St. Louis right-hander Miles Mikolas will look to exploit his home-field advantage when the Cardinals face the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
The Cardinals (84-59) have won three of their past four games heading into the five-game series in St. Louis, where Mikolas is 6-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 13 starts this season.
St. Louis leads the National League Central by eight games over the Milwaukee Brewers (76-67).
The Cardinals are also 4 1/2 games back of the New York Mets (89-55), so they are within range of the NL East leaders in the race to earn a bye from the wild-card round.
“Everybody in that clubhouse right now is going to make sure they have the mentality and overall drive to win every game and we’ll see where we land,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Looking forward to it.”
Mikolas (11-11, 3.42 ERA) has allowed four or more runs in three of his past four starts overall, but he insists fatigue is not an issue.
“I’m feeling great,” he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’m in the best shape of my life. Getting up to 180 innings … I’m just getting going.”
Mikolas, 34, is coming off an 8-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday, when he allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings.
“I was a lot in the zone tonight,” he said postgame. “Defense made some great plays, got me out of it. Kind of saw one tough pitch there in the fifth.”
That one pitch resulted in Oneil Cruz’s two-run triple.
Mikolas is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three starts against the Reds this season. He is 3-4 with a 5.55 ERA in 15 career appearances vs. Cincinnati, including 13 starts.
Jonathan India (4-for-11, two homers, three RBIs), Chuckie Robinson (1-for-2, homer, two RBIs) and TJ Friedl (1-for-2, homer) have hit well against him.
The Reds (56-86) ran their losing streak to six games while enduring a four-game sweep against the Pirates to begin the week. Pittsburgh capped the series with a 10-4 win on Wednesday.
“We know we’re capable of playing better,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “It was just a tough series. We’ve been here before.”
The Reds will open the St. Louis series with Chase Anderson (0-3, 9.00 ERA), who has allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings in his two outings this month.
Anderson, 34, faced the Cardinals twice last month and yielded eight runs (seven earned) on five hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. He allowed a solo homer by Tyler O’Neill and a two-run shot by Lars Nootbaar in those games.
He is 2-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 16 career appearances against the Cardinals, including 13 starts. Anderson has struggled against Nolan Arenado (8-for-29, double, four homers, 10 RBIs), Albert Pujols (2-for-4, no homers, two RBIs) and Tommy Edman (1-for-2, double, two RBIs).
After filling in for Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina earlier this season, veteran Austin Romine has helped the injury-depleted Reds pitching staff navigate the stretch run. Cincinnati acquired him from St. Louis on Aug. 2 after catcher Tyler Stephenson suffered a broken clavicle.
“You have to give credit to Romine,” said Reds pitcher Nick Lodolo, who fanned 11 while through 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball on Wednesday. “The guy, whatever I’ve got that day, he finds a way to get me through it.”
–Field Level Media