Atlanta Braves (51-61 SU, 59-53 RL, 57-51-4 O/U) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (58-56 SU, 54-60 RL, 56-51-7 O/U)
MLB: Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 7:15 p.m. EST
The Line: St. Louis -230/Atlanta +205. Total: 9
The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves will continue a three-game series when they meet again at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Saturday night. Atlanta is 4-13 in its last 17 contests, including a disastrous 0-6 against Philadelphia. The Cardinals had won five in a row heading into their series finale at Kansas City on Thursday.
Offense holding them back
The Braves limped into this series having lost 13 of their last 17 games, including being swept in two different series (six games total) by the last-place Phillies. They managed only two runs in another setback against Philadelphia on Thursday. Atlanta’s offense during this stretch has been the root of the problems. Since the all-star break, the Braves are tied for the third-fewest runs scored in the National League. In their last 13 losses, they have averaged 2.54 runs per game. Former Cardinal Matt Adams, traded to Atlanta in May, has cooled off since his hot start. He is batting just .213 since the break. Only one Braves hitter, Brandon Phillips, has an average over .300 during the proverbial second half of the season.
Right-hander Lucas Sims is taking the mound for Atlanta on Saturday. The 23-year-old is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA through the first two starts of his major-league career. Sims most recently faced Miami last Sunday, when he allowed four runs in six innings during a 4-1 setback.
Going, going, gone
Seven Cardinals had hit home runs in the team’s last five games heading into Thursday’s date with Kansas City. They continued to play long-ball at the Royals’ expense, as Dexter Fowler blasted a grand slam in the seventh inning–the 15th homer of his season. Jose Martinez and Yadier Molina have also hit grand slams during this six-game stretch, including Molina’s shot that took place one pitch after a stray cat had to be removed from the field at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals climbed above .500 for the first time since June 1 earlier this week and they now find themselves just one game behind the Cubs in the National League Central.
Carlos Martinez will oppose Sims on Saturday. The right-hander is 8-9 with a commendable 3.52 ERA so far this year. Four of his last five starts have been quality, and he was just one inning away (three runs allowed in five innings) in the only blemish during this stretch (a 3-2 loss at Milwaukee on Aug. 1). Martinez went eight innings and surrendered just two runs while striking out seven batters during an 11-3 rout of Kansas City on Monday.
The Atlanta Braves are:
- 3-10 in their last 13 overall
- 0-5 in their last five road games
- 2-6 in their last eight games against teams with winning records
The St. Louis Cardinals are:
- 6-0 in their last six overall
- 9-2 in their last 11 home games
- 5-0 in their last four games against right-handed starters
The in-form Cardinals have to like their chances in this one. Their bats have been working and the start of Sims’ MLB career is off to a bit of a shaky start. Meanwhile, the Braves’ bats have gone silent and there is no reason to think they will get on track against Martinez given how the veteran has pitched of late. Atlanta is 3-10 in its last 13 overall, 0-5 in its last five on the road, 2-6 in its last eight against winning opponents, and 0-4 in its last four against the National League Central. The Cardinals are 6-0 in their last six overall, 9-2 in their last 11 at home, 5-0 in their last five against right-handed starters, 20-7 in their last 27 against the National League East, and 7-2 in the last nine meetings between the two teams. Look for those trends to continue.