Injuries to their top two RBI men could threaten the St. Louis
Cardinals’ latest winning streak.
The Cardinals could be without Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman
on Thursday when they try to complete a 4-0 homestand with a
two-game sweep of the Houston Astros.
After being swept in Cincinnati, St. Louis (25-19) returned home
to beat Philadelphia twice and Houston 5-1 on Wednesday. The
Cardinals, however, finished Wednesday’s game without Holliday and
Holliday, batting .357 with 28 RBIs, left after two innings with
a tight left quadriceps. Hitting .349 with 35 RBIs, Berkman was
removed as a precaution with tightness in his right wrist not long
after diving for a ball in right field.
“Holliday gave me a nod, which makes me think that he’ll be back
soon,” said manager Tony La Russa, who added that his cleanup
hitter might not play in the series finale.
Berkman is more optimistic he can go.
“I didn’t want to get jerked out of the game,” said Berkman, 8
for 15 with two homers and seven RBIs against his former Houston
teammates this season. “(Thursday) morning will be a good test to
see how it feels.”
The Cardinals could be without their entire starting outfield if
center fielder Colby Rasmus (abdomen) is unable to start for a
fifth consecutive game. Rasmus did pinch-hit Wednesday.
Fill-in John Jay and rookie Pete Kozma helped pick up the slack
for the Cardinals.Jay had two RBIs on Wednesday and Kozma added an
RBI double in his first career at-bat.
Starting in place of Rasmus, Jay has batted .458 with a homer
and nine RBIs his last eight games. He’s batting .333 in 14 career
games against Houston.
St. Louis might not need its most potent lineup if it continues
to get excellent pitching. The Cardinals have allowed one run in
each of the last three games.
Probable starter Kyle McClellan (5-1, 3.62 ERA) looks to bounce
back after allowing four runs and three homers Saturday in six
innings of a 7-3 loss to Cincinnati.
McClellan also hopes to improve on his only previous start
against Houston. He gave up a season-high five runs in 5 2-3
innings of an 11-7 win at Minute Maid Park on April 28.
Hunter Pence is 6 for 13 against McClellan but 3 for 25 with
eight strikeouts his last six games for the Astros (15-28), who
will try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.
Houston has totaled four runs and 18 hits its last three
J.A. Happ (3-4, 5.40) looks to help end the skid and earn his
third consecutive win. The left-hander allowed two runs in six
innings of a 7-3 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday to
improve to 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts this month.
“He’s got his breaking ball down, then he got some outs up in
the zone. You change the eye level, you can be effective,” Mets
manager Terry Collins told the Astros’ official website.
Happ surrendered a pair of solo homers in five innings to take
the loss in a 6-5 defeat to the Cardinals on April 27. He was worse
in his only career start at Busch Stadium, getting charged with
seven runs in one inning of an 8-4 loss Aug. 4.