Corey Dickerson is beginning to find his All-Star swing and hopes to continue surging when the Tampa Bay Rays visit the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday for the middle contest of their three-game interleague series. Dickerson is 9-for-15 over his last four contests after recording four hits in Friday’s 7-3 victory by the Rays, who have won four of the first five contests of their nine-game road trip.
Dickerson batted .312 before the All-Star break but was hitting just .206 since before getting it going over the last four days for Tampa Bay, which is three games out in the race for the American League’s second wild card. Blake Snell goes after his third straight win for the Rays while St. Louis counters with Mike Leake, who has given up seven hits to Tampa Bay’s Lucas Duda in nine career at-bats. The Cardinals are going in the opposite direction with five losses in their last six contests and eight in 11, missing out again on a chance to make up ground while remaining 4 ½ games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central. Kolten Wong homered for St. Louis to extend his hitting streak to eight games - a stretch during which he is 14-for-35 with six RBIs.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays LH Blake Snell (2-6, 4.42 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Mike Leake (7-12, 4.16)
Snell has won his last two outings after a 16-start winless stretch and limited Seattle to two hits while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings on Sunday. The 24-year-old Seattle native has completed at least six innings in three straight starts and permitted three runs or fewer in seven of his last eight turns. Snell, who will be facing St. Louis for the first time in his career, is 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA in five interleague starts.
Leake is winless with a 9.26 ERA in his last five starts and gave up 14 runs on 17 hits and two walks over 7 1/3 innings in his last two trips to the mound. The 29-year-old Arizona State product faced Tampa Bay in 2011 while with Cincinnati, limiting the Rays to four hits over six scoreless frames of a victory. Wilson Ramos has gone deep twice against Leake, who is 6-11 with a 4.35 ERA in 29 career interleague starts.
1. St. Louis 1B Matt Carpenter returned to the lineup Friday after missing two games due to illness and went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
2. The Rays signed INF Danny Espinosa, who recently was released by Seattle and went 1-for-4 with a walk in his club debut on Friday.
3. Cardinals LHP Ryan Sherriff, a 27-year-old 28th-round pick, pitched three scoreless innings in the series opener and recorded four strikeouts in his major-league debut.
PREDICTION: Rays 6, Cardinals 4