The St. Louis Cardinals’ rich history includes 11 World Series titles and nearly 11,000 victories, and yet there always seems to be something baseball fans haven’t seen.
One feat the Cardinals can’t claim is a series win of any kind against the Cleveland Indians, and their next shot at crossing off the only remaining active franchise they haven’t defeated in a series begins Tuesday night in Cleveland.
The Cardinals (22-9), fittingly, began interleague play in 1997 by losing two of three at home to the Indians (11-19). Since then, they’ve racked up 143 interleague wins for a .520 winning percentage that ranks behind only the New York Mets and Miami in the NL.
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Among the current franchises, there are 11 matchups in which one team has never defeated the other in the regular or postseason, though the Cardinals and Indians are the only teams in that group to have met more than five times. St. Louis is just 6-14 against Cleveland in seven series and has never beaten the Indians in back-to-back games.
The club has also never had Lance Lynn on the mound against the AL foe, but the reliable right-hander hasn’t displayed much recent consistency.
Lynn (1-3, 3.82 ERA) suffered his second defeat in three starts in Wednesday’s 6-5 home loss to the Chicago Cubs, allowing five runs and eight hits in six innings. Lynn has a 6.00 ERA in those three starts after giving an earned run in each of his first three outings. He’s been even worse in AL parks, going 1-4 with a 6.69 ERA in six starts.
Lynn should have Matt Carpenter back in the lineup after the third baseman missed the weekend series in Pittsburgh because of fatigue.
The Cardinals dropped two of three at PNC Park and are in danger of losing three straight for the first time. Sunday’s 4-3 loss was the first time they were held under five runs in seven games – a span in which they’ve batted .295 with 6.14 runs per game.
St. Louis tied it in the sixth and seventh innings but was never able to grab a lead.
"Just one of those days we had to try and get what we could," manager Mike Matheny said. "Gave up a few, got ’em back, then just couldn’t hold them in the end."
Matt Holliday has often paced the impressive offense, reaching base in all of his 29 games. He was 0 for 3 with a walk Sunday, while Kolten Wong was 1 for 3 with a home run. The second baseman has homered in two of three games and is 15 for 29 on an eight-game hitting streak.
The lineup won’t have to face Danny Salazar after the Cleveland starter pitched the Indians to an 8-2 victory over Minnesota on Sunday to salvage one of three in the series.
Salazar has been impressive, but the rotation as a whole has a 5.46 ERA. By those standards, Carlos Carrasco hasn’t been bad. Carrasco (4-2, 4.71) has won consecutive starts, including Wednesday’s 10-3 victory in Kansas City after allowing three runs and five hits in seven innings against a strong lineup.
"I thought he did really well," manager Terry Francona told MLB’s official website. "… He pitched really effectively against a lineup that feels pretty good about themselves."
The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.24 ERA in five starts against the NL, but Jhonny Peralta is 6 for 8 in their matchups.
After Sunday, Cleveland is in a position to win two straight games for the first time since the first series of the year in Houston.
Jason Kipnis is hitting .462 in May and Michael Brantley is batting .385 on a 10-game hitting streak.