The rubber match between the St. Louis Cardinals (33-46, 15-23 home) and the Houston Astros (43-37, 21-18 away) is in store Thursday night to decide the series winner. St. Louis took the opener on Tuesday with a 4-2 victory and Houston bounced back on Wednesday with a 10-7 triumph.
The first pitch of the series finale is at 7:15 p.m. EST inside Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Houston is the betting favorite (-115 moneyline) and the over/under total is 9.5 runs.
What to Know – Houston Astros
Houston is in game six of a nine-game road trip that began in Los Angeles at the end of last week. The Astros are 2-3 so far and sit in a tie for second place in the AL West.
Right-hander J.P. France (2-3, 3.54 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) is the expected starter for the Astros. The 28-year-old is looking to close out the month of June with a victory after posting back-to-back losses over his previous two starts. France, who joined the rotation at the beginning of last month, has made nine starts, throwing 53.1 innings, allowing 21 earned runs on 49 hits and 18 walks while striking out 42 batters.
On offense, the Astros are 18th in the majors hitting .246 as a team and averaging 4.5 runs per game. Houston’s pitching staff is second in the league with a 3.62 team earned run average.
With Yordan Alvarez on the shelf, Houston’s offense took a big hit but the Astros remain one of the top offensive teams in the majors. Alex Bregman has hit 11 home runs and driven in 49 runs while Kyle Tucker is right there with ten home runs and 44 RBIs.
What to Know – St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have put together a run toward the end of the first half, winning six of their last nine contests as the All-Star Break nears. St. Louis remains at the bottom of the NL Central, trailing the leading Cincinnati Reds by nine games.
Veteran starter Adam Wainwright (3-2, 6.56 ERA, 1.82 WHIP) gets the nod on the hill for St. Louis. The righty was tattooed for seven earned runs in three innings in his last outing. Wainwright has logged 46.2 innings over nine starts, surrendering 34 earned runs, 71 hits, walking 14 batters, and punching out 24 hittings.
The Cardinals’ offense ranks 15th in the MLB batting .251 collectively and scoring 4.7 runs per contest. The pitching staff for St. Louis is 22nd amongst league teams with a 4.46 team ERA.
Nolan Arenado is having another spectacular season at the plate for the Cardinals, leading the team with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs. Paul Goldschmidt is living up to his billing as well, adding 14 homers, 42 RBIs, and a .288 batting average.
The Pick is In
The offenses hold the advantage in this one against two mediocre pitchers. Expect both teams to exploit the starters and the deciding factor hinges on which bullpen can bend but not break. We believe that team is the Astros, who’ll hold on to win the series finale.
The Pick: Houston Astros ML