The right-hander, though, has a chance to delay a division rival’s celebration by beating the Chicago Cubs in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
A loss by the Cardinals (79-75) could eventually lead to their third postseason absence in four years. Cincinnati needs that defeat and a win later that afternoon in San Diego to clinch its first NL Central title since 1995.
“You can’t stop dreaming and thinking it’s over, because it isn’t,” manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals’ official website. “You might as well believe in the dream as long as you can.”
St. Louis had hoped its postseason chances weren’t going to be just a dream when it got Westbrook from Cleveland in a three-team swap July 31.
“I’m excited to go to a club contending for a playoff spot and pitch in some meaningful ballgames,” Westbrook said.
However, Westbrook will likely not play many more meaningful games this year in part because the Cardinals lost in seven of his 10 starts. He is 2-4 with a 3.77 ERA over that span.
Westbrook struggled during Tuesday’s 5-2 defeat to last-place Pittsburgh, giving up three runs during a 41-pitch first inning before being pulled after the fourth.
Westbrook pitched well in his only start against the Cubs, a 6-3 home win Aug. 13. In his first victory with St. Louis, he allowed two runs and six hits over six innings.
Chicago’s scheduled starter, Jeff Samardzija(notes) (2-1, 6.00), also won his first start against St. Louis on Sept. 13 and his first as a starter by tossing 5 2-3 scoreless innings in a 5-1 road victory. He followed with another victory in a 13-3 rout of Florida on Sept. 19.
Samardzija allowed three runs over six innings in that game and gave credit to his teammates, some of whom played with him at Triple-A Iowa, for his two strong outings since being called up Sept. 7.
“Those guys have always played well behind me,” Samardzija told the team’s official website. “I had a good idea about what they could do. And I was right.”
Samardzija witnessed a scary injury during his previous start when teammate Tyler Colvin(notes) was hospitalized after his chest was punctured by a piece of Welington Castillo’s(notes) shattered bat. In the Cubs’ 7-3 win Saturday, Cardinals reliever Blake Hawksworth(notes) was hit in the face by Sam Fuld’s(notes) line drive.
Hawksworth eventually walked off and was taken to a hospital for treatment. His status is not immediately known.
The Cubs (70-84), who lead the season series 9-5, are trying to record at least 10 wins against their rivals for the fourth time in six years.