13 wins leads the NL East, and puts them in a tie for first place with with the 12-8 Florida Marlins.
Tonight's game could be a preview of things to come in the National League Championship Series,
don't miss this one.
Game time is 6:35 CDT and the game will be televised on the Fox Sports Net-Midwest network.
Fri., April 29 at BRAVES: Mark Mulder (2-1, 3.10) vs. Tim Hudson (2-0, 0.96) 6:35 p.m.*
Sat., April 30 at BRAVES: Matt Morris (2-0, 2.45) vs. John Thompson (2-2, 3.12) 6:05 p.m.#
Sun., May 1 at BRAVES: Jeff Suppan (2-2, 3.42) vs. John Smoltz (0-3, 4.30) 12:05 p.m.#
Mon., May 2 at REDS: Chris Carpenter (4-1, 4.01) vs. Eric Milton (2-2, 6.75) 6:10 p.m.*%
Tues., May 3 at REDS: Jason Marquis (3-0, 2.77+) vs. Aaron Harang (1-1, 4.30+) 6:10 p.m.*
Wed., May 4 at REDS: Mark Mulder (2-1, 3.10+) vs. Brandon Claussen (1-1, 2.61+) 6:10 p.m.*%
Times listed are Central.
All games broadcast on KMOX Radio
# WB11-TV * Fox Sports-Net/Midwest + FOX Network % ESPN @ESPN2