St. Louis Cardinals (54-47) at Miami Marlins (55-46)
Thursday, July 28 - 7:10 PM EST
Marlins Park, Miami, Florida
If the season ended today, the Miami Marlins would be in the National League wild card game while perennial contenders to St. Louis Cardinals would be on the outside looking in. The Cardinals will try to turn the tables and make up some ground when they visit the Marlins in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday.
St. Louis enters the series with some momentum after fighting back with a pair of runs off New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning on Wednesday to earn a 5-4 win in the rubber match of the three-game series. The Cardinals are trying to make up a one-game gap on Miami in this series and are planning on making a more significant run up the standings with nine straight games against last-place teams Cincinnati and Atlanta beginning after the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The Marlins bounced back from a pair of shutouts by outscoring the Philadelphia Phillies 16-1 on Tuesday and Wednesday to stay clear of New York and St. Louis. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton went 4-for-9 with a home run and four RBIs in the two wins and is 4-for-11 with three doubles against the Cardinals this season.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (5-7, 4.37 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Jose Fernandez (12-4, 2.54)
Wacha is trying to end a string of three straight no decisions and is looking to complete seven innings for the first time since June. 17. The Texas A&M product, who allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his eight appearances, was reached for two runs and 10 hits in six innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. Wacha is making his second career appearance against the Marlins and is 3-3 with a 4.02 ERA in nine road starts this season.
Fernandez surrendered two runs or fewer in each of his last three outings and was dominant in the first two following the All-Star break, notching 21 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings. The Cuba native is historically great at home with a 26-1 career record and yielded a total of four earned runs in his last eight outings in front of the home fans. Fernandez is second in the majors with 175 strikeouts, trailing only Washington’s Max Scherzer (181).
1. The Marlins will get 2B Dee Gordon back from an 80-game PED suspension on Thursday.
2. St. Louis has yet to name a starter for Saturday, and top prospect Alex Reyes remains an option.
3. Miami OF Ichiro Suzuki is three hits shy of reaching 3,000 for his career.
PREDICTION: Marlins 5, Cardinals 1