St. Louis encountered a less-than-ideal start to the National League Championship Series, but it is capable of digging out of its one-game deficit versus the Washington Nationals.
The Cardinals are turning to Adam Wainwright to level the series and then to Jack Flaherty with the potential to take the lead at Nationals Park.
Washington is the road favorite in Game 2, as its odds are set at -140 (bet $140 to win $100), while St. Louis is at (+130; bet $100 to win $130), per Caesars.
Dave Martinez's side should have confidence going into Saturday with Max Scherzer heading to the mound.
However, St. Louis' morale may go up for Game 2 because the 35-year-old was one of a few Washington pitchers it hit well in the regular season.
Game 2: Saturday, October 12 at St. Louis (4:08 p.m. ET, TBS)
Game 3: Monday, October 14 at Washington (Time TBD, TBS)
Game 4: Tuesday, October 15 at Washington (Time TBD, TBS)
Game 5: Wednesday, October 16 at Washington (Time TBD, TBS)*
Game 6: Friday, October 18 at St. Louis (Time TBD, TBS)*
Game 7: Saturday, October 19 at St. Louis (Time TBD, TBS)*
*-- if necessary.
St. Louis over Washington
St. Louis earned two regular-season victories against Scherzer, and one of them occurred with Wainwright starting for it.
On September 18 at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals tagged the right-hander for five earned runs on seven hits. The bottom of the order did the most damage, as Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman went 3-of-6 and Matt Wieters hit a pinch-hit home run.
To earn the win, Wainwright gave up a single run over seven innings, and the trio of Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller and Carlos Martinez finished off the win.
Wainwright also earned a victory April 30 at Nationals Park. The next day, Scherzer was rocked for three earned runs on eight hits.
As they were in the NLDS, Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna have to be the catalysts of St. Louis' offense. They had five hits in the May 1 triumph over Scherzer.
Mike Shildt's team also had some success against Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg, who will likely make their NLCS debuts in Games 3 and 4.
St. Louis earned nine runs against the duo, who went 2-1 with a no decision in four meetings with their NLCS foe.
At the plate, Dexter Fowler could be St. Louis' X-factor, as he has five multi-hit games in the NLCS from his time with the Chicago Cubs.
If the leadoff man sets the tone for Goldschmidt and Ozuna, the Cardinals could plate a few runs in rallies, instead of the sluggers producing a single tally on their own.
Early run support for Wainwright and Flaherty, who gave up four runs in two NLDS road starts, could help the NL Central champion open an advantage.
The Cardinals should not be affected by Washington's home crowd, either, as it went 14-8 on the road after August 13 and took two NLDS victories at SunTrust Park.
If Wainwright earns a Game 2 victory, the Cardinals should be in position to win at least one game on their travels.
They could triumph twice in Washington, D.C. if Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto are held to minimal production.
In Game 1, the duo was 2-of-8, and the Nationals left 13 runners on base. If the NL Wild-Card winner can't fix its offensive efficiency, the Cardinals could advance to the Fall Classic.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference