:: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 ::

Bring on the Astros
So the St. Louis Cardinals will take on our old NL Central nemesis, the Houston Astros, in the NL League Championships. The first game is Wednesday in St. Louis.

The Cardinals can take the 'stros, but a few things need to happen:

1. Scott Rolen needs to start hitting. Unless LaRussa shuffles the lineup and moves Rolen out of the cleanup spot, the Cards' third baseman needs to become a threat behind No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols. Otherwise, the Astros will pitch around Pujols to face Rolen.

2. Jim Edmonds needs to make contact. It'd be nice if he got streaky in the positive way, too. But the strikeouts hurt.

3. The starters need to shine. Woody Williams will start Game 1. Matt Morris, who pitched well in his loss in Saturday's game against the Dodgers, needs to pitch well again. Jason Marquis especially needs to give a good five innings. LaRussa might consider starting Danny Haren in Marquis' place.

4. The bottom of the order needs to continue to surprise. When the murderer's row of Walker, Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds are down, the six, seven and eight hitters seem to come through. Edgar Renteria is solid in the No. 5 or No. 6 spot. If Reggie Sanders and Mike Matheny continue to get key hits, then we'll be in great shape.

5. The Cardinals have to take advantage of the home field advantage. The Astros won't start Roger Clemons or Oswalt until games 3 and 4 in Houston, so the Redbirds need to knock out the Astros' starting pitching early and start to wear down an already suspect bullpen.

More analysis over at Redbird Nation.

:: Andrew 08:40 + ::

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