|Goldschmidt faces former team as Cards host D-backs|
Paul Goldschmidt spent most of the last decade as the face of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He confronts his former franchise for the first time when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Diamondbacks on Friday to start a three-game series between teams in the thick of the National League wild-card race.
"The record is what it is because that's how we've played," Goldschmidt told MLB.com about the Cardinals' 44-44 mark. "We've played .500. If we want to make the playoffs, we're going to have to play better in the second half. Hopefully we'll come out and do it, starting on Friday."
Part of the formula for the Cardinals to have second-half success is for Goldschmidt to get hot.
The 31-year-old first baseman is hitting. 254 with 16 home runs and 37 RBIs in 88 games.
Other than the home runs, his numbers are down across the board. The batting average would be his lowest since he played in 48 games as a rookie for Arizona in 2011, and he has a mere nine doubles after hitting at least 33 in each of the past seven seasons. He failed to reach the All-Star Game after six consecutive appearances.
That's not to put all of the Cardinals' mediocrity on Goldschmidt -- who signed a five-year, $130 million extension after the offseason trade -- but he will definitely be in the spotlight in the Arizona series.
"It's going to be a little bittersweet for me," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of facing Goldschmidt. "Obviously we were very close. May put the voodoo whammy and try to do something extra malicious to have him get no hits over three games. I always wish him the best."
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina (thumb) was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday while third baseman Matt Carpenter (back) was activated.
Arizona, which swept a three-game home series against the Colorado Rockies before the All-Star break to get to 46-45, made out OK in the Goldschmidt trade. Starting pitcher Luke Weaver was effective (4-3, 3.03 ERA) before suffering a right forearm strain in late May, and catcher Carson Kelly is hitting .276 with 10 homers in 174 at-bats.
Moreover, the move cleared the way for one of Arizona's first-half standouts -- first baseman Christian Walker, who is hitting .263 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Arizona, though, has been treading water this season, and this series could help point the way toward whether the Diamondbacks are buyers or sellers at the July 31 trade deadline.
"It's a tough stretch right now that could really define where we should be or need to be going into the trade deadline," team president and CEO Derrick Hall said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The Cardinals will open the second half with right-hander Adam Wainwright (5-7, 4.31 ERA). His last start was at Seattle on July 3, when he allowed two runs in five innings, getting a no-decision in a 5-2 victory. He is 8-5 with a 2.95 ERA in 15 career appearances (12 starts) against Arizona.
The Diamondbacks will go with left-hander Robbie Ray (6-6, 3.96). Although he often struggles with his control, he strikes out 11.78 per nine innings, the fifth-best mark in the majors. Ray is coming off a win over the Rockies on Saturday, when he allowed one run and two hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking five.
Ray has made five career starts vs. the Cardinals, with a 1-3 record and a 6.10 ERA.
--Field Level Media