The Astros will finish out the season with a three game series at home against the hated St. Louis Cardinals. Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter and the rest of the Cards come to town trailing Atlanta by a single game for the final playoff spot. The Astros would love nothing more than eliminating their rivals from contention. The fans would probably love it even more.
The Cardinals seemed to be falling out of contention, trailing Atlanta by 4.5 games as recently as September 15. But the Cards have battled their way back to within one by winning eight of their last eleven. Houston is 4-8 against the Cardinals this season and Cardinal killer Bud Norris is unable to pitch in the series. Monday’s matchup features a pair of lefties as Jaime Garcia opposes Wandy Rodriguez. Both have been solid performers in 2011. Garcia is 13-7 with a 3.45 ERA but has gone 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA against the Astros. Rodriguez is 11-11 with a 3.51 ERA and held St. Louis to one run in seven innings in his only start against them this season.
The resurgent Jake Westbrook takes on Astros rookie Henry Sosa in game two of the series Tuesday. For more on Sosa check out this kickass article from our friend Nathaniel Stoltz at Seedlings to Stars. Wednesday’s season finale features two of the games fiercest competitors. Bad boy Chris Carpenter goes head-to-head against the red-hot Brett Myers. Carpenter is once again among the league leaders in innings pitched and Myers has won his last four decisions. To say it has been a long and painful season for Astros fans would be an understatement. Eliminating the Cardinals from playoff contention would heal some of the gaping, oozing wounds we fans have suffered along the way. I expect Brad Mills to do everything he can to deliver a knockout punch to the Cards.