MLB: After rainout, Cardinals seek to stay hot in clash vs. Cubs

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After waiting two months to face each other for the first time this season, the arch-rival Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals had to wait another day.

Their first showdown of 2024 was postponed when rain in the St. Louis area washed out Friday’s game at Busch Stadium. That game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on July 13.

These teams will play an abbreviated two-game series on Saturday and Sunday. That created a better pitching scenario for the Cardinals, who have won three games in a row and eight of their last 10.

The postponement allowed the Cardinals to push scheduled Friday starter Miles Mikolas (3-5. 5.77 ERA) back a day and skip the No. 5 slot, where Matthew Liberatore had been filling in.

That spot in St. Louis’ starting rotation has been problematic since Steven Matz landed on the injured list with a back injury.

Liberatore has allowed eight runs on 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings over his last two starts. The failure to work deeper into games has put extra stress on the Cardinals’ bullpen.

“He’s taking his best shot for the situation that we’re in, and it does complicate things for the ‘pen a little bit because you end up overextending guys,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “You’re asking them to do more than they need to do, and they’re out there for extra outs, an extra inning.”

Mikolas is coming off of his best start of the season. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits over five innings in his team’s 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox last Saturday but came away with a no-decision.

Mikolas has allowed five or more runs four times during his up-and-down season. He is 5-4 with a 2.58 ERA against the Cubs in 19 career appearances, including 17 starts.

First-year sensation Shota Imanaga (5-0, 0.84 ERA) was slated to get the nod on Friday, but the Cubs elected to push his next start to the following series. The Cubs are 8-1 in the games he has started this season.

Imanaga has thrown 12 scoreless innings in his last two starts while striking out 15, walking four and allowing 11 hits.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon (3-2, 2.20 ERA) will start Saturday as originally scheduled for the Cubs.

Taillon went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his first four starts this season. But he lost his last two while allowing 10 runs (five earned) on 13 hits in 8 2/3 innings. He walked five in those starts and allowed three homers.

“I thought (Jameson) pitched well,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said after Taillon yielded three runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. “Defensively we didn’t help him necessarily, and that added to the pitches for sure, got the pitches up there. We had the game in kind of a spot. He got huge strikeout of Oneil Cruz to really help out. We just couldn’t get that next out in the fifth inning. They came up with the big hit. But Jamo threw the ball well.”

Taillon was 2-0 with a 3.77 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings over three starts against the Cardinals last season. In his career, he is 5-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 12 starts against them.

–Field Level Media

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