CARDINALS (31-32) AT MARLINS (23-40)
7:10 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-M, MLB.TV
For the first time in his young career, right-hander Sandy Alcantara will face the team that traded him when his Miami Marlins play host to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.
Alcantara (3-5, 3.80 ERA) was dealt by the Cardinals to the Marlins on Dec. 14, 2017, as part of the payment for veteran outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
Miami also received minor league outfielder Magneuris Sierra and pitching prospects Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano. Gallen is putting up big numbers for Miami’s Triple-A affiliate, but, so far, the trade breaks down as Ozuna, 28, for Alcantara, 23.
Ozuna is coming in hot. He went 3-for-4 on Sunday night as his Cardinals lost 5-1 to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Ozuna is hitting .259 this season with 12 doubles, 17 homers, 54 RBIs and an .860 OPS.
Alcantara is also on a roll. He has allowed just one run in his past two starts, posting a 0.69 ERA in those 13 innings.
St. Louis will counter Alcantara with right-hander Michael Wacha (3-2, 6.30 ERA). He is 2-0 with a 4.60 ERA in three career appearances — all starts — against Miami. He is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in his one appearance at Marlins Park.
Wacha, who started this season in the rotation, lost his spot on May 22, when he allowed seven runs (six earned) against the Kansas City Royals.
Since then, Wacha has pitched twice in relief, allowing six runs in one inning in a disastrous effort against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 29 and then tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.
That most recent effort convinced Cardinals manager Mike Shildt that Wacha was ready to return to the rotation.
“His velocity is up,” Shildt said. “His changeup is improved, too.”
Both the Cardinals, who have lost three straight games, and the Marlins, who are on a four-game skid, are desperate for a win.
Miami blew a 5-1 lead with one out and none on in the ninth on Sunday, losing 7-6 in 12 innings to the visiting Atlanta Braves.
Perhaps Miami will have better luck with St. Louis. It certainly can’t be worse. The Marlins are 6-22 against the Braves since the start of 2018 and 1-8 versus Atlanta this year.
“You get tired of dealing with those guys,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the Braves. “They are a tough club to beat.”
Miami’s bullpen could be an issue Monday because the Marlins used seven relievers in Sunday’s game. Closer Sergio Romo saw his ERA rise to 5.48 after allowing four runs in the ninth, including a three-run homer to Ronald Acuna Jr.
“We’ve had our share of these types of losses,” Mattingly said. “Those are the ones that hurt the most.”
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are hoping they can get nine-time All-Star catcher Yadier Molina back Monday or soon thereafter. Molina, who is battling a strained tendon in his right thumb, took batting practice Sunday and will travel with his team to Miami.
“He continues to make progress,” Shildt said. “He will take batting practice on Monday, and we will evaluate from there.”
–Field Level Media