Matt Garza has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball of late.
The Chicago Cubs hope the right-hander can stymie the surging St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night at Wrigley Field.
St. Louis (56-35) defeated Chicago 3-2 on Friday to pick up its sixth win in seven games. The Cardinals, who had lost eight of 11 prior to this stretch, have prospered due to a pitching staff that has posted a 3.05 ERA with five home runs allowed over the past seven contests.
The Cardinals, owners of baseball’s best road record at 29-19, managed to get back to their winning ways away from home Friday after losing six of eight on the road.
No one has had more fun at Wrigley Field than Cardinals All-Star starting outfielder Carlos Beltran. He had three hits and drove in a run Friday, and his career .349 batting average at Wrigley is his best at any ballpark he’s had at least 30 at-bats.
Beltran, batting .414 against Chicago (41-50) this season, had one extra-base hit in his first 29 at-bats in July before posting a double and triple Friday.
“That’s baseball,” Beltran said. “Some days you feel like you come to the ballpark and you try and nothing works out your way, and today it seems like everything worked out my way.”
Garza (5-1, 3.22 ERA) could be the right candidate to quiet Beltran, who has yet to record a hit in their seven matchups. He’s also 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA in his last five starts after allowing two runs and five hits over seven innings of an 8-2 victory over the White Sox on Monday.
“I think he’d probably tell you he didn’t have the great fastball command, but he did have the velocity,” manager Dale Sveum said.
After posting a 7.80 ERA in his first three career starts against the Cardinals, Garza is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in his last three.
He will square off against Lance Lynn (11-3, 3.67), who broke out of a mini-slump in his last start. The right-hander posted a 5.93 ERA in losing consecutive outings for the first time in his career before holding Miami to two runs in seven innings of a 3-2 win Sunday.
“I tried to not even think about the last (loss),” Lynn said. “You’re going to have times where it seems like every time you throw a pitch and they hit, it’s a hit, no matter where it goes.”
Lynn has posted a 29-10 record since the start of the 2012 season, giving him the fifth-best winning percentage in baseball during that span. Five of those victories have come against the Cubs, who scored twice off him over seven innings to come away with a 2-1 win at Wrigley Field on May 7.
He limited the Cubs to a run and three hits in six innings of a 6-1 win in St. Louis on June 20.
Starlin Castro appears to have broken out of his slump against the Cardinals. After going 2 for his first 24 versus St. Louis this season, he has five hits in seven at-bats over the first two of this four-game series.
The Cubs have allowed three runs or fewer in six of their last seven games while going 5-2.