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First Pitch: Cardinals look to pounce on Reds uncertainty, misfortune in Friday night showdown

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In today’s 10 a.m. video, columnist Ben Hochman discusses the Cardinals’ legendary duo of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on the day of their record-breaking 325th start together. And, as always, Hochman picks a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat. Ten Hochman is presented by Window Nation!

First Pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium.

Suffering a loss in the series opener, the Cardinals turn to Jack Flaherty to get them back into the win column. 

Andrew Knizner will be charged with guiding him through his third start since returning from the IL. With so many milestones to mark this week with Yadier Molina behind the plate, the veteran catcher will get the day off he was scheduled for yesterday had it not been Roberto Clemente Day. 

The Cincinnati Reds announced their starter, recently called up righty Fernando Cruz, less than four hours prior to game time due to the originally scheduled starter, Justin Dunn, being scratched yesterday after experiencing shoulder soreness. Cruz has not pitched more than two innings in an appearance in 56 games played this year. 

With a doubleheader tomorrow, both teams will be able to add an extra pitcher to the roster, making the potential effects of a well-worn bullpen mitigated to some extent. 

Given the use of the opener, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol has arranged the batting order to force Reds managers David Bell to make difficult decisions about who, when and where to replace his pitchers. When Milwaukee went with a bullpen game earlier in the week, Marmol described a desire to avoid alleyways for right-handed or left-handed relievers to come in under ideal conditions.

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CARDINALS (84-60) 

1. Brendan Donovan, 2B

2. Tommy Edman, SS

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Corey Dickerson, LF

6. Albert Pujols, DH

7. Lars Nootbaar, RF

8. Tyler O'Neill, CF

9. Andrew Knizner, C

P: Jack Flaherty, RHP

REDS (57-86)

1. TJ Friedl, LF

2. Jonathan India, 2B

3. Kyle Farmer, SS

4. Jake Fraley, DH

5. Donovan Solano, 1B

6. Aristides Aquino, RF

7. Nick Senzel, CF

8. Spencer Steer, 3B

9. Austin Romine, C

P: RHP Fernando Cruz

Pitching Matchup

RHP Jack Flaherty (0-1, 4.50 ERA): Coming off of a challenging start on his last time out, Jack Flaherty will look to avoid the long ball in tonight's start. He allowed two home runs in five innings last time out against the Pirates. 

RHP Fernando Cruz (0-0, 1.42 ERA): Cruz spent 16 years in the minor leagues before being called up for the first time on Sept. 2. He has made six appearances this season, including one start where he served as the opener, going two innings.  

Wild Cards

  • Since the All-Star break, the Cardinals have hit the most home runs in baseball with 82, and allowed the fewest with 39.
  • With two bases tonight, Yadier Molina would pass Lance Parrish (3,119) for ninth all-time among primary catchers. With one RBI he would pass Brian McCann (1018) for 12th all-time by a primary catcher.

Injury Report 

  • Dylan Carlson (thumb) will begin a rehab assignment with either Memphis or Springfield today (the club has not confirmed which). Springfield, which ends their season Sunday in Tulsa, is one option, while Memphis, who plays in Des Moines this weekend, is another. There is a chance a successful rehab assignment could see Carlson returned to the Cardinals Sunday ahead of the west coast road trip. (Updated Sept. 16)
  • Left-hander Steven Matz (torn MCL) threw a scoreless one inning in relief Thursday, the second time he has done so. He will now be reevaluated with the potential to rejoin the Cardinals as a relief pitcher on their west coast road trip. (Updated Sept. 16)
  • 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 host the Reds for five games, including a doubleheader on Saturday, before jetting west for a road trip to Los Angeles and San Diego.  

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 Friday night, and also in the pages of Saturday's Post-Dispatch.

In today’s 10 a.m. video, columnist Ben Hochman discusses this day in Cardinals history, when a team legend drove in 12 runs! Plus, a happy birthday shoutout to Richard Marx. 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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