ST. LOUIS - We've got a pretty strong pitching matchup tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, as Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright will oppose Nationals righty Tanner Roark.
If I had written that sentence back in June, you all would've thought I was drunk.
But while Roark obviously isn't on Wainwright's level, he has burst onto the scene over the last couple of months and started to turn some heads.
Roark is 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA over 41 2/3 innings this season. He's yet to allow a home run, has won all three of the games he's started and has a 0.84 WHIP.
Wainwright is 17-9 with a 2.98 ERA this season. He faced the Nats back on April 23, and held them to just five hits over 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a 2-0 Cardinals win.
As you may or may not be able to tell from the iPhone picture at right, the outfield here at Busch Stadium looks to be in pretty bad shape after a college football game was played here 48 hours ago.
The much-anticipated Southeast Missouri-Southern Illinois game was played before a huge crowd of 14,618 (sarcasm alert), leaving the grounds crew needing to re-sod the outfield prior to the Cardinals returning to town.
You can still see the painted yard lines in spots and the end zone markings in left field are clearly visible, but more importantly, the sod looks to be a little patchy. You hope that doesn't in any way affect the three games between the Nats and Cardinals this week.
I'm not sure why the Cardinals would agree to a college football game being played on their field during what they surely felt would be a pennant race, but that's a discussion for another day.
The Cardinals will have a shot to clinch the National League Central during this series. Their magic number stands at five, so if they take two of three from the Nats or sweep this three-game set, we could see a celebration at Busch Stadium, if the Reds and Pirates falter.
The Nats, meanwhile, could be eliminated from the playoff picture tonight if they lose and the Reds and Pirates both win.
Update: Matt Holliday has been scratched from the Cardinals' lineup, presumably due to a back injury which has bothered him lately.
Below is the updated Cardinals lineup.
For the Nats
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Anthony Rendon
RHP Tanner Roark
For the Cardinals
2B Matt Carpenter
CF Jon Jay
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
3B David Freese
SS Daniel Descalso
LF Shane Robinson
RHP Adam Wainwright