BOSTON RED SOX (49-63)
at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (60-51)
First pitch: Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Line: St. Louis -125, Boston +115, Total: 8
The Cardinals host the Red Sox on Wednesday night as they look to continue their quest for another playoff berth.
Boston has seemingly given up on its season, which has been a poor encore to a World Series win last year, as the club is 15 games out of first in the AL East lead after losing 11 of its past 13 contests. The Red Sox past three losses have been close though, as they lost by two runs in the second game against the Yankees in their weekend series followed by one-run losses in the rubber match of that series and the first contest against St. Louis on Tuesday, falling 3-2. In Tuesday's defeat, the Boston offense was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and the bullpen blew the game while allowing two runs in two innings of work. Newly acquired OF Yoenis Cespedes (.259) is 4-for-11 since joining the Red Sox, and has scored a run in each of his first three games. The Cardinals are once again looking to be the most dominant team in the NL Central and sit just one game behind the surprise Brewers for the division lead. They have been inching closer lately with wins in four of their past five games; including taking 2-of-3 against the aforementioned Brewers this past weekend. Their 3-2 win on Tuesday night was a result of their tremendous pitching, as they allowed just five hits in the contest while walking one batter. OF Matt Holliday (.269) started the season out slow, but has a five-game hitting streak where he has gone 7-for-21 (.333) with two home runs and 5 RBI. Two products from St. Louis’ system will square off in this game as recently traded 26-year-old RHP Joe Kelly (2-2, 4.37 ERA) of the Red Sox goes against 23-year old RHP Shelby Miller (8-8, 4.14 ERA) for the host Cardinals. Boston has not fared well away from home this year, going 22-32 on the road (.407, 7th-worst in MLB) while St. Louis thrives in front of its fans with a 32-24 record (.571, 5th-best in majors). These clubs have not had too much experience against each other with the last matchup before this series being the 2013 World Series where the Red Sox took home the trophy in six games. Some trends bettors should be aware of are that Boston is 12-4 in road games after losing five or six of its previous seven games over the past two seasons while going a woeful 31-43 (.419) against right-handed starters this season. As far as injuries are concerned, the Red Sox will be without recent addition OF Allen Craig (foot) and OF Shane Victorino (back). Meanwhile, the Cardinals are still without C Yadier Molina (thumb) who is not expected to return until late September.
Ironically enough, recently traded starter Joe Kelly will make his debut with the Red Sox against his former team. In his seven starts with the Cardinals, Kelly displayed his great fastball, which averaged 95 MPH, but struck out just 6.4 batters per nine innings over seven starts (35 IP). Although his strikeout rate was disappointing, he was able to put forth solid control (2.6 BB/9) while being hurt by some bad luck (.330 BABIP). St. Louis was left with a bad taste in its mouth upon Kelly’s departure, as he was poor in his final month with the team, going 1-1 (2-2 team record) with a 7.32 ERA in the month of July. He has obviously never faced his former team, and will need to be cautious when going up against OF Matt Holliday (.269 BA) who leads the team with 58 RBI, and 1B Matt Adams (.314 BA) who has the best average on the team. On the other hand, SS Jhonny Peralta (.254 BA) has only one extra-base hit in his past 14 games, and has just 1 RBI in that time. The Red Sox relievers lost the game on Tuesday and have pitched to the tune of a 14-20 record with a 3.51 ERA and 1.29 WHIP while earning a save in 25-of-36 (69%) chances this year. Koji Uehara (1.42 ERA, 22 saves) has blown only two saves on the season while having just as many walks (6) as home runs allowed in 50.2 frames.
Shelby Miller has always been a very streaky pitcher and that has resulted in him earning one win in his past nine outings. His strikeout rate has dropped to an alarming 6.0 K/9 this year after posting a solid 8.8 K/9 in his breakout season in 2013. While his ability to miss bats has waned, his control has been even worse, as he has walked 55 batters in his 121.2 innings of work (4.1 BB/9). His past two starts have looked much better though, as he has thrown a total of 11.2 innings while giving up a meager six hits and four earned runs while picking up eight strikeouts and zero walks. Just like Kelly, Miller will be facing his opposition for the first time, and will need to try and stay away from DH David Ortiz (.249 BA) who is third in the AL in both HR (26) and RBI (82). Meanwhile, OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.218 BA) has gone 0-for-21 in his past seven games while striking out 10 times over this hitless drought. The St. Louis bullpen has been solid, going 14-15 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, while converting 38-of-50 (76%) save opportunities. Closer Trevor Rosenthal (3.08 ERA, 35 saves) leads the majors in saves while striking out 11.6 batters per nine innings and not blowing a save since July 5.