May 22, 2012; St. Louis, MO. USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) celebrates with catcher Yadier Molina (4) after throwing a complete game shutout against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated San Diego 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
By Harry Stephenson
(The Cardinal Nation Show) -- The Cardinals travel to New York to battle the Mets in a four game series. Wainwright will be the starting pitcher Friday night, squaring off against Johan Santana.
Wainwright, whose record is 4-5 (a weak 0-3 in April, and 4-2 in May with 3.00 ERA for the month), will have to summon all of his power if he is going to outpitch Santana and pull the Cards through to a victory. Wainwright's last game resulted in seven hits in six innings, with 58 of his 87 pitches being strikes (leading to two strike-outs), and no walks, leaving his overall ERA at 4.45.
Fortunately, the 31-year-old pitcher, coming off of his most impressive back-to-back season starts, has found more success away than at home-his splits being 5.77 ERA at Busch Stadium, and 2.59 ERA away-so the Cardinal's pitching lay in his hands (so long as Westbrook-with an 8.10 ERA for his four most recent starts-and his sinker, continue to fall short of expectation).
The Mets' starting pitcher, Johan Santana, boasts a much more successful season: claiming a 2.75 ERA (a 1.60 home ERA), and coming off a 9-0 shut-out against the Padres in which he had seven strike-outs and no walks from his 96 pitches. Santana could be a major roadblock in the Cardinals' path to victory if he continues his successful pitching streak.
The Cardinals, however, have several heavy hitters, so the game will prove challenging for both teams.
Fortunately, the Redbirds have a few more cards up their sleeve, as Matt Adams and Yadier Molina could prove to be linchpins of both the offensive and defensive lineups. Adams, who made his Major League debut this month, is already averaging .317 (.320 home, .313 away) and has 13 hits, 5 runs, 5 RBIs, and a homerun to show for his 41 at-bats in 11 games.
The 23-year-old rookie may not be filling the large shoes left behind by former first-baseman Albert Pujols just yet, but the promising young first-baseman has broken into the Majors with immediate success, alleviating some of the depth problems that plague the Cardinals as 11 players remain on the DL-including four of the eight season-opening starters.
Yadier Molina, one of the few remaining veterans on the team, could make all the different against the Mets as he continues on what may be his best Major League season.
The Cards' catcher has had 174 at-bats in 46 games, resulting in 58 hits, 26 runs, 32 RBIs and 8 homeruns. The three-time All Star player and two-time World Series champion is averaging .333 this season-having met his 4-hits-per-game career high 12 times this season-and if he continues on his streak, Yadi will certainly surpass his previous career performances (already putting up around half of 2011's 14 homeruns and 65 RBIs just two months into the season).
Molina, whose .280 away average is overshadowed by his .395 home average, will need to bring his home-field success to New York if the Cardinals are going to triumph the Mets-who, being in the NL East, could prove problematic considering the Cards' 3-8 record against NL East teams.