Friday marks the return of the St. Louis Cardinals (68-56) to Great American Ball Park as they square off for a weekend clash against the NL Central-leading Reds (76-50).
The red-hot Reds enter the series 26 games over .500 and owners of the best record in MLB (30-11) since the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, the second-place Cardinals are coming off a sweep of the Astros and are hoping to gain some ground in the standings.
Will the Cardinals embark on another one of their miraculous late-season runs this weekend, or will Dusty Baker's team deliver a virtual knockout blow to the defending champs' division title hopes? We will know by Sunday evening.
Here are 10 facts about the series against the Redbirds:
1. It's a classic 3-game, weekend set with start times of 7:10et (Friday), 4:05et (Saturday), and 1:10 et (Sunday).
2. Here are the probable pitching match-ups:
Fri - CIN Mat Latos (10-3, 3.56) vs STL Lance Lynn (13-5, 3.73)
Sat - CIN Mike Leake (5-8, 4.59) vs STL Jaime Garcia (3-4, 4.00)
Sun - CIN Homer Bailey (10-8, 4.11) vs STL Adam Wainwright (12-10, 3.65)
3. Cincinnati leads the season series, 5-4. The Reds swept the Cards in their last meeting in mid-July at GABP. The two teams won't meet again until the first week of October when they close out the regular season in St. Louis.
4. The Reds haven't lost a game played on a Friday since June 22nd (vs MIN). They're a perfect 8-0 ever since.
5. The Redbirds enter play on Friday a full seven games back of the Reds for first place, but hold a 0.5 game lead in NL Wild Card.
6. STL OF Carlos Beltran leads all National League hitters in RBI with 85.
7. The Cards lead the NL in runs scored (610), average (.273), on-base percentage (.340), and OPS (.769). They have outscored opponents by a combined total of 123 this season...tops in the majors.
8. Cincy's record in one-run games in 2012 is 22-17. On the flip side, St. Louis is just 13-21.
9. The Reds will retire the no. 11 on Saturday in honor of Barry Larkin, the newest member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
10. St. Louis holds the edge in the all-time series with a record of 1,082-956.