(BaseballStL) -- There’s no less pressure on the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, just because they have already won this three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers. “This is a day-to-day game,” Cards skipper Mike Matheny said before the game. “If you focus too much on the series you could let a game go. You have to keep the throttle down. Today could be the day that decides whether we play in October.”
Though the throttle may be down, Matheny was clearly more relaxed before Sunday night’s game than he was before the series. The Cardinals won the first two games, 3-2 Friday night and 4-2 Saturday behind a rejuvenated Joe Kelly. They start tonight’s game in first place, a half game in front of the fading Milwaukee Brewers. When asked if this is the start of the Cardinals’ traditional play-off push, Matheny smiled and said that push started on opening day.
Matt Holliday, who banged his head on a failed pick-off play Saturday is in the line-up tonight and shows no signs of a concussion. Matheny said Holliday had a headache as the game progressed and felt out of sorts so he was removed for precautionary reasons but was cleared to play today.
The Cards will field a line-up with only two left-handers - Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams – against what is arguably the league’s best pitcher in Clayton Kershaw. Matheny acknowledged that will be tough duty for starters Mark Ellis and Peter Bourjos, but said he was certain they preferred that to not being in the lineup.
Following the off day Monday, Adam Wainwright will start the series against Tampa Bay with Wednesday’s starter yet to be determined.
Matheny said in an effort to keep him sharp, Shelby Miller will throw a bullpen session if he does not pitch in tonight’s game and while an option to start Wednesday, that did not appear to be likely.
Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez will be monitored closely as the Cards’ skipper acknowledged he did not want Martinez’ last start in Milwaukee to be repeated. In that game Martinez appeared to have prepared poorly, was hyperactive in the clubhouse before the game and surrendered four straight rips up the middle to start the game en route to an 11-2 loss.
“We’ve had several conversations with Carlos about controlling his emotions,” Matheny said. “Bouncing off the walls doesn’t help us. He needs a consistent approach and consistent execution.”
Although Martinez lost his last start, the Cards are 5-1 in games he started this year. They will need his best because Kershaw has won his last eight starts with an ERA of . 74 since June 2.
Tonight’s lineup for the Cards: