Though it’s been a foregone conclusion for a long time now, the St. Louis Cardinals know for a fact they’ll be in the playoffs.
After clinching the NL Central title, the Cardinals will shoot for a three-game sweep of the major league-worst Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis, which owns the majors’ best record at 97-50, became the first team to earn a playoff spot with Saturday’s 7-0 victory over the hapless Diamondbacks. They officially clinched the Central when the second-place Chicago Cubs suffered a 6-5 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday.
The Cardinals have won three of the last five Central titles, but are more concerned with continuing their strong play as the postseason approaches. St. Louis hasn’t won the World Series since 1982.
“I don’t really care about the magic number. The thing is, when we get to the playoffs, it’s a different world. Getting there and getting sharp is the most important thing,” Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack said
Jeff Suppan will try to bounce back from one of his worst outings of the season for St. Louis.
The veteran right-hander had his six-game win streak snapped in Tuesday’s 7-5 loss to Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium. Suppan lasted 3 2-3 innings, allowing seven runs—only two earned—and 10 hits, with five of the runs coming in the fifth inning.
“The bottom line is I have to get out of the inning,” Suppan said. “If I was able to do that I think it would have been a different outcome with the way we fought back.”
It was the second-shortest outing of the season for Suppan, who is 9-0 with a 3.17 ERA on the road, but 6-7 at home with a 4.66 ERA.
In Saturday’s win, Cards starter Chris Carpenter left in the fourth inning with a strained right biceps.
Carpenter is expected to miss only one start, partly because he didn’t try to gut it out. Carpenter has become St. Louis’ ace after missing all of last season following a pair of elbow operations. He has pitched seven or more innings in 16 starts this year.
“It’s probably a strain, kind of like pulling a hamstring. We’re just going to wait 24 hours and see how it feels tomorrow. I don’t think it’s serious,” Carpenter said. “I have never felt anything like it before.”
Casey Fossum lasted six innings and allowed four runs—three earned—and six hits for Arizona, which has lost nine in a row on the road.
“I did the best I could and kept the game close,” Fossum said. “We just couldn’t manufacture anything offensively.”