After posting back-to-back shutouts north of the border, the St. Louis Cardinals are looking to stay hot in a trip to the south.
It wouldn't be surprising to see another dominant pitching performance with Adam Wainwright on the hill Tuesday night against the major league-worst Tampa Bay Rays, who have gone 19 consecutive innings without scoring.St. Louis (33-31) had allowed an average of 5.2 runs in dropping eight of 10 before pulling out back-to-back 5-0 wins in Toronto. Jaime Garcia followed Shelby Miller's second career shutout with seven strong innings Sunday as the Cardinals improved to 4-6 in interleague play."That's a great display of what we're looking for and what we want to be known for and how we want to play," manager Mike Matheny told MLB's official website. "In order for a team to figure themselves out, which I still believe is what we're doing, you have to see all those components together to let yourselves know what the expectations are."Now, our responsibility is: How can we keep it (going) as long as we possibly can?"Sending Wainwright (8-3, 2.31 ERA) to the mound is a good place to start. The All-Star right-hander has gone 5-2 with a 1.68 ERA over eight road starts, yielding two runs or fewer in all but one of them.Wainwright carried a shutout into the ninth inning Wednesday at Kansas City before allowing two runs in a 5-2, 11-inning victory."He's an unbelievable pitcher," Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain said of Wainwright, who allowed four hits and struck out eight.In his only appearance against Tampa Bay, Wainwright surrendered four runs and a career high-tying 12 hits over 5 2/3 innings in a 9-8, 10-inning win May 17, 2008. He is 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA in his last eight outings against the AL.Wainwright would appear to have a favorable matchup against a Rays team that has averaged 2.5 runs and hit .225 while dropping 13 of 14. Tampa Bay (24-41) has gone 10 for 95 with runners in scoring position during that slide, including 0 for 7 in Monday's 3-0 loss to Seattle."It is tough to fathom what's going on here right now," losing pitcher David Price said. "It's very surprising where we're at right now this season. Our win-loss record. We probably do deserve it. We haven't played up to our capability or our standards, really. We're at the bottom of the entire major league."The Rays, who also lost 5-0 to the Mariners on Sunday, have never been shut out in three straight. Desmond Jennings is mired in an 8-for-41 slump and James Loney is 4 for his last 22. Loney leads the team with 30 RBIs but has two in the last 13 games."Do I believe we're going to get better? Absolutely," manager Joe Maddon said. "Can we turn this around? Absolutely."But for right now, if you're a baseball fan and you're watching us and you look at everything, you have to consider us the worst team. I want to believe that it's very difficult for a good group to go this bad this long and not turn it around."The Rays now turn to Jake Odorizzi (2-6, 5.31), who is 0-3 with a 6.16 ERA in his last four starts. The right-hander was particularly bad in losing to Boston and Miami in the last two, allowing nine runs and 13 hits in 8 1/3 innings.This marks Odorizzi's first appearance against St. Louis.The Cardinals are 6-3 against the Rays, but they haven't faced each other since 2011.
Adam Wainwright has allowed a .154 batting average against fastballs up in the strike zone this season, which is 73 points below the average among qualified pitchers. Matt Joyce is hitting .077 against fastballs up in the zone this year, which is 161 points below the league average among qualified batters.
Rays: shut out in 3 straight games for 1st time in franchise history