Cardinals, Cubs gear up for important division series

Annette Crawford
September 18, 2017

Chicago leads the National League Central by 2 1/2 games over Milwaukee and is three games ahead of St. Louis.

Seth Lugo (6-4, 4.64 ERA) draws the start for NY, while Chicago will go with Jsen-Ho Tseng in his Major League Baseball debut. The Mets have dropped three straight following a four-game winning streak, and they've allowed 35 runs during the skid.

The 2017 season was better, as Johnson pitched nearly exclusively in a relief role and posted improvements in ERA (4.34 ERA), strikeout rate (12.3 K/9) and walk rate (4.5 BB/9). On the plus side, he did strike out six while walking just one. Mike Montgomery will once again fill Jake Arrieta's spot in the series finale Thursday as Arrieta is still recovering from a Grade 1 right hamstring strain he sustained against the Pirates on Labor Day.

"Maybe when you trade a guy like that somebody else is unleashed", Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. It's likely what will be needed against the third-ranked Cardinals staff. "I think a lot of the resurgence with the Cardinals is they're getting a lot of good bump from young players". The Mets travel to Atlanta to open a three-game series Friday.

Jose Reyes homered leading off the game for NY, and Dominic Smith had a two-run drive in the eighth.

On Wednesday, Maddon told him he'd get the start. We got to hit good pitching. It's going to come back to us. Opponents have hit.248 against the Cubs and the Cubs have 737 strikeouts as starters.


The biggest names at the heart of the Cubs' lineup have struggled at the plate in September. The North Siders scored 14-plus runs in consecutive games for the first time since July 20-July 21, 2003. Chicago has 206 home runs so far this season, the fourth-highest total in team history and 29 off the franchise record set in 2004.

Anthony Rizzo's recent numbers are nearly as sour as Bryant's. Smith opened with a leadoff home run to right for his 19th homer of the season. d'Arnaud followed with his 12th of the season on Tseng's next pitch, the seventh time this season NY has hit back-to-back homers.

On Tuesday, Willson Contreras made his first start since being activated from the disabled list.

Martinez is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against the Cubs this year. They've already lost reliever Hector Rondon for the time being due to inflammation in his right arm, and Epstein said Justin Wilson is working through some issues, too. After running the bases, hitting and taking fielding this week, Russell said he's ready. Russell has been working out in preparation for a return from the 10-day disabled list, which he has been on since August 3. He missed six weeks because of a stress injury in his right shoulder blade.

The Cubs exploded with big innings, scoring five in the fourth and five in the sixth.

Nido, 23, hit.232 with eight homers and 60 RBIs in 102 games with Binghamton. The Yankees continue a four-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles with Luis Severino starting Friday for NY.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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