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Cardinals Vs. Reds Preview: Intense Rivalry Picks Up In 2012

The Cardinals continue their early tour of NL Central parks as they hit Cincinnati and the hated Reds.

Presswire

The rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds may be the most intense in all of baseball, and it will pick up once again in 2012, with one principal member no longer present. That would be manager Tony La Russa, who often angered opposing teams and fanbases with his comments and actions. But the two principal members of the ongoing feud— Reds second basemen Brandon Phillips and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina— remain, and with the Cardinals coming off a World Series victory, the Reds will certainly be looking to make a statement as far as this season is concerned.

The Cardinals sit at 3-1 on the season, having torched the Brewers in two of three games over the weekend, while the Reds (2-1) rode a furious ninth inning rally on Sunday to a series victory over the Miami Marlins. St. Louis will throw Jake Westrbook out onto the hill tonight, and after an encouraging spring, there is hope that Westbrook can bring his ERA back down to earth after posting a 4.66 ERA last season. In three starts vs. Cincinnati last season, Westbrook was not good, lasting only 15.1 combined innings and giving up nine earned runs, including five homers.

The Reds will counter with Homer Bailey, who was once again slightly above average for a starting pitcher last season despite renewed predictions of a breakthrough season. He'll have a chance to make good on those prophecies in 2012, though he'll have to do better vs. St. Louis than he did last year, when he gave up five earned runs in 10.1 innings across two starts.

Game date/time: Monday, April 9, 7:05 p.m. CT

Location: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, Ohio

TV: FSN Midwest

For more on this series, stick with SB Nation St. Louis. For more on the Cardinals visit Viva El Birdos, and for more on the Reds visit Red Reporter. For news, notes and analysis from around the league, check out Baseball Nation.