The only part of the St Louis Cardinals being in first place is that fact that it took them almost 100 games to do so. A win over the slumping Dodgers combined with a Brewers loss to the Nats in Washington has the National League Central deadlocked at the top. MLB experts expected the Cards to win this division based on how they finished last year, and the fact that they continue to pump out high level major league players out of their farm system. A sweep of Los Angeles on Sunday has the potential to give them the outright lead in the Central. There’s a good chance that once they do, they won’t look back.
Carlos Martinez is a perfect of example of how the Cardinals conduct business. His contract was voided by the Red Sox after a discrepancy over his name and birthdate, and the scouting department for the Cards realized his potential and picked him up in 2010. His 2-4 record and 4.43 earned run average don’t accurately represent the talent that this 22 year old prospect has. He has all the tools needed to be a star in this league including a fastball in the upper 90’s. Sunday night’s task will not be easy as he goes pitch for pitch with what many consider the best in the game.
Clayton Kershaw has been nothing short of spectacular over his last 7 starts. His ERA was 3.57 back on May 28th after allowing 3 runs to the Reds in what turned out to be a 3-2 loss. Since that day he’s given up just 5 earned runs in his last 61 innings, and is primed to win his 2nd Cy Young award once he becomes eligible. The toughest thing for Kershaw tonight won’t be the Cardinals lineup, but his own. The Boys in Blue have scored just 12 runs in their last 7 games, and have fallen back behind the surging Giants in the highly contested N.L. West. They have lost the mojo they had when they rattled off 15 wins in 21 games back in June. Yasiel Puig and the remainder of the Dodgers batting order will need to find their groove again if they are to keep pace with the consistent and well-rounded Giants.
Baseball handicappers have the Dodgers and Kershaw listed as hefty -185 road favorites against a St Louis squad that is 10 games over .500. That’s how much respect the oddsmakers have for him. Tune in tonight as the Cards look for the series sweep and huge win over the best pitcher in baseball.