by Mike Stewart
The Cardinals also had to replace longtime manager Tony LaRussa, bringing on first-time skipper Mike Matheny, while the Brewers dealt with the controversy surrounding reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun, who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs but successfully appealed what would have been a 50-game suspension.
Despite numerous changes since last year’s surprise run to the World Series title, the Cardinals have picked up right where they left off in October, opening the 2012 campaign with two convincing road victories. The second of those came Friday against NL Central rival Milwaukee, an 11-5 drubbing at Miller Park. Four different St. Louis players hit home runs, including World Series MVP David Freese and newly acquired outfielder Carlos Beltran.
Fresh off a career year in 2010, Wainwright underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2011 season. Though healthy, he will be on a pitch count early in the year, so the bullpen will likely need to handle the last three or four innings regardless of how well Wainwright fares. The right-hander is 7-4 with a 2.06 ERA in 21 appearances (14 starts) against the Brewers.
Greinke finished his first NL season in strong fashion, going 9-3 with a 2.59 ERA after the All-Star break. The 2009 American League Cy Young winner overcame an early season injury to strike out 10.54 batters per nine innings with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 201:45. In nine career games against the Cardinals, Greinke is 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA.
1. St. Louis hitters are a combined 25-for-75 (.333) against Greinke, with outfielder Matt Holliday (5-for-12, two homers) experiencing the most success.
2. Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez is 16-for-42 (.381) with two home runs in his career against Wainwright, with all those matchups coming while Ramirez was with the Cubs.
3. Including their six meetings in last year’s National League Championship Series, the Cardinals were 11-9 against the Brewers in 2011. The two clubs split their 10 games in Milwaukee.
MLB BASEBALL PREDICTION: Milwaukee 4, St Louis 3
adam wainwright - albert pujols - aramis ramirez - carlos beltran - david freese - matt holliday - mike matheny - miller park - milwaukee brewers - prince fielder