St. Louis Cardinals (10-6) at Washington Nationals (9-7)
Friday, April 18 - 7:05 PM EST
Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington Nationals had no answers for Adam Wainwright, but they hope they'll fare better against Michael Wacha. The Nationals continue their four-game home series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, one day after managing just two singles against Wainwright. Wacha poses a major challenge as well, especially since the 22-year-old dominated Washington in his final start of the 2013 regular season.
Wacha, making his ninth career start Sept. 24, lost a no-hitter against the Nationals with two outs in the ninth inning on Ryan Zimmerman's infield hit. "It was still a pretty special night," Wacha said after striking out nine Washington hitters, including Ian Desmond twice. Desmond had one of the Nationals' two hits Thursday but also committed two of the team's four errors in an 8-0 defeat.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), MASN2 (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (2-0, 1.89 ERA) vs. Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.50)
Wacha has worked at least six innings in all three of his starts and has allowed a total of four runs, although three of those came in his last outing. He has walked one batter in each of his outings, striking out 18 along the way. Wacha has given up one extra-base hit in 35 at-bats against right-handed hitters this season.
Gonzalez has worked exactly six innings in all three starts, allowing a total of one run in his first two outings before surrendering six runs in Sunday's loss to Atlanta. First-pitch strikes will be key for Gonzalez as opponents are hitting .156 against him after falling behind 0-1 while that number rises to .333 if the first pitch is a ball. Gonzalez has made two career starts against the Cardinals, allowing a total of two runs in 16 innings.
1. Cleanup hitters are 0-for-9 with six strikeouts against Wainwright.
2. Gonzalez has faced former American League foes Jhonny Peralta and Peter Bourjos a combined 27 times, holding them to five total hits.
3. The Nationals have lost five of their last seven games while the Cardinals have won five of six.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 4, Nationals 2