The Cincinnati Reds try to take over the second spot in the National League Wild-Card race when they face the St. Louis Cardinals in the last of a three-game series between NL Central rivals on Sunday. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:15 pm ET at Busch Stadium.
The Reds lost the second game of the series on Saturday, 6-4, their fifth consecutive game of alternating between wins and losses. Cincinnati is 75-68 and in second place in the NL Central, trailing the first-place Milwaukee Brewers by 13 games. The Reds are also percentage points behind the San Diego Padres for the second Wild-Card spot in the National League.
St. Louis snapped a five-game losing streak in home games to the Reds. The Cardinals are 72-69 and in third place in the NL Central, two games behind the second-place Reds. St. Louis is also two games behind the Reds and the Padres for the second National League Wild-Card spot.
MLB lines have the Reds with a moneyline of -119, while the Cardinals are listed at +109, with the over/under set at 8½ runs.
The Reds looked like they were on their way to a second straight win over the Cardinals on Saturday, taking a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning. But Cincinnati wouldn’t score again and lost, missing out on the opportunity to move up in the Wild-Card standings when the Padres also lost.
Outfielder Nick Castellanos had his 28th home run, pushing his RBI total to 81. It was his second home run in four games and sixth in 58 at-bats against St. Louis.
Rookie third baseman Jonathan India also had his second home run in four games, giving him 20. India is batting .361 against Cardinals pitchers, hitting four doubles, a triple, and three home runs with eight RBIs in 61 at-bats.
Right-hander Sonny Gray will be on the mound for Cincinnati. Gray is 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA and will be making his fourth start against the Cardinals.
In those previous three starts, Gray has gone 1-2 with an 11.25 ERA over 12 innings. He did pick up a win against St. Louis in his Sept. 1 start, going five innings and allowing two runs on two hits, both solo home runs.
The Cardinals have been quite happy with their offseason acquisition of third baseman Nolan Arenado, but they would certainly be happier if he could get hot and lead them to the playoffs. He started that on Saturday night, hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to provide the winning margin in the contest.
“I’m here to drive runs in, and I’m here to help the team win,” Arenado said after Saturday’s win. “I had an opportunity there against a good pitcher, and I was fortunate enough to hit a pitch up and hit it out of the ballpark. I said it yesterday, and I feel like I haven’t done a great job of that, but it felt good today to do it.”
The home run was Arenado’s 30th and fourth this month. He’s batting .243 in September with 10 RBIs, with Saturday’s two-hit game — he also had an RBI triple — snapping a three-game hitless streak.
Shortstop Paul DeJong started the Cardinals’ comeback with a solo home run in the third. DeJong has 9 hits in 45 at-bats against the Reds but three have been home runs.
Left-hander J.A. Happ will get the start for St. Louis. The 38-year-old is 8-8 with a 6.24 ERA this season, splitting time between the Twins and the Cardinals.
Happ has struggled in September, going 0-2 with a 16.50 ERA. He started against the Reds on Sept. 1 and lasted just one inning, allowing seven runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in a 12-2 St. Louis loss in seven innings.
Reds Win Finale
Gray has had his troubles against St. Louis this season, but he turned it around in his last start against the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Happ is fresh off his ugly start against Cincinnati 12 days ago and wasn’t much better in his last outing either.
Cincinnati gains a little ground on winning the Wild Card with a win in the series finale.
When doing your MLB betting, take Cincinnati to win on the road.