The All-Star break seems like it’s been going on forever but, at last, the Cardinals are back in action tonight at Busch Stadium to begin a five-game homestand.
First up: three games against the Dodgers, who haven’t played in St. Louis since last October and the National League Championship Series. While these games don’t have exactly the same magnitude, the Dodgers currently are leading the National League West by just one game over the Giants and the Cardinals are only one game behind the Brewers in the National League Central.
To help prepare you for the series, here’s a preview courtesy of the latest issue of The Bird’s Eye View from the United Cardinal Bloggers, which I wrote. If you don’t yet receive these previews before each series, subscribe now here to stay up-to-date throughout the second half of the season.
Los Angeles Dodgers (54-43) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (52-44)
July 18-20, 2014
Let the second half begin! Or, more accurately, let the final 40 percent of the season begin! (That really doesn’t have the same effect, does it?) Regardless of the schedule-related math, the All-Star break is finally over. Time to get back to real baseball that matters, where we don’t have to hear about That Guy Who Plays Shortstop In New York And Is Retiring for a while (although, hey, it’s his final start to the second half of the season tonight!) nor hear the words “pipe shot” anymore. (Hopefully. Thankfully.)
Tonight it’s back to National League baseball at Busch Stadium, where the pitcher bats and these games really do count for something: the Dodgers battle for the top spot in the NL West and the Cardinals fight for the same in the NL Central. Yes, the Dodgers return to St. Louis for the first time since last October’s National League Championship Series for these next three games. Let’s take a look at what’s ahead …
How We Got Here
On June 8, the Dodgers were 33-31 and in second place 9 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the West standings. The Giants tremendous June swoon combined with the Dodgers going 18-10 for the month (including taking three of four from the Cardinals June 26-29) propelled the Dodgers into first place, where they currently have a one-game lead.
Similarly, the Cardinals found themselves 6 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the Central on July 1. Having won eight of the 12 games since they faced the Dodgers in Los Angeles and with the Brewers having gone 2-11 in that same stretch, the Cards did tie the Brewers atop the Central last Saturday and are now just one game back.
As mentioned, the Cardinals and Dodgers faced each other in late June. The Cardinals only victory, a 3-1 win three weeks ago tonight, came against a starter they won’t face this series, Hyun-jin Ryu.
Friday, July 18
7:15 p.m. Central Time
FOX Sports Midwest, SportsNet LA, MLB Network
Dan Haren (8-6, 4.23 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (10-6, 3.14 ERA)
Haren vs. the Cardinals: 4-1, 3.86 ERA in six career starts. He hasn’t faced the Cards in a while, as his most recent start against them was April 22, 2013, when he was on the Washington Nationals. He gave up 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 5 innings pitched in a game the Cardinals won 3-2.
Lynn vs. the Dodgers: 2-1, 4.95 ERA in four career starts. He faced the Dodgers on June 28 and it wasn’t pretty: 7 runs, 6 earned, on 9 hits with 2 walks in just 2 innings in the Cards 9-1 loss.
Saturday, July 19
3:05 p.m. Central Time
FOX Sports Midwest, SportsNet LA, FOX Sports 1
Zack Greinke (11-5, 2.73 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (1-1, 3.44 ERA)
Greinke vs. the Cardinals: 9-3, 2.93 ERA in 13 appearances and 11 starts. He faced the Cardinals in the game Lance Lynn started on June 28, allowing the 1 run on a Matt Carpenter home run. He gave up 3 other hits and struck out 10.
Kelly vs. the Dodgers: 1-1, 3.72 ERA in four career regular season appearances and three starts. His most recent start against the Dodgers was also against Greinke, last October in Game Five of the NLCS in Los Angeles. Kelly allowed 4 earned runs in 5 innings on 7 hits in the Dodgers 6-4 win (which, of course, was their final victory in 2013).
Sunday, July 20
7:05 p.m. Central Time
Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.78 ERA) vs. Carlos Martinez (2-4, 4.43 ERA)
Kershaw vs. the Cardinals: 5-5, 3.43 ERA in 13 career starts. His most recent start was June 29, in the midst of his 41-inning scoreless streak and he allowed 5 hits and struck out 13. At least he walked 2 …
Martinez vs. the Dodgers: 0-1, 4.50 ERA in three appearances and two starts. He started the Cardinals 3-1 win on June 27 in L.A., although he lasted just 4 1/3 innings. He gave up the 1 run on 6 hits and struck out 4 while walking 3 and had no decision. (Seth Maness picked up the win.)
Cardinals team hitting: .252/.318/.372 (7th/5th/12th in NL)
Cardinals team ERA: 3.42 (6th in NL)
Dodgers team hitting: .258/.328/.398 (2nd/3rd/3rd in NL)
Dodgers team ERA: 3.29 (3rd in NL)
Cardinals team leaders
Batting average: Matt Adams, .329 (2nd in NL)
On-base percentage: Matt Carpenter, .377
Slugging percentage: Matt Adams, .532 (5th in NL)
OPS: Matt Adams, .876
Home runs: Jhonny Peralta, 14
RBI: Matt Holliday, 45
WAR – batting: Jhonny Peralta, 3.8 (7th in NL)
Stolen bases: Kolten Wong, 12
Wins: Adam Wainwright, 12 (1st in NL)
ERA – Reliever: Pat Neshek, 0.70. Starter: Adam Wainwright, 1.83 (2nd in NL)
Strikeouts: Adam Wainwright, 115 (10th in NL)
Saves: Trevor Rosenthal, 28 (2nd in NL)
WAR – pitching: Adam Wainwright, 5.0 (1st in NL)
Dodgers team leaders
Batting average: Yasiel Puig, .309 (7th in NL)
On-base percentage: Yasiel Puig, .393 (5th in NL)
Slugging percentage: Yasiel Puig, .522 (6th in NL)
OPS: Yasiel Puig, .915 (5th in NL)
Home runs: Adrian Gonzalez, 14
RBI: Adrian Gonzalez, 60 (3rd in NL)
WAR – batting: Yasiel Puig, 3.2
Stolen bases: Dee Gordon, 43 (1st in NL)
Wins: Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, 11 each (2nd in NL)
ERA – Reliever: J.P. Howell, 1.32. Starter: Clayton Kershaw, 1.78 (1st in NL)
Strikeouts: Zack Greinke, 127 (5th in NL)
Saves: Kenley Jansen, 27 (3rd in NL)
WAR – pitching: Clayton Kershaw, 4.2 (2nd in NL)
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not (last seven games)
Hot: Jhonny Peralta, .538
Peter Bourjos, .333
Matt Holliday, .308
Not: Oscar Taveras, .091
Matt Adams, .200
Matt Carpenter, .214
Tony Cruz, .214
Hot: Andre Ethier, .400
Yasiel Puig, .357
Scott Van Slyke, .300
Not: A.J. Ellis, .000
Miguel Rojas, .111
Carl Crawford, .143
Dee Gordon, .176