The St. Louis Cardinals look to inch closer to a National League Central title when they wrap up a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon. It may seem like it’s been more than a three-game series considering the two teams played until the wee hours of Wednesday morning before Arizona pulled out a 3-2 victory in 19 innings.
The loss snapped St. Louis’ six-game winning streak and shrunk their lead in the NL Central to just 2.5 games over second-place Milwaukee. The Cardinals have already clinched a postseason berth, but they have a magic number of three to win the division title over the red-hot Brewers. Arizona, which was officially eliminated from the postseason race with its loss in the opener to this series, snapped a two-game losing streak with the win in which they twice came from behind to tie the game in their last at-bats.
The moneyline for this contest has the St. Louis Cardinals -115 and the Arizona Diamondbacks +105. The over/under for this game has been set at 9.
Needing To Be Better
The Cardinals send Michael Wacha to the mound for this one, with the 28-year-old needing to put in a strong effort to help the team’s bullpen get some rest after Tuesday night. Unfortunately, Wacha has lasted more than five innings just once in his last 13 starts. The right-hander comes into the game with a 6-7 record and hasn’t recorded a victory since July 19, going 0-3 since that date. Wacha has a 4.68 ERA and has struck out 101 on the season.
St. Louis has potential big bats throughout its lineup, but none seem to have any consistency. While the four-game sweep of the Cubs over the weekend was nice, all four of the wins came by one run, with the Cardinals needing to come from behind late in three of the four contests. That was followed by Tuesday night, when the only runs in 19 innings of play came on solo home runs by Dexter Fowler and Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt does lead the Cardinals with 33 home runs and 95 RBI and would certainly love to make it a home run in every game of this series in his return to play his former club.
Out But Still Fighting
You have to give the Diamondbacks credit. In their first game played after being eliminated from the playoff chase, they fought hard, getting runs in the bottom of the ninth, 13th and 19th innings to earn the marathon victory. Merrill Kelly gets the start for this one looking for his third straight shutout win. In each of his last two starts, he’s gone seven innings and given up no runs, holding San Diego and Cincinnati to a total of just five hits. Kelly is 12-14 on the season with a 4.31 ERA and has won three of his last four starts. He’ll likely go deep into this one, as he’s thrown at least 90 pitches in seven of his last eight starts.
Offensively, Arizona is without Ketel Marte for the rest of the season, but Eduardo Escobar continues to play well. He comes into this game on a four-game hitting streak and leads the Diamondbacks with 35 home runs and 118 RBI, which is good for third in the National League. Ildemaro Vargas had a huge game in Tuesday’s win, hitting a pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, then stroking an RBI single in the 19th to give the Diamondbacks the victory.
Cardinals Take Series
While Arizona showed a lot of fight in winning on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, they likely will have a little trouble getting back up for another game Wednesday afternoon. St. Louis, on the other hand, has something to play for, as well as a day off on Thursday, so they’re going to be able to find some more energy and drive for the series finale. I’m taking St. Louis -115 to get the win.