The Chicago Cubs begin a three game series against the division-rival Cardinals tonight in St. Louis. The Cubs look to bounce back from a 12-1 road loss to the Phillies yesterday that saw starting pitcher Jeff Samardjiza give up a career-high 11 hits with nine earned runs in only 31/3 innings. Last night’s loss was their sixth in seven games to start the month of August.
The Cardinals enter the series having dropped three of four to the Dodgers at Busch Stadium to find themselves four games back of the division-leading Pirates. St. Louis has a three-game advantage over Cincinnati for the first NL Wild Card spot.
Tonight’s starting pitching matchup features Chris Rusin (1-1, 3.98 ERA) for the Cubs and Lance Lynn (13-5, 3.78 ERA) for the Cardinals. The left-handed Rusin will be making his fifth start of the season and his fourth straight start since replacing Matt Garza in the Cubs rotation on July 22. Rusin seems to have earned a permanent spot in the rotation for the rest of the season after having two impressive starts in late July. Despite taking the loss to a streaking Dodgers team August 1, Rusin has been a solid addition to the Cubs staff.
Lynn’s 13 wins are tied for the most among NL pitchers this season along with teammate Adam Wainwright and Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann. The right-handed Lynn is coming off arguably his best start of the season Sunday in Cincinnati, where he struck out 11 and allowed only two earned runs over eight innings in a 15-2 Cardinals win.
Players to look out for include third baseman Donnie Murphy, who has homered three times in the four games he’s played since being called up by the Cubs. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz will not be in the Cubs lineup tonight and will be replaced by Cole Gillespie in right field. Schierholtz provided the Cubs with their only run in yesterday’s loss to Philadelphia when he hit a solo home run.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina remains on the DL but he was able to hit in the batting cage Friday for the first time since sustaining his injury last month. Luckily for the Cubs, he will not be eligible to come off the DL until next week. Second baseman Matt Carpenter has recorded four multi-hit games in his last five games as he continues to lead the Cardinals with 134 hits this season.
Carlos Villanueva (2-8, 4.16 ERA) takes the mound Saturday against Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha (1-0, 4.58 ERA in three starts). Sunday’s pitching matchup sees Edwin Jackson (7-12, 4.96 ERA) faceoff against Joe Kelly (3-3, 2.98 ERA).