The Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals continue an interleague series Saturday night at Busch Stadium
Toronto Blue Jays at St. Louis Cardinals
Toronto snapped its four-game losing streak last night with a 5-4 win in St. Louis, as outfielder Jose Bautista launched his major league-leading 23rd home run in the ninth inning. “The last couple of days, I’ve been feeling like I’m a little more on time consistently,” Bautista commented. “After that it’s just getting a good pitch to hit.” The Blue Jays offense had managed just three runs and 18 hits over the previous 36 innings before Friday’s 12-hit performance. The club is now 20-21 on the road this season and a solid 28-18 in night contests.
Blue Jays starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva was handed his first loss of the season versus the Reds last time out, but surrendered just two runs and seven hits in seven strong innings in that contest. Toronto has proven victorious in five of his last six starts. The right-hander has tallied an impressive 3-1 record and 2.52 ERA in 10 road appearances (four starts), as opponents are hitting just .177 against him. In 24 career games (six starts) versus the Cardinals, Villanueva enters with a 4-3 mark and 3.11 ERA, issuing 24 walks and compiling 46 strikeouts in 63 2/3 frames.
St. Louis fell to second place in the National League Central race with Friday’s loss and has now dropped three of four games since losing first baseman Albert Pujols to the disabled list with a wrist fracture. “We show up every day and expect to win,” Cardinals relief pitcher Mitchell Boggs stated. “It didn’t happen today, but it’s not going to change the way we approach Saturday.” One player that has stepped up his offensive performance in Pujols’ absence is infielder Skip Schumaker, who is hitting .340 with four multi-hit games since June 5. St. Louis is 22-15 during interleague play over the last three years and 31-25 against right-handed starters in 2011.
Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia is 6-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 15 starts this season and has become one of the best home pitchers in all of baseball. The talented left-hander brings in a perfect 4-0 mark and 0.81 ERA in six outings at Busch Stadium, as opponents are hitting .169 against him. Garcia made a start against the Blue Jays during interleague action last year, earning a win, allowing three runs in six innings. He has bounced back from mediocre May, posting a 1-1 record and 2.96 ERA in four starts this month.
Bettors will likely back the Blue Jays due to their 5-1 mark in Villanueva’s last six starts, while the Cardinals are 0-4 in Garcia’s last four Saturday outings