CARDINALS (26-28) AT PHILLIES (33-22)
1:05 p.m. ET; NBCSP, MLBN, FS-M, MLB.TV
The Philadelphia Phillies will attempt to sweep the three-game series in the finale against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday afternoon.
The Phillies homered four times in Wednesday’s 11-4 rout and improved to 20-10 at Citizens Bank Park this season. The 20-10 start matches the 2011 team — which won 102 games — for the best home start through 30 games in the 16-year history of the ballpark.
Bryce Harper stayed red hot and stroked a homer, double, single and four RBIs while seeing his average climb to .243.
Even when Harper was struggling, he never lost confidence in his offensive capability.
“I think as a team, we’re never down, always keep grinding and having good at-bats,” Harper told reporters. “I think that’s what makes our team so good. On any given day, we can go out there and win a ballgame. We know that as a team.”
Philadelphia will hand the ball to right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, who’s 2-2 with a 3.86 earned run average. But over Eickhoff’s last three starts, he has allowed 17 hits and 13 runs in 12 innings.
Eickhoff had a stellar 1.50 ERA through his first five starts, but has labored with a 9.75 ERA over his last three starts. After giving up zero home runs in his first 30 innings, Eickhoff has surrendered seven homers in the last three outings.
Eickhoff has made two career appearances against the Cardinals, going 1-1 including a 5-0 victory on May 8, when he allowed three hits in eight shutout innings.
The Phillies placed reliever Adam Morgan on the injured list with a strained left forearm, where he joined Tommy Hunter, David Robertson, Victor Arano, Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek.
“We have some options,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s not optimal, but we’ll fight through a tough time.”
Still, the Phillies offense has produced 10-plus runs six times this season, which has taken some pressure off the beat-up bullpen.
The Cardinals dropped to 7-18 in the month of May after going 19-10 in March and April.
If the Cardinals are able to avoid a sweep, they’ll need a strong outing from starter Dakota Hudson, who owns a 3-3 record and 4.22 ERA. He lost his only career meeting with the Phillies, suffering an 11-1 loss on May 7, when he gave up eight runs (two earned) on seven hits.
In Hudson’s last start Saturday, he tossed a career-high 6 1/3 innings in a 6-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. Hudson gave up five hits and two runs.
Hudson has four quality starts in May, including three straight, and a 3.07 ERA over his last five games.
“I like Dakota’s stuff,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told reporters. “He really has upper-echelon stuff. This is a word I use all the time — consistency. It’s just a matter of putting it together, making quality pitches and getting the most out of his ability.”
The Cardinals could be without starting catcher Yadier Molina for a second straight game with a bruised right hand. Matt Wieters did hit a double and home run in Wednesday’s loss, but the Cardinals certainly don’t want to be without Molina for too long.
“He’s more day-to-day right now,” Shildt said of Molina. “We don’t feel like it’s anything that’s overly serious. We feel like we’ve got a grip on it. There’s nothing that we’ve found that’s anything structural.”
–Field Level Media