The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals might be postseason longshots at the moment, but neither should have trouble getting motivated for this week’s four-game series.
The visiting Cubs look to continue their season success over the Cardinals on Monday night.
St. Louis was eight games over .500 on May 29, but is 16-25 since then. Chicago was nine over and tied for first in the NL Central on June 24, then lost 11 in a row.
Both enter this set with 46-47 records, and half of their eight 2021 meetings have been decided by three or fewer runs. The Cubs, however, are 6-2 against the Cardinals this season, and took two of three at St. Louis in May.
Chicago is 4-3 since that season-high skid, and just took two of three at Arizona over the weekend.
“We’re looking forward to playing better baseball,” said Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, who batting .310 in his last 13 games.
“We’re looking forward to competing and competing to the last out. … When we’re competing, we’re tough to beat.”
While Contreras is hitting .148 with 13 strikeouts versus St. Louis this season, teammate Javier Baez has hit safely in six of his seven games against the Cardinals. With two hits and two RBIs during Chicago’s 6-4 loss to the Diamondbacks on Sunday, Baez is hitting .438 with 10 runs batted in during his eight-game hitting streak.
Contreras has belted two solo homers off scheduled St. Louis starter Jake Woodford (1-1, 4.62 ERA), who will be called up from Triple-A Memphis to make his second career start, and first this season. The right-hander has made 17 appearances this season for St. Louis, but is slated for the rotation in the immediate future.
“Woody is ready to go. He’s got a full complement,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
In addition to Contreras, Woodford also yielded a solo homer to Sergio Alcantara this season. He has allowed those three runs over 5 1/3 innings over three career relief appearances against the Cubs.
Despite their overall standing, St. Louis has won 10 of its last 14 at home after taking the final two of a three-game set against San Francisco over the weekend.
“Want to win them all, for sure, always do,” Shildt said. “Just go out and play good baseball. It adds it up. … Win series. Win all the series we can.”
With a homer during Sunday’s 2-1 win over San Francisco, St. Louis’ Paul DeJong is 10-for-18 with three home runs and five RBIs over his last six games. Teammate Paul Goldschmidt is batting .412 during a 13-game hitting streak.
However, DeJong and Goldschmidt are a combined 0-for-10 with five strikeouts against scheduled Cubs starter Alec Mills (4-2, 4.84 ERA), who is 0-1 with a 4.67 ERA in five appearances – including three starts — against the Cardinals dating back to 2018. This will be Mills’ first 2021 outing versus St. Louis.
The right-hander last pitched on July 7, when he allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings of an 8-3 victory over Philadelphia.
St. Louis’ Tommy Edman is 2-for-24 in his last seven games, but 6-for-7 with two doubles lifetime versus Mills.
–Field Level Media