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First Pitch: After rain delay, Cardinals go for sweep, best record vs. Cubs in years

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First Pitch, originally set for 1:15 p.m. St. Louis time, has been delayed nearly 90 minutes by poor weather in the area and rain clouds hovering over Busch Stadium. The game began at 2:43 p.m. St. Louis time.

In the final game against the Chicago Cubs of the 2022 season, the Cardinals can sweep a series from their rivals. A win today would secure the best regular season record (13-6) for the Cardinals against the Cubs since 2013 when they went 12-7.

Despite being given the "game off" Saturday, Lars Nootbaar is back in the starting lineup and leading off for the Cardinals. The now de facto right fielder pinch hit for rookie Ben DeLuzio in the third inning of the blowout win, getting an RBI sacrifice fly and taking over for the final two-thirds of the game. 

Cardinals Oliver Marmol has shown a propensity for "going for the kill," pinch-hitting early in the game in big moments to tack on runs. While often times doing so for Albert Pujols, who will not start against the righty Stroman, the Nootbaar move is in character and likely will be repeated for Pujols today if the opportunity arises. 

Despite his strong performance yesterday, Yadier Molina will get the day off after catching in back-to-back games and due to the night-day schedule. Andrew Knizner will get the start with Mikolas on the mound, a pairing that has worked out well for the both of them. In 18 starts between the battery, Mikolas is holding hitters to a .248 batting average. 

Tyler O'Neill continues to serve as the primary center fielder until confidence is restored in Dylan Carlson's bat at the plate. O'Neill has rediscovered his form from his breakout 2021 campaign of late, hitting a season-best .284 with four home runs the last two weeks. Corey Dickerson will start in left. 

Nolan Gorman will start against the right handed pitching Stroman and play second base, moving Tommy Edman over to shortstop. 

In today’s 10 a.m. video, columnist Ben Hochman discusses Cardinals’ outfielder Lars Nootbaar, whose amazing plate discipline and power has led to a stellar season. And, as always, Hochman picks a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat. Ten Hochman is presented by Window Nation!

Lineups 

CARDINALS (78-55)

1. Lars Nootbaar, RF

2. Brendan Donovan, DH

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Corey Dickerson, LF

6. Tyler O'Neill, CF

7. Nolan Gorman, 2B 

8. Andrew Knizner, C

9. Tommy Edman, SS

P: Miles Mikolas, RHP

Pitching Matchup

RHP Miles Mikolas (10-10, 3.48 ERA): Looking to regain his form from earlier in the season, Mikolas is hoping to find consistency in his outings. Last start he couldn't finish the fifth inning against the Reds, but before that went eight innings in consecutive starts.

RHP Marcus Stroman (3-6, 3.68 ERA): The one time Team USA winning pitcher in the WBC recently announced his intentions to pitch with Team Puerto Rico in the event in March. In his last time out against the Cardinals, he was masterful until falling apart late in the game. Ultimately surrendering eleven hits and five runs.

Wild Cards

  • The Cardinals trade deadline acquisitions have paid dividends immediately. After Jo Jo Romero appeared in Saturdays win, the Cardinals improved to 24-3 in games where their new players have appeared.
  • The magic number to clinch the division is 23, meaning any combination of 23 wins for the Cardinals or losses for the Brewers would win them the NL Central Crown. At this moment the Cardinals own a 7.5 game lead, their largest lead since 2009.

Injury Report 

  • RHP Jack Flaherty (shoulder) threw 6 2/3 innings and struck out nine, Flaherty did not allow a run until the seventh inning in his final rehab appearance. He will start Monday afternoon against the Washington Nationals (Updated Sept. 4)
  • Left-hander Steven Matz (torn MCL) will head to Class AA Springfield for a rehab appearance Tuesday. He will be preparing to return to the majors in a relief role, so his rehab work could be abbreviated and will be a test of his ability to bounce back day to day. The Cardinals have not decided if he'll appear in back-to-back games, but they would like to see him handle at least two innings in one appearance before returning to the majors. (Updated Sept. 4)
  • RHP Drew VerHagen (hip) and RHP Alex Reyes (shoulder) underwent season-ending surgeries. Both right-handed pitchers are expected to be ready for spring training after a winter of recovery. (Updated Aug. 20)

Up Next

The Cardinals welcome the Washington Nationals to Busch Stadium for a four-game weekday home stand.

Check back here throughout the afternoon and evening for immediate coverage of the game and any news that surfaces from the Cardinals' pre-game activities. We will publish expanded game coverage online Sunday night, and also in the pages of Monday's Post-Dispatch.

In today’s 10 a.m. video, columnist Ben Hochman discusses Paul Goldschmidt, Albert Pujols, Jordan Montgomery and the scorching Cardinals of August. Also, a happy birthday shoutout to Debbie Gibson! And, as always, Hochman picks a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat. Ten Hochman is presented by Window Nation!

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