Time: 7:05 PM ET, MASN
Line: Baltimore -134
Interleague play illuminates the weekend, as two contenders meet in Baltimore, with the Orioles hosting the reigning National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. It’s been a dogfight in the NL Central for the Cardinals (61-52), who have done everything possible to keep pace with the Milwaukee Brewers despite a slew of injuries to their pitching staff. Staving off the Pirates and Reds has been no small miracle either, as four games separate these four teams in the division. As it stands, Mike Matheny’s club is in possession of one of the two Wild Card births in the National League, but their grip can be described as tenuous at best; like their predicament in the division, a half-game is the scant difference between being on the outside looking in.
With that said, the Cardinals exacted a measure of revenge with a 2-1 series victory over the Red Sox, whom of course defeated them in six games during last year’s World Series. St. Louis ended their three-game set with the struggling Sox with a 5-2 victory, thanks in large part to the heroics of one Adam Wainwright (14-6, 2.28 ERA), who handled Boston’s lineup through seven stellar innings. The ace allowed just a pair of runs on seven hits, striking out seven while walking two Sox before Kevin Siegrist and Pat Neshek finished off the final two innings. Offensively, the Cardinals scored early, tallying three runs in the 1st Inning via Jhonny Peralta’s double to deep center, driving home both Matt Carpenter and Kolton Wong, with Oscar Tavares bringing him home courtesy of a single shortly thereafter. After that, it was the Wong
Show; the Second Baseman homered in both the 5th and 7th Innings, effectively ending the contest.
Taking the hill tonight for Matheny will be Justin Masterson (5-6, 5.63 ERA), who was acquired shortly before the Trade Deadline from the Cleveland Indians. Masterson had been spotty throughout the season before landing on the Disabled List with a knee injury, but Matheny hopes that he will prove to be an adequate reinforcement for a pitching staff that has been riddled with injuries. In his first start as a Cardinal, the 29-year old righthander made a decent enough impression; Masterson allowed five runs on seven hits against Milwaukee, striking out four Brewers while walking three in a 9-7 victory. He showed good control, inducing 14 ground ball outs while throwing 90 pitches in what turned out to be his first victory since June 8th. The six-year veteran faced Baltimore earlier in the season, an 8-7 win in which he failed to factor into the decision, relinquishing five runs on eight hits.
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Meanwhile, the Orioles (65-49) may have been quiet at the Trade Deadline, but have nonetheless continued to go about their business in the AL East. Winners of four out of five, Baltimore took two out of three against division rival Toronto, which was particularly poignant considering the Blue Jays came into the series trailing the O’s by four games. That lad has now been extended to five as Buck Showalter’s club looks to put the foot on the neck of what has become a depleted division. All this coincides with a celebration tonight honoring 23 of the franchise’s Hall of Famers in a 60th Anniversary gala which is sure to put the fans in an uproar.
Thursday Night, the Orioles continued to put space between themselves and the Blue Jays with a narrow 2-1 victory on the road, thanks to some
help from one of the younger players on their roster. Caleb Joseph, who was called up to replace the injured Matt Wieters, impressed again this time with his fourth home run in as many games, which happens to be a record for Baltimore catchers. And it’s a good thing he had; the O’s offense could only muster five hits, with all two of their runs coming via Joseph’s long ball. Miguel Gonzalez (6-6, 3.80 ERA) enjoyed his first victory in three starts, stifling Toronto’s typically explosive offense. Gonzalez lasted six strong innings, allowing just one run on four hits, with four strikeouts and a pair of walks. Andrew Miller and
Darren O’Day tossed two shutout innings before Zach Britton made quick work of the Jays for his 24th save of the campaign.
Showalter will send Chris Tillman (8-5, 3.78 ERA) to the mound tonight, who looks to capitalize off of a commanding performance last Sunday against the Mariners. In the 1-0 victory, the righthander pitched seven shutout innings, yielding just four hits and striking out six batters with no walks. It was a welcome sight for Baltimore fans, who have watched Tillman struggle for over a month, failing to earn a victory in six consecutive starts. However, he showed excellent command of his fastball which only grew stronger as the game went on; he yielded three hits in the first two innings, but only one over the final seven.