Key things to watch for in today's games

Key things to watch for in today's games

Get ready for a big time battle on Monday in St. Louis, between the Giants and the Cardinals, that is sure to bring back memories of last season's National League Championship Series. The two clubs will square off for the first time since that unforgettable series.

Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha will face the Giants for the first time since surrendering a walk-off home run to Travis Ishikawa that sent San Francisco to the World Series. Wacha has been on a roll of late, allowing just two runs over his last 20 innings. In his previous start against the Pirates, the right-hander allowed two runs on nine hits in six innings for his third straight win.

Meanwhile, right-hander Chris Heston will make his first career appearance against the Cardinals. In his previous start against the Astros, he allowed one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings for his second straight loss.

Here's a look at a few more intriguing games on Monday.

Cole Trying for W: ARI @ PIT, 7:05 p.m. ET
For the first four months of the season, Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole was unstoppable, tallying win after win. However, tough luck and spotty command have kept Cole winless in August. He'll look to get back on track against the D-backs with Jeremy Hellickson set to take the hill in the series opener.

Going 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts during the month, Cole is still tied for the MLB lead with 14 wins. In his previous start against the Cardinals, Cole allowed four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings for the loss.

Hellickson, coming off his best start of the season, blanked the Phillies over eight innings for the win after allowing 10 earned runs in just 8 innings over his previous two starts.

Hellickson's terrific game

Hamels Returns: SEA @ TEX, 8:05 p.m. ET
After missing his last start with a sore groin muscle, Cole Hamels will make his third start with the Rangers as right-hander Taijuan Walker gets the nod for the Mariners in the series opener.

Hamels' last start was against Seattle on Aug. 7 when he allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings for the loss.

After a slow start to the season, Walker is coming into his own. Over his past 14 games, the right-hander is 7-2 with a 3.33 ERA. In his previous outing against the Orioles, Walker allowed two runs on five hits in six innings for a no-decision.

Walker fans six over six frames

Ramirez on a Roll: TB @ HOU, 8:10 p.m. ET
Rays right-hander Erasmo Ramirez takes the hill for the series opener, while left-hander Scott Kazmir gets the nod for the Astros.

Ramirez continues to excel since joining the team's starting rotation in mid-May, going 9-3 in 16 starts, which is tied for the most wins in the American League over that span. He had one of his best starts of the season in his last outing against the Braves, allowing five hits in seven innings for the win.

Kazmir lost a pitchers' duel with Madison Bumgarner his last time out, committing two errors while allowing two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Giants for the loss.

Ramirez's scoreless start

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.