It’s the opener of an interleague set between a pair of geographical rivals in the Midwest. The St. Louis Cardinals are on the road as they travel to face the Kansas City Royals Friday night. St. Louis took the rubber game of their three game series against the Marlins, winning 7-1 on the road Wednesday night. Kansas City salvaged the finale of their three game interleague set at home against the Cubs, winning 9-0 Wednesday. The Royals took two of three in the first series between the teams, which was May 21-23 in St. Louis.
St. Louis Cardinals Looking to Stay in NL Playoff Picture
St. Louis won for the second straight game as they whipped Miami Wednesday night. The Cardinals improved to 60-55 on the season and trailed the Cubs by 6.5 games in the NL Central race along with four games behind the Braves for the second wild card entering Thursday. St. Louis got two hits from Yadier Molina (run, three RBI) and Kolten Wong (run) in the victory. Molina (his 15th) and Matt Carpenter (his 31st) each homered in the win. John Gant (4-4) earned the win as he threw six innings, allowing a run on two hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Rookie Austin Gomber takes the mound for his 20th appearance and third start of the season for the Cardinals here. He is 1-0 with a 4.10 ERA, a 1.367 WHIP, 14 walks and 23 strikeouts over 26.1 innings of work this season. Gomber recorded a no-decision in his last outing, which was a start on the road against the Pirates Saturday. He threw four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts in a game the Pirates won 8-4. Gomber has no record with a 5.23 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, five walks and 11 strikeouts over 10.1 innings in his two starts this season. He makes his first career appearance or start against the Royals in this contest. As a result, this marks the first time that Gomber pitches at Kauffman Stadium. Gomber is 7-3 with a 3.42 ERA, a 1.244 WHIP, 20 walks and 76 strikeouts over 68.1 innings in 12 appearances, 11 starts, for Triple-A Memphis of the Pacific Coast League this season.
Kansas City Royals Seek Back to Back Wins
Kansas City bounced back from being shut down in the first two games of the series against the Cubs as they rolled to a win in the finale. The Royals improved to 35-79 on the season and trailed the Indians by 28.5 games in the AL Central entering Thursday. Heath Dozier (two runs), Jorge Bonifacio (three runs, RBI) and Brett Phillips (two runs, RBI) each had three hits in the contest for Kansas City. Heath Fillmyer (1-1) picked up his first career big league win by tossing seven scoreless frames: he allowed three hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Burch Smith is on the mound for his 30th appearance and sixth start for the Royals this season in this contest. He comes in 1-3 with a 6.41 ERA, a 1.525 WHIP, 29 walks and 59 strikeouts over 59 innings of work this season. Smith took the loss in his last start, which came Saturday on the road against the Twins. He threw five innings, allowing six runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts in an 8-2 Kansas City loss. Smith is 1-2 with a 7.63 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP, seven walks and 14 strikeouts over 15.1 innings over his last three starts. He took the loss in his lone outing against the Cardinals, which came in relief on May 22, 2013 at Petco Park while with the Padres. Smith allowed four runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout in one inning of a 5-3 San Diego loss. He is 1-0 with a 5.70 ERA, a 1.433 WHIP, 14 walks and 29 strikeouts over 30 innings in 15 career appearances, one start, at Kauffman Stadium in his career.
- Cardinals are 4-0 in their last 4 road games vs. a right-handed starter
- Cardinals are 4-0 in their last 4 when their opponent scores 5 runs or more in their previous game
- Cardinals are 5-0 in their last 5 when their opponent allows 2 runs or less in their previous game
- Royals are 1-5 in their last 6 interleague home games vs. a team with a winning record
- Royals are 1-7 in their last 8 interleague home games
- Royals are 1-10 in their last 11 games vs. a left-handed starter
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Cardinals are trying to stay in the NL wild card race as they are only on the fringes of the NL Central picture with only three games remaining against the Cubs. Having a three game series against the struggling Royals is a nice opportunity for the Cardinals to put together a little bit of a winning streak. Kansas City is struggling and Smith has not pitched well this season. Gomber hasn’t pitched much in the majors as a starter but he should help St. Louis get the upper hand in this contest.
Prediction: Pick: St. Louis Cardinals -161
Full-Game Total Pick
St. Louis is trying to get by despite Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Alex Reyes all missing from what would potentially be their starting rotation. The Cardinals lost Dexter Fowler to a broken foot while Tyler O’Neill is battling a groin injury. On the flip side, the Royals have nothing to play for and they continue to deal with injuries and struggling bats. The issue for Kansas City is the fact that their window pretty much slammed shut as far as contention goes and one wonders how many more pieces will be dealt during the offseason.
The under is 3-0-1 in the Cardinals’ last 4 road games, 3-0-1 in their last four on grass, 3-0-1 in their last four overall, 9-2-1 in their last 12 interleague road games against teams with a losing record and 11-3-1 in their last 15 interleague games. Kansas City has seen the under go 5-0 in their last 5 interleague home games vs. a team with a winning record, 4-0-1 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning record and 14-2 in their last 16 interleague games. Given the fact that the Royals struggle offensively and the Cardinals are inconsistent, this one stays under the total.
Prediction: Under 9.5
Full-Game Prop Bet
St. Louis knows that if they want to remain in the NL playoff picture, they have to take advantage of games against mediocre opponents. They don’t come much worse than the Royals, who have nothing to play for at this point in time and are merely marking games off the schedule waiting for the end of the season to arrive. Smith gave up four runs in one inning in his lone career appearance against the Cardinals. He may have improved since then, though the numbers don’t necessarily bare it out: look for this one to go over.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals Over 5 -110
First Five Innings Side Pick
This goes back to the Royals’ inability to string together much in the way of consistent offense. They beat the Cubs Wednesday but the majority of that offense was poured on late in the contest with three in the seventh and four in the eighth, which was aided by Tyler Chatwood’s continuing inability to throw strikes. You can’t expect them to put up high run totals. Against a guy they’re completely unfamiliar with, you have to figure St. Louis, with something to play for, has the edge halfway home.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals -150
First Five Innings Total Bet
Both teams are facing a pitcher that there isn’t a ton of familiarity with in this contest. St. Louis has seen Smith just once live and that was five years ago, while Gomber has never faced the Royals. When the high powered Cubs were in town earlier this week, we saw two low scoring affairs before the romp on Wednesday. With St. Louis’s offense being reliant on the long ball more than anything, this one likely falls under the total.
Prediction: Under 5 -105
First Five Innings Prop Prediction
With the way Matt Carpenter has been swinging the bat since the All Star break (hitting .354 with 12 homers in 20 games), it could take just one swing for the Cardinals to jump on the board in the opening inning. With that said, Kansas City’s lineup isn’t brimming with power potential, which makes it a little more challenging to get on the board. The Cardinals have the ability to strike quickly and they should be able to get on the board first in this contest.
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals to Score First -185