PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (49-52)
at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (61-37)
First pitch: Thursday, 7:15 p.m. ET
Line: St. Louis -160, Philadelphia +150, Total: 8
The red-hot Cardinals look to sweep away the struggling Phillies when the two teams complete their three-game set at Busch Stadium on Thursday.
Philadelphia has been outscored 25-8 during a four-game losing skid, which was extended in Wednesday's 11-3 thrashing by St. Louis. The Phils will turn to the pitcher who last won for them five games ago, right-hander Kyle Kendrick (9-6, 3.94 ERA). Although Kendrick outlasted the Mets in a 13-8 slugfest last Friday, he did not pitch effectively, allowing six runs on nine hits in just 5.2 innings of work. The Cards seek their sixth win in seven games, and will counter with struggling right-hander Lance Lynn (11-5, 4.13 ERA) who has allowed 10 runs in 9.1 innings over his past two starts. Philadelphia has been a poor road team this season at 23-31 (.426, 20th in MLB) with just 3.7 runs per game, while St. Louis is a hefty 31-17 (.646, 3rd in majors) at home with 4.7 runs per game. Overall this season, the Phillies are above average in hitting (.257 BA, 11th in MLB) and slugging (.402, 13th in majors), but have just 392 runs (23rd in MLB). They will still be without their best hitter OF Dominic Brown (concussion), who leads the club in homers (24), RBI (69), runs (51) and OPS (.847). The Cards have the best record in the majors at 61-37 (.622) and rank second in MLB in hitting (.278 BA) and are third in both scoring (492 runs) and getting on base (.340 OBP). During their 5-1 run in the past six games, they are averaging 6.7 runs per game with a .349 BA, .409 OBP and .462 SLG. St. Louis holds the 4-2 series advantage this season and a slight 7-6 edge over Philadelphia in the past three years.
Kendrick (1.28 WHIP) has performed pretty well this season with 13 quality starts in 20 outings, leading his team to a 12-8 record. But he has hit a rough patch over his past four starts, carrying a 6.08 ERA, 1.69 WHIP and a whopping .343 opponents' BA. Although his 4.29 road ERA is much higher than at home (3.58), Kendrick has had better control outside of Philly with a 1.25 WHIP, compared to a 1.32 WHIP at Citizens Bank Park. However, the right-hander has pitched very well in his career versus the Cardinals, going 5-1 (team is 6-1) with a 2.68 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. In his lone Busch Stadium start last season, he threw a seven hit shutout with zero walks and four strikeouts in his nine innings of work. And when he last faced St. Louis on April 21, Kendrick threw a quality start (6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K's) but got a no-decision in the 7-3 victory. OF Matt Holliday is the only current Cardinals player with more than 3 RBI in their career versus Kendrick, but Holliday is on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury. The right-hander hasn't had much trouble with C Yadier Molina (3-for-14, 2 K's) in his career, but Molina currently leads the National League in hitting with a .339 BA. All-Star 2B Matt Carpenter (1-for-3 with HR vs. Kendrick) is the fourth-best hitter in the NL (.326 BA), while 1B/OF Allen Craig (2-for-7 with HR vs. Kendrick) has 79 RBI, which ranks third in the league, and has hit .429 over his past 19 contests. All three of these players had at least two hits apiece during Wednesday's 16-hit attack, and both 1B Matt Adams and OF Shane Robinson had 3 RBI in the 11-3 thumping. Kendrick has averaged 6.5 innings per start this season, and going deep in games is always key with Philadelphia's subpar bullpen that has a 4.51 ERA and 1.52 WHIP this season. Phillies relievers are just 5-11 on the road.
Lynn (1.27 WHIP) has posted a 6.32 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over his past eight starts, but has generally been tremendous at home, going 7-1 (team is 8-2) with a 2.81 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 8.2 K/9. The team is 13-7 (.650) in all 20 Lynn starts this year, where he has fanned 116 batters in 122 innings of work (6.1 IP per start). The right-hander has just two career starts against Philadelphia, both on the road. He was smacked around for four runs in five innings last August, but was outstanding when he faced the Phils on April 20, allowing just one hit over seven shutout innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. No current Philadelphia player has more than five career at-bats versus Lynn, and the only one that has homered in these 41 collective plate appearances is 1B Ryan Howard, who is still on the disabled list with a knee injury. If Lynn gets into trouble, he has a decent bullpen to rely on (3.60 ERA, 1.24 WHIP). However, Cardinals relievers carry a 4.63 ERA and 1.35 WHIP at home this year, leading to a 4-7 record.