St. Louis (73-53) returns home and looks to avenge a series sweep last month at the hands of Atlanta (77-49) where the Cards managed just 3 runs throughout the period. The Braves, who hold the best record in baseball will be without Jason Heyward (.253 13 37) who suffered a broken jaw from a Matt Harvey fastball yesterday and is likely to miss the rest of the regular season. Justin Upton (.269 23 62) who leads the club in HR will also be out this evening suffering from back problems listed day-to-day.
St. Louis sends Joe Kelly (4-3 3.01) to the mound this evening looking to extend on a personal 4 game winning streak after dropping his first 3 decisions. Kelly went 6 scoreless innings against the Cubs last week and allowed just 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6. This evening Kelly faces a Braves lineup that while seemingly depleted due to injuries can still pick up key winning hits with the game on the line. The Braves are hitting .253 averaging just under 4.5 runs per contest while hitting an NL leading 149 HR. Chris Johnson (.332 10 57) is second in the NL in hitting and crushed a big 3 run HR in the top of the 10th with 2 outs for a 4-1 win over the Mets at CitiField. Freddie Freeman (.314 15 83) leads the Bravos in RBI and went 3 for 5 in yesterday's win. Andrelton Simmons (.246 11 43) also collected 3 hits and has been a pleasant surprise showing ample range at shortstop. The Braves are hopeful that Brian McCann (.271 18 47) will be back in the lineup after a few days rest to pick up some of the slack due to injury. Dan Uggla (.186 21 53) underwent LASIK surgery last week and is eligible to come off the DL next week. Justin's brother BJ Upton (.183 8 21) continues to endure a nightmare season with 121K's in just 322 AB's.
Atlanta counters with Paul Maholm (9-9 4.41) who comes off the DL for the first time since July 20th after suffering from a wrist injury. Maholm has lost his last 3 starts with an ERA over 9.00 yielding 15 ER over his last 14 IP. He'll face a Cardinals lineup that is just itching for offensive revenge given the consequences suffered from when these teams last faced off. The Cardinals are hitting .270 and are scoring about 4.8 runs per contest. However an area that is underachieving compared to other Cardinal squads is the power department where they collectively have hit just 98 round trippers this season. Carlos Beltran (.307 22 67) leads St. Louis in that department albeit the majority coming the variety of the solo shot. Beltran who is 36 years old has indicated he'd like to retire a Cardinal and hopes to have 3-4 years left of playing time. Yadier Molina (.336 10 59) has caught 5 straight games and continues to lead the NL in hitting thanks to 6 hits in his last 9 plate appearances. Allen Craig (.310 12 90) is third in the NL in RBI and has had the opportunity to collect key hits leading to decisive Cardinal wins especially at Busch. Same holds true at the top of the lineup for Matt Carpenter (.311 9 53) who leads the club in hits and runs scored. Matt Holiday (.282 16 62) has battled through several injuries to otherwise put up a respectable season. John Jay (.270 7 56) is hitting .350 in August proving he can be a legitimate threat down the stretch.
We get a bit of a higher price this evening, but we will likely expect more fireworks in this 4 game set as both clubs are capable of having big innings. It remains to be seen how Kelly can continue to build on his winning streak, while Maholm will look to get back on track after a long stint on the DL. The ball has good carry straight away and to the left field corner, but on humid nights tends to die more quickly than the effect in similar hittable ballparks. Hopefully with conditions expected to be fair and warm we can get back on the left side after suffering through a mini-slump. Best of luck however you play!