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09/15/09 1:00 PM ET

Cards open 2010 with special contest

Redbirds to face Redlegs in season opener in Cincinnati

ST. LOUIS -- One of baseball's most tradition-rich franchises will participate in one of the game's grandest and most time-honored spectacles in 2010.

The Cardinals will open the 2010 season against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati has long been the ceremonial home of baseball's opening, with a Monday afternoon game on the season's first full day. The Redbirds and Redlegs will open the season on April 5 with the start of a three-game series.

Major League Baseball announced the 2010 schedule on Tuesday.

Following the opening series in Cincinnati, the Cardinals will travel to Milwaukee for three games before beginning the home campaign. St. Louis' 2010 home opener is set for April 12 against the Astros. After a three-game series with Houston, the Mets will come to Busch Stadium to round out the season's first homestand.

Of course, beyond the opener, the first question many fans will ask is about the Chicago Cubs, and the answer may be a touch disappointing for some. The Cards' main rivals only come to St. Louis twice in 2010. The first series is scheduled for Aug. 13-15, followed by three more games Sept. 13-15. However, the Cardinals travel north to Chicago three times next year, with visits to Wrigley Field from May 28-30, July 23-25 and Sept. 24-26.

Interleague Play brings an intriguing slate for the Cards. The National League Central draws the American League West in the upcoming year, and the home slate is filled with western opponents. The Angels (May 21-23), Mariners (June 15-17) and A's (June 18-20) all come to St. Louis. The Cardinals play two Interleague road series: June 22-24 at Toronto, and June 25-27 at Kansas City. The Royals do not come to St. Louis in 2010.

The drive to the finish will be a difficult one for the Redbirds in 2010. In stark contrast to the 2009 schedule, the Cardinals play 43 games over the season's final 45 days, including a stretch of 13 straight to finish the year. The Cardinals end the year at home with a one-week homestand. The Pirates visit Sept. 27-30, and the Rockies finish out the regular-season slate with an Oct. 1-3 trip to St. Louis.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.