The St. Louis Cardinals and the Toronto Blue Jays will square off tonight in the final game of a two-game set at Rogers Centre.
A George Springer grand slam and an Alejandro Kirk homer gave Toronto its seventh straight win last night as they defeated the Cardinals 10-3. Toronto is now 8-1 under manager John Schneider.
Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.00 ERA) will toe the slab for the Blue Jays tonight. The venerable right-hander got more than enough run support in his last outing, in which the Blue Jays dropped four touchdowns worth of runs on the Boston Red Sox. Gausman has the best FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in baseball.
The Cardinals will counter with Adam Wainwright (6-8, 3.40 ERA), who is in the midst of a solid season for an aging pitcher.
All-Stars Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have not played in this series because of their vaccination status. The Cardinals will be happy to have their two sluggers back when they travel to D.C. to take on the Nationals.
Let’s take a look at the angles tonight for this interleague bird battle.
Blue Jays Flying High
Here comes Toronto. The team up north has been scorching since the All-Star break, and the offense is beginning to round into the form heading into the closing months of the season.
Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Kirk have powered the Blue Jays’ attack as of late, and although they probably will not catch the AL East-leading New York Yankees, the Blue Jays sit two games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card race.
Springer is hitting .391 in his last five games. Guerrero Jr. has bumped his average up to .279 and continues to be one of the hardest hitters in the league, placing fourth in max exit velocity.
The Blue Jays have the highest batting average (.268) in MLB and have been piling up runs at an absurd rate since the firing of Charlie Montoyo, averaging 6.1 runs per game.
Wainwright will always garner respect from the opponent, but Toronto is a different beast right now. The three-time All-Star has not been good on the road this season and gets touched by right-handed hitting, a tasty recipe for a hungry Blue Jay offense. Home teams have a .808 OPS against Wainwright.
Thankfully, the Cardinals play in one of the weaker divisions in baseball. St. Louis just cannot seem to find any consistency this season, and although they are right in the thick of the NL Wild Card race, the Philadelphia Phillies are staying on their tail.
It is not easy to win without Arenado and Goldschmidt, the lifeblood of the offense. The Cardinals need elite pitching to win against Toronto, but they did not get that last night. Wainwright will look to change the Cardinals’ fortunes and get out of Canada with a win.
Down Goldschmidt, Albert Pujols has taken over duties at first base. The 42-year old is batting .228 with six home runs and 21 RBIs. He will get another ovation tonight as he in all likelihood plays his final game in Canada.
Gausman is good, but he can be unreliable. Wainwright is good as well, but his stats on the road are not encouraging. He surrendered seven to Cincinnati last week and four to the Phillies earlier this month.
Toronto is surging right now and should put up plenty of runs and coast into a four-game set with Detroit.
Take the Blue Jays -1.5 (-125 at Caesars Sportsbook) and watch some offensive fireworks.