Matheny and Ventura are first-year managers for the Cardinals and White Sox, respectively. They've both had to deal with the huge expectations that come with following skippers like Tony La Russa and Ozzie Guillen, both of whom brought World Series titles to their respective cities.
While the pressure has been significant, Matheny and Ventura have had successful starts to their managing careers as their teams prepare to play each other in the second game of a three-game Interleague set Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
Matheny's Cardinals are 31-31 and three games out of first place in the National League Central, while Ventura's White Sox sit atop the American League Central standings with a 34-27 record, 1 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland. The White Sox took the first game of the series, 6-1, on Tuesday night.
Both teams will send their aces to the mound for the middle game of the series. The Cardinals will turn to Lance Lynn, who rebounded from a rough outing against the Mets with a dominating performance at Houston last Thursday. Lynn, who is 9-2 with a 2.66 ERA this season, struck out 11 and allowed only two runs in six innings of a 14-2 win against the Astros.
The White Sox will go with Jake Peavy, who hasn't dropped a decision since April 28. Peavy gave up two runs on four hits in six innings in his last time out against the Blue Jays, and took a no-decision. He's 6-1 with a 3.05 ERA on the season. Chicago is 4-0 in Peavy's last four starts and 9-3 in his 12 starts this season.
The White Sox have relied heavily on Peavy and Chris Sale the last five times through the rotation as the team's other starters have struggled at times.
"Everything goes through stretches," Ventura said. "Just like offensively, we had the hot streak a couple weeks ago. Pitching kind of does that, too, but we still like who we got. I like the guys we got and the stuff they have. It's just [a matter of] putting it together and getting a good run going."
White Sox: Matheny impressed by Dunn's start
Matheny has been impressed by the pop in the middle of the White Sox order, especially from Adam Dunn.
Dunn's power numbers have returned after a tough 2011 season. He enters Wednesday's game with a 21 home runs -- second in the Majors to Josh Hamilton's 22 -- to go along with his 47 RBIs.
"There was no question he had power," Matheny said. "You can have seasons, whether it's physical, and it leads to confidence issues. Those happen, but he's put together a good, strong season so far."
Dunn's batting average is still down -- he's hitting just .227 for the season -- but he said recently that number doesn't concern him.
"Honestly, I really don't look at batting average," Dunn said. "I know my job is to drive in runs and get on base and things of that nature. I don't care how I get on. I mean, whatever: walk, hit, I don't care. But it's down at the bottom."
Dunn has five home runs in 10 games this month, including three in his last three games. He has 31 career homers against the Cardinals.
Center fielder Alex Rios is 18-for-50 (.360) with eight RBIs in his last 12 games. On the season, Rios is hitting .293 with six home runs and 32 RBIs, a year after hitting just .227 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs.
Cardinals: First-round pick Michael Wacha signs
The Cardinals signed first-round pick Michael Wacha on Tuesday, according to general manager John Mozeliak. The agreement will be final if Wacha passes a physical on Thursday.
Wacha, a right-handed pitcher out of Texas A&M, went 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA and 116 strikeouts last season. The recommended signing bonus for that slot in the Draft is $1.9 million, though Wacha is not locked into agreeing to that figure.
The Cardinals received the No. 19 selection in last week's First-Year Player Draft -- the pick they used on Wacha -- from the Angels as compensation for the free-agent departure of Albert Pujols during the offseason.
Shortstop Rafael Furcal continued his mini-slump with an 0-for-4 performance Tuesday night. Furcal is 0-for-15 in his last four games.
White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko was 3-for-4 in Tuesday's game and is now hitting .373 with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs.
Chicago third baseman Orlando Hudson has five RBIs in the last two games. He had only two RBIs in his previous 10 games.
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday went 2-for-4 on Tuesday after missing the previous two games with a back injury.