Cardinals media, at least, seems to think the team has turned the corner on the Cubs:
The Cubs are fourth in the NL Central and 2.5 games behind the Cardinals, with 128 games left in their schedule. Regardless, at this time it’s more about how a team is playing than where they are in the standings. There’s no doubt Matheny’s crew hit the reset button quite well since the lousy 3-9 start.
"I don’t know if you could read too much into the standings right now," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "But the way we played the first two weeks of baseball, if we had played the whole year that way it would have been disastrous. You flip the calendar to now and we can breathe a little bit."
On the other hand, the Cubs won two of three in St. Louis to open the season and back then, at least, looked like defending champions should. I'd like to see more play like that this weekend.
Here are today’s particulars.
Schwarber LF, Bryant RF, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Candelario 3B, Contreras C, Baez SS, Butler P, Almora CF
Addison Russell, still out of the lineup tonight.
Fowler CF, Pham LF, Carpenter 1B, Gyorko 3B, Molina C, Díaz SS, Grichuk RF, Wong 2B, Leake P
Dexter Fowler, we all love you, but please have a series just like the one you had against the Cubs in April (3-for-13, all singles, five strikeouts).
Eddie Butler vs. Mike Leake
The last time Eddie Butler faced the Cardinals, September 20, 2016 at Coors Field, things did not go well. He was pitching in relief that day and gave up six hits while recording only four outs.
But this is the new Eddie Butler, or so we're told. As I noted yesterday, he threw well in spring training this year and also at Triple-A Iowa. All we can do is hope that success continues.
Mike Leake has made six starts this year, all of them good-to-excellent. He's leading the National League in ERA, ERA+ and FIP, and has allowed just one home run in 40⅓ innings.
The last time he faced the Cubs, September 23, 2016 at Wrigley Field, they hit him pretty hard: seven hits, three walks and five runs in 3⅓ innings. Current Cubs are hitting .266 (47-for-177) against him with four home runs, two of those by Anthony Rizzo, who is 15-for-40 (.375) against Leake in his career.
Let's hope that kind of hitting is in evidence tonight.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and St. Louis markets).
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