With the Cardinals raising their World Series banner Friday and receiving their rings Saturday, the celebration of last year's title run is officially over. Sunday's focus will center strictly on winning their third straight series (not including their season-opening, one-game win over the Marlins).
As the Cardinals send Jake Westbrook to the hill to square off against Paul Maholm, though, one question that Cards manager Mike Matheny had coming into the weekend might still be left unanswered.
"We didn't know really what we were going to get from Chicago," Matheny said before Saturday's victory. "And you see that these guys have some arms and they have some guys who can juice some balls. It's going to be typical NL Central. It's going to be a fight."
What Matheny's club has gotten from Chicago so far was a nine-run, 10-hit performance on Friday night followed up by St. Louis' pitching staff limiting the Cubs to just a single run on Saturday.
As for Sunday's pitching matchup, the Cardinals are hoping Westbrook can duplicate the seven shutout innings he hurled in his season debut, while the Cubs are looking for Maholm to bounce back from a rocky opening start.
Maholm was saddled with the loss after being tagged for six runs on six hits and a pair of walks over just four innings against the Brewers on Tuesday, but manager Dale Sveum is confident that Maholm can make a quick recovery.
"With him, it's his sinker and how well he keeps his fastball down," Sveum said of the left-hander. "I've seen him in the past, when he's had the most success is when he uses his sinker and keeps it down and away. He just has to understand about getting quick outs with his sinker."
Cubs: DeJesus producing in leadoff role
Despite the loss Saturday, David DeJesus continued to produce at the top of the Cubs' lineup.
Along with a leadoff single in the eighth, DeJesus worked a leadoff walk in the sixth and later scored from second on a Starlin Castro single up the middle for the Cubs' only run of the game. Since Tuesday, DeJesus is 7-for-17 (.412) with a .571 on-base percentage and has scored seven runs.
"As much as anything, it's getting some hits and being relaxed and getting confident and not getting behind in the count as often," Sveum said Saturday. "Confidence is everything in hitting. You put a few hits together and it'll just snowball."
DeJesus hit just .125 (5-for-40) in the leadoff spot last season.
Cardinals: Freese, Berkman both day to day
David Freese, a late scratch prior to Saturday's game because of an irritation to one of the fingers on his right hand, is currently listed as day to day by the team.
Freese recorded a run-scoring single in Friday's home opener for his team-leading 11th RBI and has hit safely in all seven of his starts.
First baseman Lance Berkman, also listed as day to day with a minor tear to his left calf, is not expected to return for Sunday's series finale.
Aside from being cautious with the injury Berkman suffered last Tuesday, Matheny will likely take the opportunity to get more at-bats for bench players like Tyler Greene and Shane Robinson against the left-handed Maholm.
Since the start of the 2000 season, the Cubs are just 39-62 against the Cards at Busch Stadium. Within the confines of Wrigley Field, the Cubs are 57-40 against the Redbirds during that same time period.
Matt Holliday is just 3-for-24 (.125) in his career against Maholm. Two of his three hits, however, are home runs.
Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano has also struggled against Sunday's starter, recording just three hits in 25 career at-bats against Westbrook.