The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in last season's NL division series before going on to win their 11th World Series.
While the NL Central-leading Cardinals have more or less picked up where they left off, the last-place Phillies have struggled without Missouri native Ryan Howard, out since tearing his Achilles in October.
The Cardinals try for a 13th win in 19 meetings with the Phillies as the teams open a four-game set Thursday night at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis was a heavy underdog when it faced Philadelphia in the division series, but the NL's wild-card winner rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win the series and kick off an impressive October run.
Despite losing Albert Pujols in free agency and suffering a slew of injures - including Lance Berkman's torn meniscus - the Cardinals (25-19) are still one of baseball's best teams. They lead the NL with 231 runs, 56 homers and a .278 average.
"Lance, we don't know what's going to happen with him, and some othe...