After a 5-5 stretch at Busch Stadium with the Astros and Cubs in town, the 58-50 Cardinals are opening up a five-game swing out in California. First stop is in Oakland, for a two-game series with the 62-48 Athletics.
At the start of play on Saturday, the Cardinals are at the top of the National League Central, followed by the Cubs and Brewers. In the American League West, the Astros are on top by a sizable margin; nonetheless, the Athletics are in the thick of the Wild Card race, along with the Indians and Rays.
After a mutual day off on Friday, the series opener on Saturday night will feature Mike Fiers and Dakota Hudson. The 34-year-old Fiers is in his first full season with the Athletics after four years with the Brewers, two with the Astros, and a chunk of the 2018 season with the Tigers before coming to Oakland. Fiers threw a no-hitter against the Reds back on May 7th, and 13 of his 14 starts since then have been quality. Dating back to June 22nd, Fiers has a 1.94 ERA across his last 46 1⁄3 innings . Fiers has held opponents to a combined .666 OPS this season, his lowest in over five years.
Hudson was touched for five earned runs against the Astros in his last start, a four-inning outing that was haunted by three home runs - hit by George Springer, Yordan Alvarez, and Jose Altuve. Hudson has held right-handed batters to a collective .251 average with eight homers this season. (Compared to a .304 and 11 long balls to left-handed batters, this is pretty good.) Matt Chapman leads the A’s with 24 homers, followed by Matt Olson with 21 and a trio of players - Mark Canha, Marcus Semien, and Khris Davis - with 17 apiece.
On Sunday, Tanner Roark will make his Athletics debut, and Adam Wainwright will pitch for the Cardinals. The Athletics acquired Roark from the Reds on Wednesday afternoon for an outfield prospect. Roark has made 21 starts this season and has boasted a career-best 8.8 K/9 rate. The Cardinals have some history with Roark after his six-plus seasons pitching in the National League. Paul DeJong has homered off the righty, while Dexter Fowler has a pair of doubles and Paul Goldschmidt is 5-for-20.
As for Wainwright, the 37-year-old held the Cubs to one run and whiffed five in 5 2⁄3 innings of work in his last start. In 10 starts on the road this season, Wainwright has a 7.16 ERA; for reference, he has a 2.26 in as many starts at home. Wainwright has allowed just two homers in his last 26 innings.
So, to recap:
Saturday, 8/3, 8:07 | Fiers vs. Hudson | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN
Sunday, 8/4, 3:07 | Roark vs. Wainwright | FSMW, KMOX, CRN
- Three Cardinals are continuing their rehab work in Triple-A this weekend. Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Marcell Ozuna are all in Memphis. The club will re-evaluate soon.