The reeling St. Louis Cardinals will try to revive their fading playoff hopes when they host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
The Cardinals fell two games below .500 while suffering a messy three-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves.
“You have competition, and if you lose, you lose,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said after Thursday night’s 8-4 loss. “If you feel like you beat yourself, that’s a different feeling.”
The Cardinals fell 11 1/2 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central and eight games behind the San Diego Padres for the second wild-card spot.
“We’ll show up tomorrow, I can tell you that,” Shildt said. “This is a group that cares and is going to compete. We can’t take care of the next couple of series unless we take care of tomorrow.”
The Cardinals will start right-hander Adam Wainwright (9-6, 3.53 ERA) in the opener of the three-game interleague series at Busch Stadium. He has completed seven innings in each of his past three starts while allowing six runs on 16 hits. He has struck out 18 and walked only three during that span.
Wainwright is 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA in 14 career appearances against the Royals, including 11 starts. Whit Merrifield (5-for-12 with a double), Ryan O’Hearn (3-for-6, homer, two RBIs) and Salvador Perez (3-for-8, RBI) have hit well against him.
The rebuilding Royals enter this series after winning two of three road games against the first-place Chicago White Sox.
Kansas City will start veteran left-hander Mike Minor (8-9, 5.31), who is coming off a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 31. He struck out six in that game in seven innings, but he allowed four runs on five hits — two of them homers by George Springer.
“I was happy with my performance,” Minor said. “I feel like Springer might’ve had the only two hard-hit balls that I remember. There might’ve been some decent ones on the ground, but I can’t really remember anybody that squared me up. That’s the frustrating part of it, that I go seven innings but I give up four runs.”
But Minor won his two starts before that while striking out 12 and allowing just three earned runs on eight hits in 12 innings. He credited a nine-day midseason break between starts for helping him refresh.
“Mechanics, fatigue, not feeling good when you’re out there — that plays a role in what pitches you might throw, what pitches might not be breaking like they should be with the arm speed and stuff like that,” Minor said. “The (time) off gave me a little break, kind of a reset. I’ve felt a lot better the last three starts, and I think that shows.”
Minor is 2-2 with a 5.93 ERA in seven career appearances against the Cardinals, including five starts. Matt Carpenter (7-for-12, two doubles, homer, two RBIs), Paul Goldschmidt (3-for-6, double, homer) and Nolan Arenado (2-for-6, RBI) have hit well against him.
Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi was sidelined again Thursday with a shoulder injury but could return to the lineup this weekend. Royals manager Mike Matheny said Benintendi has ramped up his baseball activities.
–Field Level Media