The St. Louis Cardinals are looking very comfortable in AL
ballparks this season.
The Cardinals will try for their seventh consecutive interleague
road victory and season-high fifth straight overall when they
continue their series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday
While St. Louis (45-38) is a solid 8-5 in interleague play this
year, it’s been particularly impressive in road games against the
AL, winning six straight after losing its first interleague away
The Cardinals beat Tampa Bay 5-3 on Friday following a sweep of
the Orioles in Baltimore earlier this week. Jake Westbrook allowed
two hits in seven scoreless innings and Colby Rasmus hit a
three-run homer in the eighth off Rays reliever J.P. Howell.
Rasmus has nine home runs this season, three in the last four
games and four in interleague play.
”Colby’s got so much talent,” manager Tony La Russa said.
”When he gets into a game, a lot of good things happen. If he can
keep that up, good at-bats, what a huge asset he would be.”
Howell was ejected by plate umpire Vic Carapazza after the
left-hander threw his glove to the ground following the homer and
also spiked the new ball tossed to him by the umpire. Manager Joe
Maddon as well as David Price and Elliot Johnson – both of whom
were in the dugout – were also tossed as the Rays (45-37) dropped
to 19-21 at home.
The NL Central-leading Cardinals have averaged 6.3 runs and hit
seven homers in their last four games.
Their starting pitching also has been producing. Cardinals
starters are 5-0 with a 2.06 ERA during the six-game road
interleague win streak, a trend Kyle McClellan (6-4, 4.02 ERA)
looks to continue Saturday.
McClellan has lost his last three decisions, however, and is
winless in his last five starts, the last four of which St. Louis
has lost. He allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-0 defeat to
Toronto on Sunday.
The right-hander made a one-inning relief appearance against the
Rays in 2008, allowing one run and two walks.
The Rays will try to bounce back after their third loss in four
games Friday. They have hit .180 during that stretch, going 3 for
23 with runners in scoring position. Casey Kotchman, batting a
team-best .333, is 2 for 12 in his last four games after he was
hitless in three at-bats Friday.
”I thought we were kind of flat at the beginning of the game,”
Maddon said. ”I was kind of annoyed with that. We just had a day
off Thursday and we didn’t have a day off listed for Friday, so I
was a little upset with that.”
Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann (2-4, 5.58) will make his third start
since coming off the disabled list with a lower back strain.
The right-hander gave up five runs and seven hits in three
innings against Houston on Sunday, but escaped without a decision
as the Rays went on to win 14-10. In his first start off the DL,
Niemann pitched six scoreless innings to win at Milwaukee on June
“I couldn’t get the ball down in the zone, and the breaking
pitches weren’t as sharp as the last time out,” he told the Rays’
official website. “It’s a bad combo.”
The Cardinals are 6-1 all-time against the Rays.