The St. Louis Cardinals avoided a sweep from the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles Sunday night, giving them momentum heading into an important three-game set with the Miami Marlins beginning Monday night. After imploding in the first two games of their series with Baltimore, giving up 22 runs on 31 hits, the Cardinals broke out with a season high hitting performance of their own in Sunday’s f-inale.
The Cardinals backed pitcher Lance Lynn with eight runs and a season-high seventeen hits. Lynn only made it 5.2 innings, but surrendered just three runs to the red hot Orioles offense. Kolten Wong stayed hot in the victory going 4-5 and the Cardinals received an unexpected pinch-hit three-run homer from Peter Bourjos.
The victory lifted the Cardinals to 62-54 and put them to games back from Milwaukee in the NL Central. This week’s three game series against the Marlins will be crucial in keeping the Cardinals in the playoff hunt. While the Cardinals take on the Marlins (57-60), the first place Brewers will be taking on the last place Cubs. St. Louis will need to win the series and may need a sweep against a Miami club that has stayed competitive this season despite losing the ace of their staff in Jose Fernandez.
Game one Monday will pair a streaky Shelby Miller against 28 year-old Tom Koehler. Miller has pitched well lately, giving up just 5 earned since returning to the rotation. Koehler has gone 1-2 during that same span, sandwiching a gem against the Cincinnati Reds between to sub-par performances against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros.
The second game of the set will pit ace Adam Wainwright against newly acquired Marlin Jarred Cosart. The matchup gives the Cardinals a clear advantage, although Wainwright has been shaky of late, giving up 7 earned just two starts ago against the Brewers. Cosart gave up four runs in his first outing with the Marlins and took the loss. He is sporting a ERA on the season and a mixed -record of 9-8.
The finale on Wednesday will be Justin Masterson’s third game as a Cardinal, as he squares off against young-gun Nathan Eovaldi. Masterson has struggled mightily in his two starts with the Cardinals and may be pitching to save his spot in the rotation. Carlos Martinez has been pitching well in Memphis and Michael Wacha is being rumored for a return in early September. With seven rotation arms, Masterson could find himself outside of the hunt with another poor performance Wednesday.
With the pitching woes of the Orioles series, the Cardinals’ bats will need to wake up against the average rotation of the Miami Marlins. Expect Mark Ellis to get a start in this series after manager Mike Matheny promised him playing time in the weekend’s series and was unable to do so thanks to the hot hitting of Daniel Descalso. Wednesday’s game will surely be one to keep your eye on as Masterson will be under some substantial pressure to perform and the Cardinals offense will be facing one of the bright up-and-coming pitchers in Nathan Eovaldi.