The St. Louis Cardinals (5-1) and Cincinnati Reds (2-3) will close out a three-game National League Central series on Wednesday at the Great American Ballpark
St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis has won the first two games of this series and will aim for a sweep before returning home for a six-game homestand that starts Friday against the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals have managed to his 11 home runs and are hitting .310 on the season, which is quite surprising due to star first baseman Albert Pujols moving on to the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason. Third baseman David Freese has been tremendous in the early going, hitting .444 with three round trippers and 10 RBIs. St. Louis is 89-88 on the road the last two-plus seasons.
Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (1-0, 3.00 ERA) is set to make his second start of the 2011 campaign, registering an 11-5 road victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. The left-hander allowed just two runs and five hits over six innings of work, while issuing two walks and picking up three strikeouts. He has carried over his strong performance from Spring Training, as he finished with an even 1-1 mark and 2.79 ERA in five starts. Garcia has a career record of 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA in eight career starts (10 appearances) versus the Reds.
Cincinnati dropped a 3-1 contest on Tuesday night and the team is managing to hit just .201 on the season through five games. “We’ve got some guys struggling right now at the plate,” stated Reds manager Dusty Baker. The Reds have managed to score just one run in each of the first two games in this series, while combining for just seven hits. Shortstop Zack Cozart has found some success at the plate, hitting .471 with a home run and two RBIs thus far. Cincinnati is 91-68 against division opponents the last two-plus campaigns.
Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was magnificent in his season-opening start against the Miami Marlins at home, tossing seven shutout innings and surrendering just three hits. The right-hander fell just six innings short of qualifying for the ERA title in the National League a year ago, finishing with a 9-5 record and 2.31 ERA in 24 starts. He has garnered an even 4-4 mark and 4.94 ERA in 13 career starts versus the Cardinals, including a 1-1 record and 2.60 ERA in four outings a year ago.
Bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 4-1 record as an underdog, while the Reds are 3-7 in their last 10 games versus a left-handed starter.
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