The Royals and Cardinals meet again in St. Louis for one game to make up the game rained out on June 14. The two Missouri teams sport the best record in their respective league, making this a possible preview of the World Series if they continue on this torrid pace. The Cardinals had a hot June, but have gone just 9-9 in July and now stand at 60-34, six games up on Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals offense has been mediocre this year, although they have no glaring holes in their lineup. They are seventh in the National League in runs scored, slightly higher than the league average with 4.06 runs per game. Yadier Molina is having a down year and Matt Carpenter has been in an awful slump, hitting .173/.297/.218 over his last 39 games. On the flip side, Jhonny Peralta has enjoyed an All-Star season, and Jason Heyward has begun to heat up after a slow start, hitting .312/.366/.470 over his last 60 games. The Cardinals are a patient team, third in walks and on-base percentage, but have hit just the eleventh most home runs.
Outfielder Jon Jay is out with a wrist injury and first baseman Matt Adams will be out for months with a quad injury. The Cardinals called up one of their top prospects in outfielder Stephen Piscotty this week. The Cardinals boast an above-average defense with +12 Defensive Runs Saved. Matt Holliday is a bit of defensive liability, but the rest of the Cardinals outfield is tremendous defensively with two-time Gold Glover Jason Heyward in right. The Cardinals are ninth in stolen bases, but have a poor success rate of 67%.
The Royals beat John Lackey in Kansas City back in May, and for his career he is just 3-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 11 starts against the Royals. Lackey's strikeout rate is down this year, but he's also not giving up as many long balls. Lackey can still throw in the low 90s and his fastball has been quite effective this year. Lackey has been on fire lately, going at least six innings and giving up two runs or less in each of his last seven outings, with a 1.63 ERA over that time.
The Cardinals still boast the league's best bullpen ERA at 2.67, but closer Trevor Rosenthal has given up five runs in his last five outings, including his second blown save of the year on July 12 against Pittsburgh. Lefty Kevin Siegrist leads the league in relief appearances, but has a reverse split, with righties hitting just .156/.227/.284 against him. Right-hander Sean Manness has the third-best walk rate among relievers, allowing just four free passes in 37 innings of work. The Cardinals have also gotten effective work out of scrap-heap journeymen like Carlos Villanueva and Michael Socolovich.
Its just one game, but there could be a playoff atmosphere in St. Louis tonight. A re-match of the 1985 World Series would be a lot of fun this fall, but the Royals have to take care of business tonight.
EDIT: The Royals will lineup like so.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Little Nowhere Towns Lineup: Escobar 6, Moustakas 5, Cain 8, Hosmer 3, Perez 2, Rios 9, Infante 4, Dyson 7, Young 1. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Royals?src=hash">#Royals</a></p>— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) <a href="https://twitter.com/McCulloughStar/status/624306577537761280">July 23, 2015</a></blockquote>
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