After a rousing turn of events, the Cardinals find themselves still just one game behind the Giants and the Mets still ahead by 1/2 game. Can it get any better than this? Yes! But the team will have to look at its own ability to score runs. The Cardinals currently are 6th in the Majors in scoring, the Rockies are 2nd. The Cardinals have hit a lot of home runs (209), so has Colorado (192). The Rockies feature 2 of the best offensive players in the National League, hands down, in Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. And then there is DJ LeMahieu.
Blackmon, at age 30, is slashing .321/.381/.553 for the year with 27 homers and 16 steals. Arguably one of the best hitters in the NL, Blackmon causes problems for everyone including Cardinals pitchers. In 21 career games against St. Louis, Blackmon is .344/.361/.511.
LeMahieu brings another element to the table. Once thought of as a second rate middle infield utility player, LeMahieu (age 28) is hitting .348 and has an OPS of .912.
And this team still has Carlos Gonzalez enjoying a fine season although he is no longer a stolen base threat.
As far as starting pitchers the Cards will face this series: First up will be Tyler Anderson (5-5, 3.65) a low-90’s throwing lefty who could give Cardinals hitters fits. He uses his fastball well to both sides of the plate and mixes in changeup below the zone that righties will have to contend with. Like against a knuckleballer, the approach against Anderson should be, “If it’s high, let it fly.”
Tomorrow Jorge De La Rosa (8-8, 5.22) faces the Redbirds, a team he has fared well against in his career with an 8-4 record and a 4.32 ERA in 18 games against St. Louis. He doesn’t strike out very many but will induce plenty of fly ball outs.
Wednesday the Cardinals will face German Marquez, a 21-years old rookie right-hander from Venezuela, signed by the Rays in 2011. Marquez will be making his first start of the campaign after posting a 5.06 ERA in 3 appearances, walking 4 and striking out 3. In AA Hartford, who hadn’t played a home game all season, Marquez owned an impressive 8.4 K/IP ratio. At AAA Albuquerque, it remained 8.4 but his ERA ballooned from 2.85 to 4.35.
This is crunch time for the Cardinals. If they can win at least 2 of these games, holding the Rockies offense in check, maybe they can pick up a game or 2 heading into Chicago for the weekend.