May 26, 2014

With a combined 38 World Series championships, the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals are two of baseball's most storied franchises.

Given the clubs' histories, Monday's series opener in St. Louis - their first matchup in nearly nine years - figures to command a lot of attention.

Not only do the Yankees (26-23) and Cardinals (28-22) rank Nos. 1 and 2 in terms of World Series titles, New York's 40 pennants are the most all-time in the American League while St. Louis' 19 are the third-most in the National League. These teams have met in five World Series, with the Cardinals triumphing three times, while New York has won four of six regular-season meetings.

"Because of the championships between both teams, and the success that they've had, (it's special)," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was a Cardinals teammate of St. Louis manager Mike Matheny in 2003, to the league's official website. "I really believe so."

They haven't met since St. Louis took two of three at home from June 10-12, 2005. Just two players from that series are playing with these teams this season: Derek Jeter and Yadier Molina.

Jeter, who was 5 for 13 against the Cardinals in those three matchups, recorded a season-high four hits in Sunday's 7-1 road win over the White Sox, including his first triple in 244 games. He's hitting .351 while reaching base in eight of his last nine games.

"I just want to try to help us win. That's it," Jeter said. "Our job is, if there's a guy on second base and I've got to hit a ground ball to second to move him over, I'll do it. I don't think about personal statistics. I think about trying to help us win."

The Cardinals are among the majors' hottest teams, winning nine of 11 after Sunday's 4-0 victory in Cincinnati. Though Molina got a day of rest after starting 44 of the club's first 49 games, five players contributed two hits each in the absence of St. Louis' batting leader.

Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong both own seven-game hitting streaks after multihit performances. Carpenter is 12 for 29 during his streak.

St. Louis is hoping Michael Wacha (3-3, 2.54 ERA) will remain effective after his previous start was cut short when Matt Adams' foul ball caught him on the right elbow in the dugout Wednesday. Wacha, who limited Arizona to two hits and three walks over six scoreless innings of an eventual 3-2, 12-inning victory, played catch Thursday without any issues.

"Everything feels good. I have all the range of motion and everything that I was looking for," Wacha told the team's official website. "As far as I know, I'm on track. The arm feels great and I just have the normal soreness after pitching yesterday."

Only four pitchers with lower ERAs than Wacha also own a lower run-support average than his 3.13 mark.

New York has won seven of 11 since a season-worst four-game skid, with the pitching staff posting a collective 2.32 ERA in that stretch. Masahiro Tanaka struck out six over 6 2-3 innings while Adam Warren and Matt Daley were perfect in relief on Sunday.

Rookie Chase Whitley (0-0, 1.00) will take the mound after yielding only a run over nine innings in his first two starts since being called up from Triple-A. Both were no-decisions for Whitley but wins for the Yankees, who have failed to supply him with a single run of support.

Whitley is the first rookie starter to face the Cardinals this season. First-year hurlers were 10-10 over 25 starts against St. Louis in 2013 with a 4.67 ERA.

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