MLB: Dueling aces to deal for hot Cardinals, slumping Giants

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After struggling for much of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals hope to gain ground in the National League playoff race during their season-long 10-game homestand.

That effort will continue Sunday when try to complete a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals defeated the Giants 6-5 in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday and 9-4 at home Saturday at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals have won seven of their past 10 games while the Giants have lost four straight. St. Louis will try to push two games over .500 for the first time this season.

“Obviously we’ve had our ups and downs this season already, but we’re not even halfway through yet,” Cardinals outfielder Alec Burleson told Bally Sports Midwest after his two-homer, five-RBI game Saturday. “We’ve got a lot of ball to play left and I’m just excited for this team to start clicking.”

Sunday’s game features a matchup of staff aces. Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.95 ERA) will start for the Cardinals and Logan Webb (6-5, 2.99 ERA) will go for the Giants.

Gray is coming off his longest start of the season. He held the Miami Marlins to two runs on five hits over 7 2/3 innings on Monday.

He struck out four and walked two in a game the Cardinals eventually won 7-6 in 12 innings. Gray needed just 84 pitches to retire 23 batters.

“I don’t know how many times I got to two strikes, but it couldn’t have been a lot,” Gray said. “I was just taking on the mindset of I’m going to attack the middle part of the plate early. They’re going to swing early. I knew that.”

Gray is 2-1 with a 3.27 ERA in six career starts against the Giants.

Webb met the quality start metric in seven of his past eight starts. In his latest outing, he held the Chicago Cubs to two runs on six hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked one as the Giants lost 5-2 on Tuesday.

Webb had to regroup during the sixth inning after learning that Giants legend Willie Mays had died.

“It was hard at first,” Webb said. “I took my hat off and I was looking at the scoreboard and just thinking about him. I kind of looked at the umpire and I was like, ‘I think you need to stop the clock.’ I needed to take a moment and think about it and be prideful for the jersey I was wearing, the hat I was wearing, knowing Willie did the same.”

Webb is 3-2 with a 5.17 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals.

The Giants placed outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (oblique strain) and pitcher Keaton Winn (elbow inflammation) on the injured list Saturday and summoned outfielder Luis Matos and corner infielder David Villar from Triple-A Sacramento.

Yastrzemski was diagnosed with a mild strain after pulling himself out of Thursday’s game.

“To actually use my brain in that situation and say I think this is the smarter decision to not try and push through it, it was good,” Yastrzemski told NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Cardinals activated reliever Giovanny Gallegos (shoulder impingement) from the injured list this weekend and returned Adam Kloffenstein to Triple-A Memphis. They also placed catcher Ivan Herrera (back tightness) on the injured list and promoted catcher Nick Raposo from Memphis.

St. Louis outfielder Michael Siani and third baseman Nolan Arenado are questionable after exiting Saturday’s game. Siani bruised ribs suffered while making a diving catch and Arenado left with left forearm discomfort.

–Field Level Media

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