MLB Preview 2012: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Miami Marlins

The St. Louis Cardinals (38-35) and Miami Marlins (34-38) will open up a three-game National League series on Monday night at Marlins Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET

St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins 

St. Louis Cardinals OF Matt Holliday is swinging a hot bat in June

St. Louis earned a three-game sweep over the Kansas City Royals by capturing an 11-8 win on Sunday afternoon, scoring 30 runs and collecting 41 hits over the course of the series.  “We know we’re a good offensive team,” commented Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran.  “It’s good to see guys getting healthy and swinging the bat a lot better.”  Outfielder Matt Holliday has been swinging a hot bat, batting .347 over the course of the month.  The club has won six straight in this series, and owns a 46-27 advantage when playing in South Beach.  St. Louis is 8-1 in its last nine road games with a total of 9.0 to 10.5.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (6-6, 3.83 ERA) has won his last two starts, including a 3-1 complete-game victory on the road against the Detroit Tigers, allowing an unearned run and five hits.  The right-hander is 3-4 with a 2.93 ERA in seven road starts this year, with opposing hitters batting just .224 against him.  In four career starts versus the Marlins, Westbrook has tallied a 1-0 record and 2.96 ERA, issuing just three walks and striking out 25 in 27.1 combined innings.

Miami snapped a six-game losing streak in capturing a 9-0 home win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon, but the club has still dropped 15 of its last 18 games overall.  The Marlins offense definitely broke out, considering it scored more than five runs for the first time since May 25.  Pitching was a major problem for the squad heading into the series finale against the Blue Jays, posting a 5.30 ERA since May 10, which was actually the second-highest mark in the majors.  Miami is 7-2 in its last nine games against AL Central teams.

Marlins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco (6-6, 5.16 ERA) has lost his last three outings, including a 15-5 blowout loss on the road to the Boston Red Sox, surrendering nine runs and nine hits over 3.1 frames.  The right-hander has gone 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA in seven home starts, issuing 17 walks in 40 combined innings.  In seven career appearances (six starts) versus the Cardinals, Nolasco has gone 0-4 with a 6.19 ERA, allowing them to hit .354 against him.

Bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 4-1 record as a road favorite, while the Marlins are 2-10 in their last 12 home games.

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