The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays are set to play the second game of their weekend series Saturday at Tropicana Field
St. Louis Cardinals at Tampa Bay Rays
St. Louis collected a 5-3 victory Friday night over Tampa Bay and moved its interleague record to 8-5 on the season. The Cardinals rank first among National League teams with a .535 winning percentage against American League opponents. The club has now won four straight after dropping 12 of its previous 15 games. With the recent run, the team has been able to hold onto the top spot in the NL Central race depending on Milwaukee’s result against Minnesota. St. Louis has enjoyed nothing but success at Tropicana Field, winning all four games at the domed structure, including a three-game sweep in June 2005.
Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle McClellan is 6-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) this season. The right-hander is searching for his first win since May 19, as he’s lost his last three decisions. McClellan was handed a 5-0 home loss to the Blue Jays last time out, giving up five runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. He is 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA in one career interleague start, while posting an 0-3 record and 4.55 ERA in 21 relief appearances versus the American League. The 27-year-old has tossed just one relief inning against the Rays, allowing one run and a single hit while issuing two free passes.
Tampa Bay has a losing 19-21 mark at home this season and is 5-7-1 in series play when hosting opponents. The Rays have struggled mightily offensively in St. Petersburg, averaging just 3.10 runs per contest versus 5.24 runs a contest on the road. Last night certainly didn’t change things in collecting just two hits off of opposing starter Jake Wesbrook, ending the contest with three runs on five hits. The club is now 1-3 on its six-game homestand, hitting .147 with runners in scoring position in the last 10 home games. Tampa Bay is still a solid 10-6 during interleague action, ranking fourth in the majors with 75 runs scored in those contests.
Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann is 2-4 with a 5.58 ERA in eight starts this season and will be pitching at home for the first time since May 4. The right-hander received a no-decision in his last outing, giving up five runs and seven hits in just three innings of work, as Tampa Bay picked up a 14-10 road win over Houston. Niemann is winless in four home outings, producing an 0-3 mark and 6.65 ERA, as opponents are hitting .319 against him. He has been solid during the month of July in his career, going 5-2 wit ha 3.79 ERA in 10 outings (nine starts).
Bettors will be interested in backing the Cardinals due to their 4-1 mark as an interleague underdog, while the Rays are 2-5 in Niemann’s last seven tries as a favorite