ST. LOUIS – Move over Yankees and Red Sox. ESPN, put your coastal biases aside. It’s time for baseball’s best division rivalry.

 

The Chicago Cubs invade St. Louis tonight for the first of a three-game series, and the timing could not be better.

 

Everyone is expecting big things from the Cubs this season, while the Cardinals are being dubbed Major League Baseball’s “biggest surprise.” Tied for the NL Central lead, the Brewers beat the northsiders in a 4-3 come-from-behind win Thursday to give the Cards a half game lead heading into this weekend’s  series, and send Sweet Lou into his first tirade of the season.

 

No doubt, it was his own coaching mistakes that led to the outburst in his post-game press conference that lasted just over one minute. Cardinal fans can only hope that the once red hot Cubs and their skipper take their frustration into Busch Stadium and continue their fall. The Cardinals are 12-6 at home this season and the Cubs are an uneasy 6-5 on the road.

 

While the Cardinals have remained fairly consistent in their fast start, the Cubs have been somewhat sporadic. They could plate 14 runs and could just as easily be shutout. That is why this weekend’s series will ultimately come down to pitching. And so far, the stats are eerily similar:

 

 

 

Team

 

W

 

L

 

ERA

 

G

 

CG

 

SHO

 

SV

 

SVO

 

IP

 

H

 

R

 

ER

 

HR

 

HBP

 

BB

SO

St. Louis

18

11

3.41

29

1

2

12

17

261.1

238

104

99

21

7

80

175

Chicago

17

11

3.96

28

0

1

8

14

259.1

239

124

114

26

13

99

193

 

 

One stat that has Cubs fans worried is saves. The closer role, primarily taken by unproven reliever Kerry Wood has so far blown three saves. Jason Isringhausen has had his own struggles early on, but is 9-for-11 in save opportunities, and currently ranks third in the Majors.

 

But first things first…the starters.

 

Game 1 features Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (3-1) and Cubs lefty Rich Hill (1-0). Hill hasn’t seen game time since April 23 at Colorado where he gave up 2 runs, on three hits, four walks and struck out three in five innings, and received a no decision. Wainwright won his last outing against the Astros going the distance allowing 2 earned runs on five hits and two free passes. He also struck out six in the game.

 

You have to think St. Louis has the edge in this matchup, but if the Cubs bats get hot like they have been, it could make for an interesting series.

 

 

 

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