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St. Louis Cardinals (28-15) at San Diego Padres (20-23)
Petco Park, San Diego
How We Got Here
This is the first series of 2013 between these two teams, who split their six games last year. Each team swept their home series: the Cardinals did the honors in St. Louis last May 21-23, while San Diego returned the favor Sept. 10-12 (which caused just a little bit of angst at the time, which I remembered when looking to see what I blogged about then).
As for this season, the Cardinals travel back to the West Coast after going 7-3 on a productive home stand — they lost just one game in each series to the Rockies, Mets and Brewers. They are 13-4 in May, have the best record in the National League, keep jockeying with the Texas Rangers for the best record in the majors (they are 29-15 today) and currently lead the NL Central by 2 1/2 games over both the Pirates and Reds. All of this, of course, with the injuries that have occurred and, though now settled down, the bullpen blowups of a few weeks ago. Oh, and the roller coaster hitting.
After a 10-16 April, the Padres are 10-7 in May and inching toward .500 for the first time in 2013. They just split a four-game series with the Washington Nationals in San Diego, including a 13-4 win yesterday in which they scored seven earned runs off Dan Haren. The Padres are currently in fourth place in the NL West, 4 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in first and 3 1/2 behind the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants, who are tied for second.
Shelby Miller brings both an NL-best ERA of 1.40 and a 14 2/3 scoreless innings streak into tonight’s game at Petco Park. To state the obvious, he’s been terrific in his eight starts this seasaon and has allowed just eight earned runs in 51 1/3 innings while striking out 57 and walking 12 (not to mention the 27-straight-retired-one-hit-shutout against the Rockies). The Padres are actually a team Miller faced last year after being called up in September, plus the only team that scored off him during his six regular season appearances. He allowed two runs on four hits with two walks during three innings on Sept. 10.
As for Jason Marquis, yes, you are reading those numbers correctly (and might be just as surprised by them as I was if you haven’t been following the Padres closely). Marquis is going for his fifth straight win tonight, something he last did in 2007 with the Cubs. In addition to being 5-2 this season, he’s also 5-2 against the Cardinals for his career with a 3.80 ERA in nine games/seven starts. Last year Marquis was 6-7 for the Padres with a 4.04 ERA.
Adam Wainwright was not at his best in his most recent start, when he allowed three earned runs (four overall) on six hits in six innings against the Mets last Thursday — the only game the Mets won of the four-game series. Just before that, however, he threw a two-hit shutout against the Rockies, his second shutout of the season. He’s had good success against San Diego during his career too, with a 1.36 and 3-2 record in five starts/eight games. He’s struck out 42 Padres in 39 2/3 career innings.
What to say about Edinson Volquez? Sometimes it’s easiest just to directly quote from the Probable Pitchers page on the Cardinals website: “The inability to throw strikes once again plagued Volquez, who walked four and gave up five runs in five innings against the Nationals. The right-hander has, however, turned the corner a bit after a dreadful start.” He’s made eight career starts against the Cardinals, going 2-4 with a 5.32 ERA.
It will be the battle of the kids on Wednesday night, as 25-year-old Tyler Lyons makes his major league debut and 23-year-old Burch Smith makes his third big-league start. Lyons, a ninth-round draft pick of the Cards in 2010, has a 4.47 ERA in eight starts at Memphis this season. He’s struck out 38 and walked nine in 46 1/3 innings.
Smith made his major league debut on May 11 and lasted only one inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing six earned runs on five hits with two walks. Against the Nationals last Friday, he pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs on six hits and struck out eight. He definitely seems vulnerable to the home run: he’s allowed four in his 6 1/3 total innings — and three at Petco Park against the Nationals.
Cardinals team hitting: .266/.329/.387
Cardinals overall ERA: 3.16
Padres team hitting: .246/.317/.383
Padres overall ERA: 4.13
Cardinals team leaders
Batting average: Yadier Molina, .333
On-base percentage: Matt Carpenter, .378
Slugging percentage: Carlos Beltran, .520
Home runs: Carlos Beltran, 10
RBI: Allen Craig, 30
WAR – batting: Matt Carpenter, 1.9
Stolen bases: Yadier Molina, Daniel Descalso and Shane Robinson, 3 each
Wins: Lance Lynn, 6
ERA: Shelby Miller, 1.40
Strikeouts: Adam Wainwright, 63
Saves: Edward Mujica, 13
WAR – pitching: Shelby Miller, 2.3
Padres team leaders
Batting average: Chris Denorfia, .287
On-base percentage: Chase Headley, .397
Slugging percentage: Chase Headley, .485
Home runs: Yonder Alonso and Will Venable, 5
RBI: Yonder Alonso, 24
WAR – batting: Chris Denorfia, 1.5
Stolen bases: Everth Cabrera, 15
Wins: Jason Marquis, 5
ERA: Jason Marquis, 3.49
Strikeouts: Eric Stults, 36
Saves: Huston Street, 10
WAR – pitching: Andrew Cashner, 0.7