The Cardinals begin their home stand against the San Diego Padres Thursday night after a rough road stretch where the team went 2-4 against the Orioles and Marlins. St. Louis lost the opening two games in both Baltimore and Miami, but were able to salvage the series’ with get away game victories.
St. Louis defeated the Marlins 5-2 on Wednesday behind a strong start from Justin Masterson. Masterson through seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball, and added an RBI single, while improving his record to 2-1 as a Cardinal. The start may have bought Masterson a start in the rotation, as Carlos Martinez’s return to the big leagues has been rumored of late.
The victory over the Marlins improved the Cardinals’ record to 63-56 and brought them into a second place tie in the NL Central and 2.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers. The series against the San Diego Padres allows for yet another opportunity for the Cardinals to make up ground against a bad team.
The Cardinals have failed in recent series, going 6-8 against teams with losing records in the second half. Luckily, the Cardinals have been able to go 5-4 against teams with winning records, keeping them on the coat tails of the Brewers and atop the NL Wild Card standings.
Thursday’s pairing of John Lackey vs. Eric Stults gives the Cardinals what looks to be a clear advantage. Lackey was roughed up in his last outing, but had been very good in his previous four starts. Stults is 5-13 on the season and carries a 4.76 ERA. Despite such a poor overall record, Stults has given up just one earned in his last two outings, receiving two wins against the Pirates and the Braves. A strong performance from Lackey on Thursday could be a momentum builder and could be a confidence builder for the Cardinals.
Friday’s matchup of Lance Lynn and Tyson Ross is a rematch from the clubs previous series. The Padres defeated the Cardinals 3-1 in that game, but both pitchers held their own. Ross picked up the victory, going six innings and giving up one earned, while striking out seven. Lynn nearly matched Ross, also going six innings and allowing two runs, only one of them being earned. The Cardinals managed just six hits in the game and will look to get back on track at Busch Stadium.
Shelby Miller will opposed rookie right-hander Jesse Hahn, whom faced off against Joe Kelly in the previous meeting and received twelve runs of support in a victory over the Cards. Hahn pitched seven innings against the Cardinals and gave up just one run, but hasn’t surpassed five innings in either of his last two starts, giving up three runs in both. Miller was roughed up by Stanton and the Marlins in his last start, but has seen his fast and curveball consistency improve lately.
The finals pits Adam Wainwright and Odrisamer Despaigne. Despaigne recovered from two rough starts with seven innings of scoreless ball against the struggling Rockies, but got knocked around for six earned in his last start against the Cardinals. Wainwright took the loss in his last game, but went seven innings and gave up three earned against the Marlins. With nine or ten starts left, the club might be fighting even harder for Wainwright, who has a chance to win twenty games this season and owns a sparkling 2.34 ERA.
The four game set against the Padres again gives the Cardinals an opportunity to close in on the Brewers, who play a three-game set against the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers come off of a four-game split with the last place Cubs, and the Brewers lost two of three to the Dodgers a week ago.
The homestand will hopefully spark Matt Adams, who’s hitting under .230 in the second half, but is hitting .340 on the season at Busch Stadium. Hopefully the Cardinals are also sparked by playing in front of 40,000+ fans, as the Marlins series attendance passed just 60,000 and players at times could be heard greater than the fans.