Tampa Bay Rays (63-66 SU, 63-66 RL, 64-62-3 O/U) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (64-63 SU, 59-68 RL, 65-54-8 O/U)
MLB: Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 7:15 p.m. EST
The Line: OFF. Total: OFF.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays will resume a three-game series when they meet again at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Saturday night. Tampa Bay had won three of its last four outings heading into Friday’s series opener. The struggling Cardinals have not taken a series since Aug. 11-13 against Atlanta.
Kiermaier to the rescue
The Rays are showing signs of life in their quest to stay in the American League wild-card race and they are in the midst of a nine-game road trip that could determine their fate. Tampa Bay, which will also face Kansas City and the White Sox during this trek, has won three of its last four contests following a 2-0 victory over Toronto on Thursday. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier’s return from the disabled list has been a big factor. Kiermaier is 10-for-25 with three homers, six runs scored, and six RBIs in six games since coming back from a hip injury and the former Gold Glove winner made two crucial running catches to preserve Thursday’s shutout.
Left-hander Blake Snell is taking the mound for Tampa Bay on Friday. Snell is 2-6 with a 4.42 ERA through 17 starts in 2017. The 24-year-old has improved of late, as his ERA was as high as 5.36 in early July and 4.98 in early August. He has allowed more than three runs only once in his last eight outings and even then he gave up just four in six innings of work and picked up a win over Toronto. Snell most recently faced Seattle last Sunday, when he hurled seven innings of shutout ball while yielding just two hits and striking out eight batters.
Leake leaking oil
The Cardinals have dropped four of their last five and lost a chance to make up ground on the National League Central-leading Cubs on Thursday, remaining 4.5 games behind. St. Louis also sits five game out of the NL’s second wild-card spt. Kolten Wong and Yadier Molina both extended their hitting streaks to seven games during Thursday’s 4-3 loss to San Diego. Matt Carpenter, who is eight at-bats shy of 3,000 for his career and five RBIs away from 400, is day-to-day after missing two games due to illness.
Mike Leake will oppose Snell on Saturday. The right-hander is 7-12 with a 4.16 ERA so far this season. Unlike Snell, Leake’s trajectory is downward at the moment. He has lost each of his last two starts and has surrendered 14 runs in just 7.1 innings of work during this stretch. The 29-year-old has delivered only one quality start in his last five outings.
The Tampa Bay Rays are:
- 4-1 in their last five games on grass
- 5-1 in their last six games against St. Louis
- 4-0 in Snell’s last four starts
The St, Louis Cardinals are:
- 1-4 in their last five overall
- 1-4 in their last five games against teams with losing records
- 0-4 in their last four games against the American League East
The Rays, who have not been to St. Louis since 2014, are 5-1 in their last six against the Cardinals. Third baseman Evan Longoria is 6-for-17 with three extra-base hits and two RBIs during a four-game hitting streak. Tampa Bay is 4-1 in its last five on grass, 4-0 in Snell’s last four starts, and 5-1 in the last six meetings between the two teams. The Cardinals are 1-4 in their last five overall, 1-4 in their last five against losing opponents, and 0-4 in their last four against the American League East. Expect those trends to continue.