While the Cardinals (62-39) own the majors best record, they are on the verge of being swept on the road for the first time this season. Tonight on ESPN's Sunday night game of the week the Cards face the Braves (59-45) at Turner Field hoping they can avoid being swept in Atlanta for he first time in 10 years.
St. Louis leads the NL averaging nearly 5 runs per game and despite being considerably cooled in the first 2 games of this series they have an opportunity to salvage the finale of the 3 game series against a struggling Kris Medlen (6-10 3.78). Medlen has yielded 10 runs over his last 13 IP and most around the Atlanta organization feel that Fredi Gonzalez could demote him to the bullpen considering his stuff doesn't improve. This plays right into the hands of the St. Louis offense, who is hitting .275 collectively despite hitting just 83 HR all season. Yadier Molina (.332 8 54) is now tied for the NL lead in batting with Chris Johnson amidst some recent struggles. Allen Craig (.329 10 79) who is 2nd in batting is also 3rd in RBI's behind Brandon Phillips (81) and Paul Goldschmidt (85). Recently Carlos Beltran told sources that he would like to play 3 more seasons, and fortunately that hasn't slowed his production (.295 19 55) leading the Cards in HR although a new contract will have to be renewed in the offseason. Also stacking up the hitting frenzy is Matt Carpenter (.321 9 50) who places 4th in the hitting race and tops on the Cards with 125 hits. St. Louis also got some good news this weekend as Matt Holiday (.268 13 47) returned from a hamstring injury and went 1 for 4 in yesterday's 2-0 loss.
St. Louis counters with Shelby Miller (10-6 2.77) who is making his first career appearance against the Braves. Miller gave up just a run on 3 hits last week against Philadelphia and has yielded only 5 runs in his last 17 IP. Unbeaten in July, he faces a Braves lineup averaging 4.3 runs per contest and hitting a mendoza-like .250. Their overall attribute all season has been power, as evident by their league leading 125 HRs. Chris Johnson is second on the team with 101 hits at the hot corner fighting out the NL batting title. While Dan Uggla (.204 21 49) continues to struggle hitting his weight a'la Adam Dunn, he does lead the Braves in homers. His feast or famine approach is weary amongst teammates considering he's fanned 126 times in just 334 AB's. Justin Upton (.249 16 47) got off to a blazing month and a half then struggled throughout the latter part of May and June. Returning from a calf injury he's since turned it on again as of late. Freddie Freeman (.301 11 65) leads Atlanta with 65 RBI along with 102 hits always producing in the clutch. Gonzalez also moved up a struggling Jason Heyward (.220 8 22) to lead off Saturday with hopes of solving his season long struggles.
Tonight we get a decent price under the lights down South and the law of averages forecasts a better organized offensive display considering the first 3 games of this series has given the Braves pitching the edge. The Cardinals are due to have a breakout game and could take advantage given Medlen is once again ineffective. While Atlanta's offense had it's way against the Mets in the previous series, they will look to disrupt Miller's rhythm if the heavy hitters in the supporting cast can score a few runs early. Turner Field is not exactly a hitter's paradise, but there are advantages straight away and to right field if hitters can sit on their opposing pitcher's fast ball. Best of luck however you play!