The St. Louis Cardinals are seemingly unstoppable entering the stretch run of the regular season, and are making a habit of hurting other teams’ chances of getting a shot at them in the postseason. The Cardinals aim for their fifth straight victory and a three-game sweep of the visiting Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
After taking two of three from wild-card contender San Francisco last weekend, the Cardinals have damaged Washington’s slim playoff hopes with two straight wins, including a stunning 8-5 comeback victory Tuesday. St. Louis scored twice in the eighth to tie it and won it on Brandon Moss’ walk-off homer to move 40 games above .500. Washington ace Max Scherzer, a St. Louis native, looks to snap a five-start winless streak when he makes his second big-league start in his hometown and his first since a loss in 2008. Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha looks to continue his breakout season when he tries to become the fourth pitcher with at least 16 wins in the majors this season.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN, MASN 2 (Washington), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
LINE HISTORY: The Cardinals have been bet from their opening number of -114 to currently sit at -121. The total has held steady at 6.5.
Nationals – SP S. Strasburgh (questionable Friday, back), 1B T. Moore (15-day DL, ankle), RP A. Barrett (15-day DL, elbow), CF D. Span (out for season, hip).
Cardinals – SP C. Martinez (day-to-day, back), SP L. Lynn (questionable Friday, ankle), 1B M. Reynolds (doubtful Wednesday, wrist), CF (15-day DL, wrist), LF M. Holliday (15-day DL, quad), RP M. Harris (15-day DL, groin), 1B M. Adams (early September, quad), CF R. Grichuk (early September, elbow).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a clear night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, wit a temperatures in the mid 80s and a very slight four imle per hour wind blowing out to left field.
UMPIRE REPORT: John Tumpane will be the man calling balls and strikes in tonight’s game. Tumpane is an under umpire, with the under going 16-5-2 when he is behind the plate and has a strike percentage of 63.87. He is also a homer ump, with home teams going 15-8.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “After a monster start to the season, Max Scherzer has tailed off, just 2-6 with a 5.22 ERA his last eight overall team starts. Surprisingly he is also winless, 0-3, this season as an underdog. On the flip side Wacha enters 5-1 with a 0.92 ERA his last six team starts. Better team and better current form arm, points us in the Cardinals direction tonight.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence.
HOT FAN WAR:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (11-11, 2.88 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (15-4, 2.69)
Scherzer turns the page on a tough month of August in which he was 0-3 with a 6.43 ERA in five starts. He has lost his last three turns, including a 4-3 defeat against Miami last time out in which he allowed four runs over seven frames. The 31-year-old is 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals, including a tough-luck loss April 23 in which he gave up two runs in seven frames.
Wacha has won four straight decisions and posted seven consecutive quality starts. The 24-year-old Texan was hurt by his defense in his last outing, as he allowed four runs – all unearned – in six innings in a no-decision at San Francisco. Wacha beat the Nationals on April 23, holding them to one run and five hits over seven innings to improve to 2-1 with a 0.79 ERA in three meetings.
* Nationals are 2-9 in their last 11 road games.
* Cardinals are 6-0 in Wacha’s last six home starts with a total set at 6.5 or lower.
* Over is 4-0 in the Nationals last four road games vs. a right-handed starter.
* Under is 5-0 in Wacha’s last five home starts.
COVERS CONSENSUS: A whopping 73.49 percent of the public is backing the Cardinals at 121.
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