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Series Preview 7/2-4: Cardinals at Diamondbacks

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It’s the Birds and the Snakes from the desert

MLB: Cleveland Indians at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing series over the weekend, the 42-40 Cardinals have traveled out west for the start of a three-city trip. Their first stop is in Phoenix for a three-game date with the Diamondbacks.

At the start of play Monday, the Cardinals sit 5 12 games back of the National League Central division-leading Brewers. The Cubs, riding a four-game winning streak, are only a half-game back of Milwaukee. In the NL West, the Diamondbacks hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers and Giants.

In Monday’s series opener, Arizona will send Robbie Ray to the mound to face St. Louis’s Carlos Martinez. First pitch is scheduled for 8:40 PM Central time. The left-hander Ray is making his second start since returning from an oblique strain and just his eighth of the year after being shelved in late April. Matt Carpenter has drawn three walks in nine career plate appearances, and Yadier Molina has doubled twice.

Martinez threw a quality start in his previous outing, the first such start since he returned from the disabled list on June 5. Facing the Indians, Martinez struck out eight batters while holding Cleveland to two runs in six innings. Martinez has a 4.61 ERA in five starts on the road this season.

Tuesday’s game, also an 8:40 start, will be started by Zack Greinke and Jack Flaherty. Greinke, over his last seven starts, has a 2.98 ERA with 41 strikeouts. In his last start, Greinke turned in seven scoreless innings against the Marlins. Greinke went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored and a run batted in. Greinke has been especially tough at Chase Field this season, with a 0.97 WHIP and a 50:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in eight starts.

Entering his Tuesday assignment, Flaherty has a 3.35 xFIP in 11 games and starts for the Cardinals. In the month of June, his first full month in the Majors, Flaherty had a 3.29 ERA in 27 13 frames across five starts. Flaherty allowed four earned runs in his first and last starts of the month but combined to allow just two in three starts in between. In the month, Flaherty fanned 37 batters and walked only nine.

On Wednesday, the 4th of July, Patrick Corbin and Miles Mikolas will take the mound. Wednesday’s game will start a bit later, at 9:10 PM. Corbin has been Arizona’s best starting pitcher, leading the team in almost every category - a 3.14 ERA, 134 strikeouts, and 106 innings pitched, to highlight a few. Jedd Gyorko is 5-for-14 facing Corbin, while Carpenter has struggled in the left-on-left matchup, with five whiffs and one hit in 10 at-bats.

Mikolas enters the series with the second-lowest WHIP in the National League, with his 0.99 mark trailing only Max Scherzer’s 0.85. (It’s worth noting that Corbin also has a 0.99 and is tied with Mikolas. This tie will probably break on Wednesday, though it’s tough to say in which direction.) Paul Goldschmidt and Jon Jay are the only Arizona batters with experience facing Mikolas; Goldschmidt is 1-for-2, and Jay is 1-for-4.