Major League Baseball

Upbeat Cardinals ready to tackle Reds

mlb11REDS (27-32) AT CARDINALS (30-28)
8:15 p.m. ET; FS-M, FS-O, MLB.TV

The St. Louis Cardinals have won four in a row and can match their longest winning streak of the season with a victory against the visiting Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday night.

St. Louis is coming off a three-game sweep against the visiting Chicago Cubs over the weekend. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told reporters that the sweep “probably validates the clubhouse outside of our clubhouse.”

The Cardinals likely had some doubters heading into last weekend after they went 7-18 the first 29 days of May, but not on the St. Louis bench.

“I don’t want to misrepresent that it doesn’t feel good and doesn’t give us confidence, but we’re not surprised,” Shildt said of the sweep.

The Reds will try to avoid losing three in a row for the first time since a four-game skid from April 14-17, which began with a 9-5 loss to the Cardinals in Monterrey, Mexico, and included three defeats at Dodger Stadium.

Cincinnati is scheduled to send right-hander Luis Castillo to the mound.

Castillo (5-1, 2.45 ERA) hasn’t lost a game since April 3, but hasn’t been as crisp lately either.

He had his worst outing of the season on May 22, allowing four runs and five hits in just 2 2/3 innings of the Reds’ 11-9 defeat at Milwaukee. He got a no-decision in that game, and another in his most recent appearance, when he gave up three runs (two earned) and six hits in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-5 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

“My changeup was working a little better than it was last time that I threw,” Castillo told reporters through a team translator. “I’m just going to go out there, practice and keep battling.”

In six career starts against the Cardinals, Castillo is 1-3 with a 3.67 ERA.

Castillo won’t have to contend with St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. The nine-time NL All Star is on the 10-day injured list with strained tendon in his right thumb and won’t be eligible to come off until Friday.

Andrew Knizner made his major league debut behind the plate Sunday in the Cardinals’ 2-1 win against the Cubs, but veteran Matt Wieters will likely slide back into the starting lineup on Tuesday, when the Cardinals are expected to send rookie left-hander Genesis Cabrera to the mound for his second major league start.

Cabrera (0-1, 7.36 ERA) made his major league debut on Wednesday at Philadelphia, allowing five runs (three earned) and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. Cabrera, a 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic, struck out five Phillies and walked two.

Cabrera took the rotation spot formerly occupied by Michael Wacha, who was sent to the bullpen after back-to-back losses.

Cincinnati’s most dangerous hitters of late have been left-handers Joey Votto, Derek Dietrich and Jesse Winker, but expect the Reds to stack the top of their order with right-handers Nick Senzel, Eugenio Suarez, Yasiel Puig and Jose Iglesias.

Suarez hit .321 in May with seven home runs and 24 RBIs. He didn’t start on Sunday against Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, but he pinch-hit in the ninth inning and popped out to first.

Senzel made his major league debut on May 3 and has shined in his first month, batting .267 in the leadoff spot with 20 runs.

–Field Level Media

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