MLB: Cards turn to Miles Mikolas in bid for sweep of Red Sox

The St. Louis Cardinals will send right-hander Miles Mikolas to the mound on Sunday night when they attempt to sweep a three-game road series against the Boston Red Sox.

Mikolas, 34, was an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2022, when he made a career-high 33 appearances for St. Louis and went 12-13 with a 3.29 ERA.

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But Mikolas (1-1, 5.40 ERA this season) has never faced the Red Sox. He is coming off a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs on Monday, when he allowed one run on four hits in 4 1/3 innings during his team’s 3-1 victory. He walked three and struck out seven.

Willson Contreras won’t catch Mikolas on Sunday, but St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said Contreras will be behind the plate when the Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers at home Monday.

Contreras, who joined the Cardinals as a free agent following the 2022 season, was moved to designated hitter after he caught 23 games for St. Louis this year.

At the time, Marmol said the move was made so Contreras could get a better understanding of how to execute the game plan with each of the team’s pitchers.

“We have felt really good about the progress that we’ve made, and it lines up really well for him to catch on Monday with Jack (Flaherty) on the mound,” Marmol told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before Saturday’s 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

Contreras, a three-time All-Star catcher while he played for the Chicago Cubs, was signed to a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Cardinals to replace the retired Yadier Molina.

Contreras hasn’t started at catcher since a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on May 4.

Right-hander Corey Kluber (2-4, 6.29) is scheduled to start for Boston on Sunday.

Despite his high ERA, Kluber may be rounding into form. The two-time Cy Young Award recipient has limited opponents to seven earned runs while posting a 2-0 record in his last three starts.

Kluber has made three career appearances (all starts) against St. Louis. He’s 2-1 with a 5.52 ERA and has 25 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings.

He gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings during a 7-4 win at Philadelphia on May 6. He struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.

Boston closer Kenley Jansen surrendered three runs in the ninth inning in each of the first two games in the series. The Red Sox lost 8-6 on Friday and 4-3 Saturday to fall to 1-4 in their last five games.

Jansen walked the first two batters he faced Saturday. Ball four on the second walk came on one of Jansen’s three pitching violations in the inning.

“The hitter needs to be in the box and alert at the latest at eight (seconds left on the pitch clock),” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Saturday’s game. “The pitcher needs to give the hitter time to be in the box and alert. I think the whole thing was they were getting in the box at eight and Kenley was going already. They give you a warning, and then after that it’s an automatic ball. The rule is the rule, and that’s what happened the whole inning.

“This is the first time it has happened to him and to us.”

Nolan Arenado has homered in each of the first two games in the series for the Cardinals, who have won five of their last six games. Arenado has five home runs in his last seven games in Boston.

–Field Level Media

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