The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals are accustomed to making the playoffs. That’s why there is no sense of panic among either organization as they endure midseason struggles.
Both teams have had to deal with injuries. The Braves have worked through bullpen woes, and the Cardinals have suffered through a recent hitting slump that has seen them score only 10 runs over the past seven games.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night in the third game of a four-game set at Atlanta’s Truist Park.
St. Louis will send veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright (4-5, 3.95 ERA) to the mound to oppose Atlanta lefty Drew Smyly (3-3, 5.63). Atlanta has won the first two games of the series.
St. Louis has lost 11 of its past 15 games. That includes a three-game sweep to Miami that happened despite the Marlins scoring only seven runs. Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado is hitless in his past 20 at-bats and has seen his batting average drop 20 points to .266.
“We’ve got to separate all these games and know that we’ve got to play tomorrow and we’ve got a chance to win and come together as a group,” St. Louis shortstop Paul DeJong said. “I think overall we’re going to keep encouraging each other and know what we’re going to get hot at the right time. We’ve done it over the course of my career here every year. Late-season runs. We’re just going to try to stay in there as much as we can now and try to build some momentum.”
Atlanta has won two straight but has dropped six of its past nine. The Braves are three games under .500.
“It happens and you’ve got to fight through it,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve given up a lot of two-strike damage. I know what. That’s what I’m talking about … doing your job. If we’re going to get on a run that I feel we’re capable of, everyone has to do their job.”
Wainwright has appeared in 19 games against the Braves, 14 as a starter, and is 9-4 record with a 3.63 ERA. He was 5-2 at Turner Field but is 0-1 in his lone start at Truist Park, in 2019, when he allowed five runs in four innings of the Cardinals’ 10-2 loss.
Wainwright is coming off his third straight quality start in a no-decision in a 4-2 win over Miami on Monday. He pitched six innings and allowed two runs, three walks and struck out six, one of them the 1,900th of his career.
Smyly is coming off a solid effort on Sunday at Miami, picking up his first win since May 14. He allowed two runs in five innings and struck out six in a 6-4 win over the Marlins. In three starts in June, Smyly is 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA. He has made only one career start against the Cardinals, in 2019, giving up two runs and three hits in four innings.
Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games, the longest such active streak in the majors. He had a 32-game streak in 2019.
–Field Level Media