Cardinals will have work cut out vs. Kluber, Indians
Number 10,001 might come a bit tougher on Tuesday night.
That’s because St. Louis (41-36) will have to deal with Cleveland ace Corey Kluber in the middle game of the teams’ three-game interleague series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Kluber (11-3, 2.10), who at this point might be a favorite to win his third American League Cy Young Award, is coming off one of his standard dominating outings. In a 12-0 win Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox, Kluber permitted just one hit and one walk in seven innings, fanning seven.
Following a rare hiccup in a June 15 loss to Minnesota, which touched him for four hits and four runs in five innings, Kluber was back in form.
“It seems like every five days, you try to come up with something different to say,” Indians manager Terry Francona said to mlb.com. “But his level of consistency is so high that, man, it’s just fun to watch.”
The Cardinals got a taste of Kluber’s level of consistency three years ago on a cold May night in Cleveland, and it went down about as well as a bottle of pesticide. Kluber fanned 18 and walked none over eight innings, ceding just one hit in a 2-0 victory that was the highlight of a 9-16 season hampered by a lack of run support.
That St. Louis lineup bore little resemblance to the one that Kluber will face Tuesday night, just like the Cardinals’ starter bears little resemblance to the one that opened this season pitching at a Cy Young level.
Carlos Martinez (3-4, 3.24) has seen his earned run average double since coming off the disabled list on June 5, failing to make it past the fifth inning in four straight starts. Martinez was pummeled for eight hits and seven runs, five earned, over four innings of an 11-3 defeat Thursday night in Milwaukee.
But St. Louis manager Mike Matheny says Martinez is getting closer to the pitcher that pitched to a 1.62 ERA in his first eight starts.
“I thought his stuff was better last game than his line suggested,” Matheny said of Martinez. “He knows how close he is to getting locked in, so I’m excited to see him pitch tomorrow.”
Martinez, who will face the Indians (43-34) for the first time in his MLB career, has usually delivered shutdown efforts in interleague outings. In 16 career games, 12 of them starts, against American League competition, Martinez is 4-4 with a 1.97 ERA.
The Cardinals became the seventh MLB franchise to reach five figures in victories with a good all-around outing. They held an explosive offense to four hits, scored all their runs with two outs and played a clean game defensively.
“I’d take that every night,” Matheny said. “Give them a zero, give us a few runs and I’ll trust our bullpen. Guys came through with big hits. We did a lot of things right … it was a big day.”