Tampa Bay Rays (63-66 SU, 63-66 RL, 64-62-3 O/U) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (64-62 SU, 59-67 RL, 65-53-8 O/U)
MLB: Friday, August 25, 2017, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri, 8:15 pm ET
Lines: St. Louis -155, Tampa Bay +145; Over/Under: 9
It’s the start of an interleague series in the Gateway City between a pair of playoff hopefuls. The Tampa Bay Rays play the first of three games against the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night. Tampa Bay played the rubber game of their three game series at home against the Blue Jays, winning 2-0 Thursday to take the series. St. Louis played the rubber game of their three game set against the Padres at home Thursday night: they took a 6-2 victory Wednesday night. The Rays took three of the four meetings when the teams last met in 2014, including both games in St. Louis July 22-23, 2014.
Tampa Bay Rays Looking to Climb in AL Wild Card Race
Tampa Bay managed to pick up the win in the rubber game of their set with the Blue Jays to come into this one with a little momentum. The Rays have won three of four after dropping eight of nine immediately prior: they went into Thursday night’s action 3.5 games behind the Twins for the second wild card spot in the American League. Jesus Sucre and Evan Longoria each had two hits while Corey Dickerson (two runs, RBI) hit his 24th homer of the season in the win. Alex Cobb recorded a no-decision: he threw 4.1 innings, allowing no runs on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Steve Cishek (3-1) got the final two outs of the fifth for the win while Alex Colome worked the ninth for his 38th save of the season.
Jake Odorizzi is slated to make his 23rd start of the year in this contest. He hopes to put his injury woes behind him after missing a couple starts earlier in the year. Odorizzi is 6-7 with a 4.74 ERA, a 1.338 WHIP, 45 walks and 90 strikeouts over 108.1 innings of work. He took the loss in his last start, which came Saturday at home against the Mariners. Odorizzi threw 3.2 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits with five walks and two strikeouts in a 7-6 Tampa Bay defeat. He is 0-3 with a 6.59 ERA, a 1.83 WHIP, 10 walks and eight strikeouts over 13.2 innings in his last three starts. He makes his third career start against the Cardinals in this contest: he is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP over 13 innings of work. Odorizzi won his lone start at Busch Stadium, which came July 22, 2014: he threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in a 7-2 Tampa Bay win.
St. Louis Cardinals Battling in NL Playoff Picture
St. Louis came up with a win Wednesday to square their series with the Padres heading into Thursday’s finale. The Cardinals entered Thursday 4.5 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and an equal margin behind the Rockies for the second NL wild card. Kolten Wong (three runs) had three hits to lead St. Louis while Jedd Gyorko (two RBI) added two in the win. Luke Weaver (2-1) gave the Cardinals a shot in the arm with a sparkling outing: he threw seven shutout frames, allowing three hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts.
Michael Wacha takes the ball for his 19th start of the season for the Cardinals in this contest. He is 7-4 with a 3.93 ERA, a 1.311 WHIP, 32 walks and 100 strikeouts over 100.2 innings of work this year. Wacha had his seven start unbeaten string broken with a loss in his last start, which came against the Cubs on the road Sunday night. He threw six innings, allowing five runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts in a 5-3 St. Louis loss. Wacha is 1-2 with a 7.20 ERA, a 1.73 WHIP, five walks and nine strikeouts over 15 innings in his last three starts. He took the loss in his lone career start against the Rays, which came on the road on June 11, 2014. In that contest, Wacha allowed four runs on four hits with four walks and no strikeouts over five innings in a 6-3 Cardinals defeat. Wacha is 23-10 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.246 WHIP in 60 appearances, 54 starts, totaling 324.1 innings in his career at Busch Stadium.
- Rays are 4-1 in their last 5 games on grass
- Rays are 6-2 in their last 8 interleague road games vs. a team with a winning record
- Cardinals are 0-4 in their last 4 vs. American League East
This series could make or break the hopes of these teams as far as the postseason goes. Tampa Bay has won three of four after losing eight of nine: they need to keep stringing wins together to stay in the playoff picture. St. Louis has struggled at times since the All Star break and their pitching staff is extremely banged up. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on Wacha in this one: even with Odorizzi struggling, the Rays have enough in the bullpen to get the win.