(BaseballStL) -- The Cardinals, tied for first in the wildest division race in baseball, suddenly find themselves playing an interleague matchup in mid-September.
Playing for only the tenth time in history, the Cards haven't seen the Mariners in three seasons.
"There's a lot of new names and faces and it seemed like we had to watch film a couple times to put it all together," said Mike Matheny before the game Friday.
The Mariners come to town on a bit of a slide, and despite what would seem to be a favorable matchup for the Cardinals, seeing a team from the AL West in the middle of a division race can be a rhythm breaker.
"You're competing against two teams in the Reds and the Pirates and then you're playing somebody who, is not only not in your division but in a whole other league," second baseman Matt Carpenter said in the clubhouse. "It is strange, but at the same time it's still a game and we gotta go out and play it and try to win it."
The Cardinals are 6-3 all time against Seattle, though old records mean little when teams have as much turnover as they do now. For example, here's the starting Mariner lineup the last time Wainwright started against them:
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 2B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Jose Lopez 3B
Milton Bradley LF
Josh Wilson SS
Mike Carp 1B
Rob Johnson C
Luke French P
Michael Saunders pinch hit in the game. That means only three guys who played that contest are on the field today, and one of them is now on the Cardinals.
Because there are so many new faces, it's tough for hitters to prepare for what they're facing.
"You get a comfort level when you've faced a guy over and over again, but it can have its challenges," said Carpenter. "When you've faced a guy over and over again they know how to get you out."
But Matt Adams, sporting the team's hottest bat of late, says technology has evened the playing field.
"I don't think there's any advantage. I think there's so much video in this game that both sides are going to be prepared for one another," he said.
With the Mariners playing so many games in Pacific time, Matheny said his team hasn't caught many of their contests in the club house.
"Fortunately it's a much easier science than what it used to be with all the data we can get and the video is so up to date."
While the Cardinals are taking on an American League squad, the Pirates and the Reds are taking on the basement of the NL Central in the Cubs and Brewers, teams they are- by now- far more familiar with.
"I hope the guys don't spend too much time thinking about it. I think that can just be a discouragement. I think it can be a distraction," Matheny said. "That's something we can't control. We played them head to head we controlled what we could control at that particular time and now we have to take care own business. Do we peek up there every once in a while and look at the scoreboard? Yeah you can't help but do that, but it's out of our hands."
For what it's worth, Wainwright won his 2010 start as the Cardinals cruised to a 9-3 victory.