With their postseason hopes dealt a serious setback following a sweep by a bitter rival, the St. Louis Cardinals try to pick up the pieces when they continue a nine-game road trip Tuesday night with the first of three against the Cincinnati Reds. St. Louis was swept by first-place Chicago to fall six games behind the Cubs in the National League Central.
Going from the first-place Cubs to the last-place Reds isn’t necessarily a panacea for the Cardinals, who are 7-9 against Cincinnati this season and sit 4 1/2 games in back of Colorado for the NL’s second wild card with 13 to play. “We didn’t give away games, we got beat,” St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn told reporters after Sunday’s loss in Chicago. “So we’ve got to win the next one and the next and the next one and the next one and hope that these guys don’t do that and the wild-card teams don’t do that.” St. Louis also has to overtake division rival Milwaukee but can’t afford a misstep against the Reds, who have won three straight after sweeping Pittsburgh over the weekend. Cincinnati has won seven straight overall at Great American Ball Park and is 5-2 at home against the Cardinals this season.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Jack Flaherty (0-1, 6.08 ERA) vs. Reds RH Jackson Stephens (2-0, 2.38 ERA)
Flaherty, promoted to the rotation when rosters were expanded on Sept. 1, remains in search of his first victory as he prepares to make his fourth major league start. A first-round draft pick in 2014, the 21-year-old took the loss last time out against Cincinnati after allowing three runs and four hits over 4 1/3 innings. Flaherty permitted one run in a season-high five innings at San Diego on Sept. 6.
Stephens won his only career start when he beat the Chicago Cubs on July 1 in his major league debut, striking out eight and allowing three runs and six hits over five innings. He was sent back to the minors after that start and was brought back earlier this month, pitching in relief while recording three scoreless outings. Stephens faced St. Louis in his last appearance and surrendered two hits over three innings.
1. Cardinals LF Tommy Pham is 12-for-37 with a homer and eight RBIs against the Reds in 2017.
2. Cincinnati 2B Scooter Gennett became the fifth player on the team to reach 25 homers, only the second time in club history that’s happened.
3. Cardinals CF Dexter Fowler was 4-for-8 against the Cubs over the weekend, but is only 6-for-29 versus Cincinnati this season.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 6, Reds 4