From one tough NL Central foe to another, after a rare off day on a Friday, the A’s will be playing a short two game set against the Cardinals. With 62 wins, the A’s enter this series just a half game out of a playoff spot, having cooled off somewhat after their months-long hot streak in the early summer. The team is biding its time before several different key players on both the pitching and hitting sides of the roster get healthy prior to the final playoff push during the last month of the season.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are in first place in the NL Central, currently ahead of the Cubs’ winning percentage by a whopping .001%. Since the last time these two teams faced each other, back in June when the A’s swept two games in St. Louis, the Cardinals have been on a hot streak and should be much stronger competition.
A big part of the Cardinals’ success of late has been because of the offense. While lacking in power, the Cardinals are stupendous at getting guys on base and stringing hits together to create sustained rallies and keep opposing pitchers under pressure. Since the All Star Break, Kolton Wong has been hitting .390/.464/.492 with five walks compared to four strikeouts. His 23 hits lead the team. Paul Goldschmidt, who took a long time to get started this year, is finally looking like his old self, as well. For what little power the team does have, Goldschmidt is providing the most, slugging .689 and leading the team with nine home runs since the All Star Break.
The boosted St. Louis offense has been picking up the slack for what has been a hit or miss pitching staff. One one hand, among their starters, Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty have been terrific for the last month. Mikolas has only walked four batters over his last thirty innings pitched, and has a sub-3.00 ERA during that stretch. Flaherty has struck out 39 batters in his last 31 innings, and has only allowed fifteen hits during that time. On the other side of things, Adam Wainwright and Dakota Hudson have failed to find consistency and have struggled to prevent runs. Despite his struggles, the Cardinals are still winning with Hudson on the bump, winning four of his last five starts.
The A’s swept the Cardinals the last time these two teams faced off, but the Cardinals of today are much stiffer competition than the Cardinals of June. The taxed A’s pitching staff will be put to the test, as will the catchers on the squad. The A’s offense will have the chance to put some runs on the board as the team is facing two struggling pitchers this series, but no victory is a given.
Tommy Edman - 3B
Jose Martinez - DH
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Marcell Ozuna - LF
Paul DeJong - SS
Kolten Wong - 2B
Dexter Fowler - CF
Matt Wieters - C
Yairo Munoz - RF
Mike Fiers vs Dakota Hudson
TBD vs Adam Wainwright
Game #112: Saturday, August 3rd at 6:07
Game #113: Sunday, August 4th at 1:07
Both games will be broadcast on NBCSCA. Saturday night’s game will be on MLB Network for those out of market.