The visiting Cleveland Indians will bid for a series sweep when they face the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday to wrap up their three-game series.
The Indians won the first two games at Busch Stadium, 14-2 Friday and 2-1 in 12 innings Saturday. They have won 11 of their last 14 games overall and hold a one-game lead over the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central.
“We just got to continue playing, don’t look back and compete every day,” Indians temporary manager Sandy Alomar, who is filling in while Terry Francona recovers from surgery, told reporters. “We have a great lineup, a great starting rotation and the bullpen is doing outstanding, so we can compete with them.”
The Indians have stayed in the hunt with strong pitching. But they struggled offensively until Friday night’s outburst.
They were hitting just .217 entering this series, which was the fourth-worst team batting average in the majors. Designated hitter Franmil Reyes drove in five runs Friday night energize the attack.
“It’s really exciting,” Reyes said. “Seeing my teammates and my team like this, like I told you guys in the beginning, we’re going to be good because I trust my teammates and I know what kind of players they are, the effort they put out there and how they play with their heart. That’s big. That’s why I have that confidence with them.”
The offensive struggles returned Saturday, but they won despite going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
The Indians will start Aaron Civale (3-3, 3.15 ERA), who will face the Cardinals for the first time in his young career. In his last outing, Civale struck out eight batters in six innings, but allowed three runs on seven hits in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
The Cardinals, who have lost four straight games, will counter with Adam Wainwright (2-0, 2.88 ERA). He struggled with his command in his last outing. He allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings of a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
“It wasn’t easy tonight,” Wainwright said after that loss. “I was just grinding out there tonight. My cutter was OK. But at times I was so far jumping ahead of my arm that everything was kind of erratic early on.
“Fastball command was terrible and curveball was not spinning right until the end of the game. Fastball command and breaking balls are kind of my deal. If I’m not doing either one of those it’s going to be a tough sled.”
He was especially frustrated by a pair of two-out walks in the third inning that led to the second Royals run in that game.
“When you don’t have your good stuff sometimes you’ve got to battle and make guys swing at other stuff,” Wainwright said. “But you can’t give free passes. I really think that was the turning point in the game.”
This will be his first career start against the Indians.
The Cardinals optioned pitchers Daniel Ponce de Leon and Junior Fernandez to their alternate training site before the game and put Ricardo Sanchez on the 10-day injured list. They promoted Rob Kaminsky, Seth Elledge and Ryan Meisinger onto their active roster.
They also added first baseman John Nogowski and optioned out infielder Max Schrock.
–Field Level Media