CARDINALS (40-41) AT PADRES (42-40)
4:10 p.m. ET; FSSD, FS-M, MLB.TV
The Padres are on a run. The Cardinals are running for cover.
That’s the situation going into Sunday afternoon at Petco Park, where the Padres will be looking for a series sweep against the Cardinals and a fifth straight overall win, while St. Louis will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak without its biggest weapon.
The Padres have hit 16 homers during their four-game winning streak. The Cardinals have scored a total of 10 runs during their five-game losing streak.
The hot stretch has given the Padres (42-20) their first winning record at the midpoint of the season since 2010. The Cardinals, meanwhile, finished the mathematical first half at 40-41.
There is plenty of reason for optimism if you are a Padres fan.
“It’s been nice to watch the offense really pick it up,” Padres manager Andy Green said of a unit that has scored 33 runs on 42 hits over the last four games. “Across the board, we’ve had better at-bats, deeper at-bats and had bigger hits, putting more runs on the board.”
Meanwhile, the Cardinals will remain without their biggest weapon through the All-Star break. Left fielder Marcell Ozuna was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday morning with small fractures at the base of the third and fourth fingers on his right hand. The Cardinals promoted outfielders Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas from Triple-A.
“Other guys are going to have to pick it up with the loss of Marcell,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Saturday. “Marcell was having a productive season (20 homers, 62 RBIs in 78 games). That’s a lot of production to replace.”
Ozuna had six more homers and 26 more RBIs than anyone else in a Cardinals lineup that has gotten disappointing production from the likes of free agent first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, shortstop Paul DeJong, right fielder Jose Martinez and third baseman Matt Carpenter.
And Sunday will be only the third game of a nine-game road trip that takes the Cardinals into the All-Star break. Being .500 at the break is no sure thing for St. Louis, which heads to Seattle and San Francisco next.
The Cardinals will send former Padre Miles Mikolas (5-8, 4.33 ERA) to the mound Sunday against Padres left-hander Joey Lucchesi (6-4, 3.95 ERA), who will be facing St. Louis for the first time in his career.
Lucchesi has a 3-1 record over his last five starts with a 3.38 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP, although he allowed four runs on six hits in five innings in his most recent start, Sunday in Pittsburgh. Lucchesi will be making his 16th start of the season, and the Padres are 8-7 thus far in his outings. Opponents are hitting .223 against Lucchesi.
Mikolas has not repeated his All-Star season of 2018. He has worked 89 1/3 innings in 16 starts, giving up 44 runs (43 earned) on 94 hits and 17 walks with 65 strikeouts. Along with his 4.33 ERA, Mikolas has a .271 opponents’ batting average and a 1.24 WHIP.
Mikolas made 27 relief appearances for the Padres over the 2012-13 seasons. Against the Padres, he has a 1-1 record in two starts with a 2.84 ERA, allowing four runs on 11 hits and a walk with nine strikeouts over 12 2/3 innings.
He has a 3-0 career record with a 2.45 ERA in 15 games (one start last season with the Cardinals) at Petco Park.
–Field Level Media