TOM STRYKER’S FREE BASEBALL SELECTION SATURDAY, JULY 23RD
#953 ST. LOUIS with Matz (-162) over Cincinnati with Minor at 6:40 PM EST
In a bad mood off last night’s 9-5 road loss to the Big Red Machine, the Cardinals will respond with a solid performance in this division rivalry. St. Louis is just 1.5-games behind Milwaukee in the fight for the top spot in the NL Central and the Redbirds can’t afford losses to an opponent that currently rests 22.0-games under the .500 mark.
Returning to the lineup for the visitors will be left-hander Steven Matz. Out since May 22nd, with a shoulder, No. 32 has made nine starts this year and allowed 25 earned runs and 44 hits in 37.1 innings. Matz fanned 44 and walked eight on his way to a 3-3 record with a 6.03 ERA. Steven will be looking to duplicate his April 22nd, 2002, effort against the Reds. On this very same field, Matz allowed one earned run and seven hits in 5.0 frames. Steven whiffed six, issued two free passes, and grabbed the win in the Cards 4-2 victory.
Struggling southpaw Mike Minor will take the bump for the home team. With eight performances in the bank this season, No. 31 has been roughed up for 29 earned runs and 47 hits in 42.0 innings of work. Minor struck out 38 and walked 15 on his way to a dismal 1-6 tally with an elevated 6.21 ERA. Pitching inside the Great American Ball Palk has been a problem for Mike too. In the Queen City, Minor has been mauled for 18 earned runs and 26 hits in 26.1 frames. That’s bad enough for an 0-5 tally with an ugly 6.08 ERA.
Technically speaking, this is a lucrative spot for the road team. St. Louis has tasted victory in 22 of its last 32 battling a left-handed starter, 35 of its last 52 on Saturday, and 37 of its last 55 when matched up against a division opponent. On the other side of the yard, Cincinnati has fallen in 43 of its last 61 when fighting a foe that holds a team won/loss percentage greater than 500, 19 of its last 26 when competing on Saturday, and six of its last eight when facing a southpaw.
With a real shot at a division title this season, the Cardinals understand the importance of winning this NL Central war on the road. Take St. Louis with Matz. Thanks and best of luck, Tom.
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