The St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals wrap up a quick two-game Interleague series on Wednesday night. St. Louis won the opener 2-0 and holds a 2-1 edge in games between the two teams this season.
One Step Closer
The Cardinals are now 62-55 this season, sitting in second place in the NL Central just one game back from the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals are in prime position to take the lead back in the division as they take on a weak Royals team while the Cubs deal with the Phillies on the road. Another thing that will play in the Cardinals favor is the players they have finally got back from the IL. Yadier Molina, Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Carpenter are all back and ready to put St. Louis in a good spot for October.
The Cardinals looked good pitching in their first game of the series and will look to repeat that with righty Dakota Hudson on the mound. The 24-year-old has been very solid for the Redbirds this year with a 10-6 record, 4.01 ERA and 93 strikeouts. In his last outing against the Pirates, he did not factor into the decision after allowing two runs over four innings.
As I mentioned before, the Cardinals should enjoy having a more complete roster with most of the IL being cleared up. They got some good support from young players while they were hurt and now should be fresh and able to attack the rest of August. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt has got on track and leads the team with 26 home runs. Kolten Wong leads with his .271 batting average, and Ozuna has the most runs batted in with 65.
Another Rough One
The Royals have had a rough season thus far, to say the least. They are now 43-77 after losing their last game against the Cardinals, where they could not get anything going and put up no runs. They are in fourth place in the AL Central, 29.5 games behind the first-place Twins. Kansas City is at home for this series where they don’t have much of an advantage with their 23-36 home record this season.
Scheduled to start for the Royals is 24-year-old Brad Keller. Keller is 7-12 this season with a 4.09 ERA and 112 strikeouts. Despite his record, Keller has put together a decent season and can get the team wins if they back him up with the runs they need. Any time he is on the mound, they have a chance to get a win, but if they can’t put more pressure on the Cardinals pitchers than they did in the opener, it will all be for nothing.
One positive spot for the Royals has been their rightfielder, Jorge Soler. Soler was acquired from the Cubs a few years ago as a promising young player, and he is now living up to those expectations. The 27-year-old is leading the team with 35 home runs and 87 runs batted in. He has also posted a .260 batting average and is truly having a breakout season.
What To Expect
Despite the Royals having power in the lineup and a good pitcher on the mound, the Cardinals are just a much better ballclub. Hudson should do a good job keeping the Royals quiet, and even if Keller has another good outing, I still think St. Louis walks away with the win.