|After late night in Cincinnati, Reds visit Cardinals|
The St. Louis Cardinals, winners of five consecutive games, took a breather on Thursday ahead of resuming their homestand with the first of three games against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
The Reds, meanwhile, rode the pitching of Luis Castillo and the hitting of Eugenio Suarez to build a 3-0 lead at home against Atlanta on Thursday, then waited out a rain delay of more than 2 1/2 hours and survived a Braves rally to win 4-2. The game ended around midnight EDT.
Whether weary or wide awake on Friday, Cincinnati will be facing a St. Louis team that has found its offense. Just ask the Milwaukee Brewers, who were swept out of Busch Stadium in three games earlier this week by a 22-10 collective score.
Leading the way for the Cardinals were Paul Goldschmidt (six hits, one home run), Yadier Molina (five hits) and Dexter Fowler (five hits, four in one game, including a homer). Goldschmidt and Molina are riding hitting streaks of 11 and 12 games, respectively.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has also just got center fielder Harrison Bader back from a hamstring injury, so he has to settle playing time among Marcell Ozuna and Jose Martinez, who like Fowler have been rolling offensively, and the speedy and defensively superior Bader.
"The pieces on the board move, so you have to move with them and evaluate what you have," Shildt said. "I don't want to be vague about Friday's lineup, but I do recognize there's consideration to it, and consideration will be given."
The Reds will send Anthony DeSclafani to the mound in the opener, and he likely would have faced a challenge even without the Cardinals' recent success.
Matt Carpenter is 9-for-22 (.409) against the Reds right-hander, with three home runs among six extra base hits plus six walks. Ozuna is 5-for-14 (.357), including a double and a home run.
DeSclafani (0-1, 5.59 ERA) has faced the Cardinals once already this season, getting a no-decision after allowing four runs in four innings pitched, including a three-run homer to Ozuna in the first inning on April 14 in Cincinnati.
DeSclafani has a career record of 5-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 11 outings (10 starts) against the Cardinals, but he only 2-2 with a 4.32 ERA in five starts at St. Louis. He is coming off his longest start of the season, when he allowed only one run in six innings at San Diego in a game the Reds won 3-2 on April 19.
While he didn't get the win, it ended a string of the Reds losing eight straight games DeSclafani had started, dating back to last season.
"It felt for a little bit like I was the weakest link in this rotation," DeSclafani said. "I wanted to get out there and contribute, do my part."
The Cardinals' scheduled Friday starter, Miles Mikolas (2-1, 4.97 ERA), is also coming off his best game of the season. In a 10-2 win over the Mets on Saturday, he went eight innings and gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Mikolas, who was St. Louis' Opening Day starter, has gone at least five innings in all five of his outings, but he said it still "feels nice to know what the eighth inning looks like in 2019."
One of his five-inning games was at Cincinnati on April 14, when he allowed seven hits and four runs (three earned) in a no-decision. Three of the runs came on a Jesse Winker home run in a game the Cardinals won 9-5.
Lifetime against the Reds, Mikolas is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in six games, including four starts.
--Field Level Media