The streaking Chicago Cubs bid to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday night when they host the reeling St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cubs posted an 8-5 win over the Cardinals on Friday and a 7-2 victory the following day to improve to 23-10 at Wrigley Field.
Chicago has won five of its last six games to remain tied with the Milwaukee Brewers atop the National League Central.
St. Louis has lost 10 of its last 12 games to fall back to .500 for the first time since April 28.
“I’ve got to figure out a way to make it better,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It’s ultimately falls on my shoulders.”
Zach Davies (3-3, 4.45 ERA) will start for the Cubs in the series finale. In his previous outing, Davies blanked the San Diego Padres on one hit through six innings in a 7-1 victory.
“Best pitching performance I’ve seen him have,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He really hammered the bottom of the zone.”
Davies will try to build on that against the Cardinals.
“I’m continuing to be aggressive with the way I attack hitters,” Davies said. “I’m not trying to be too fine in locations. … (I’m) able to mix pitches, both sides of the plate.”
Davies threw five shutout innings against the Cardinals on May 23 in a game the Cubs won 2-1 in 10 innings. He is 2-3 with a 4.19 ERA in 11 career starts against them.
Matt Carpenter (12-for-25, five walks, four doubles, three homers), Nolan Arenado (6-for-19, three walks, three doubles, homer) and Paul Goldschmidt (4-for-12, two RBIs) have hit well against him.
Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez (3-6, 6.21) will try to get his season back on track after allowing 15 runs in 4 2/3 innings over his last two starts.
Back on May 3, Martinez threw eight scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since then, Martinez has failed to pitch deeper than the sixth inning in any start.
His ERA in his last five starts is 9.97 ERA. But earlier this season he met the quality start metric five times by allowing three or fewer runs in six or more innings.
“Look at the big body of work,” Shildt said. “Clean. Effective. Getting late into games. Getting softer contact. That’s the version we need. Not any better than that. That is really good. That gets you the sixth, seventh inning, and keeps them at bay for a couple of runs, or so. That’s the version we need. Which we’ve seen. Do we need better than that? We just need the consistency of that, and that will be enough.”
Martinez enjoyed a sharp outing against the Cubs during a 12-3 loss on May 21, holding them to two runs on four hits and one walk in six innings.
He is 4-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 37 career appearances (17 starts) against the Cubs.
Martinez has had career success against Kris Bryant (7-for-36, 16 strikeouts) and Javier Baez (4-for-29, seven strikeouts).
On the other hand, Willson Contreras (7-for-21, homer, five RBIs) and Ian Happ (6-for-18, two homers, four RBIs) have hit well against him.
–Field Level Media