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The Cardinals continued their recent dominance of the National League on Wednesday night as they dismantled the Brewers 10-2 to earn their 11th consecutive victory -- matching their longest win streak from the past 20 years.
How they got there, is the way that they’ve played for most of this streak -- great pitching, power from the middle of the lineup and aggressive baserunning.
Miles Mikolas got it done on the mound for the Cardinals, hurling seven innings of two-run baseball to cruise to his second win of the season. He scattered just four hits on the night and didn’t walk a batter.
Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill provided the thunder in the middle of the lineup -- O’Neill with a two-run blast in the opening inning and Goldschmidt with a two-run bomb in the eighth to cap it off.
They also showed off their aggressive baserunning. In the second inning, The Cardinals had runners at second and third base with one out for Tommy Edman. Edman crushed a ball to the wall in center field, where Lorenzo Cain made a nice leaping catch to take away an extra-base hit. Edmundo Sosa scored easily from third base on the sacrifice fly, but Harrison Bader read it the whole way and was tagging from second base as well. As soon as the ball hit Cain’s glove, he motored around third and came all the way around to score making it the team’s first two-run sacrifice fly since 2009.
During this impressive streak, the Cardinals have gone from three games out of the second Wild Card berth in the National League to now holding a 4 1/2 game lead on that highly-coveted spot in the postseason.
Also of note, with the victory, the Cardinals secured their 14th consecutive season with a winning record.
The Cardinals also get their ace back on Friday, as Jack Flaherty (shoulder) will return on a “very limited pitch count” for the second game of their doubleheader against the Cubs. This is starting to look like a team that could be very dangerous in October.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Ian Anderson - 7 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 33% CSW, 15 swinging strikes
The 23-year-old right-hander delivered his finest start since returning from the injured list -- and perhaps of the season -- on Wednesday, hurling seven innings of one-run ball in a victory over the Diamondbacks. Remember, this is a guy who posted a 0.96 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 18 2/3 innings in four postseason starts last season -- nearly leading the Braves to a spot in the World Series. Getting him rolling as the regular season ends is a major boon to the Braves title aspirations.
Zack Wheeler - 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 9 K, 32% CSW, 15 swinging strikes
Wheeler delivered another tremendous outing in a tough-luck no-decision against the Orioles on Wednesday, racking up nine strikeouts over six innings of one-run baseball. He departed with a 2-1 lead, which the Phillies bullpen was quick to squander. After a rough month of August, Wheeler has bounced back in a big way in September -- allowing a total of three runs over four starts this month. He now boasts a 2.79 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 240/45 K/BB ratio across 206 1/3 innings in his 31 starts.
Chris Sale - 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 27% CSW, 15 swinging strikes
Every year around the trade deadline, you hear teams spin the narrative that they don’t need to make a major acquisition because they expect a particular player to return from injury and he’ll be like their deadline deal. It doesn’t often play out that way, but in the Red Sox case, Chris Sale has been outstanding in his return from Tommy John surgery. Sale picked up his fifth victory in his first seven starts on Wednesday, limiting the Mets to two runs while striking out eight over five innings. The star southpaw boasts a 2.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 39/8 K/BB ratio over his first 35 innings.
Hitters with an EDGE
Juan Soto - 3-for-3, HR (27), 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB
The 22-year-old superstar was written off by many early in the season as a first-round bust after he got off to a slow start and spent some time on the injured list. Let’s just say, those doubts were cast prematurely. Soto reached base in all five of his plate appearances in this one, crushing a two-run homer off of Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez along the way. He’s now slashing an absurd .321/.466/.544 to go along with 27 homers, 90 RBI and nine swipes in 141 games.
Kyle Schwarber - 3-for-4, 2 HR (31), 2B, 4 RBI, 4 R, BB
A mighty impressive day for the 28-year-old slugger in a lopsided victory over the Mets. He smacked a solo homer off of Taijuan Walker in the opening inning, then crushed a three-run shot in the second to extend the Red Sox lead to 6-1. He has now driven in nine runs over his last five ballgames. On the season, Schwarber is slashing a healthy .265/.365/.559 with 31 dingers and 70 RBI in just 104 games between the Nationals and Red Sox.
Max Kepler - 3-for-4, 2 HR (19), 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R
Kepler provided the bulk of the Twins offense in Wednesday’s victory over the Cubs. He crushed a two-run homer off of Kyle Hendricks to open the scoring in the first inning, then tacked on a solo shot in the fourth to put the Twins ahead 3-2. It has been a disappointing season for him overall though, slashing just .213/.312/.428 with 19 long balls and 52 RBI.
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EDGE Priority Pickup
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners -- Available in 54% of Yahoo fantasy leagues
Alright, I get it. The 22-year-old outfielder has been one of the biggest disappointments of the entire 2021 season and crushed many fantasy managers who called his name in the middle rounds of drafts back in March. Yes, he’s hitting just .175/.258/.348 in 83 games this season. So why would we want to pick him up for the final week and a half? Well, his bat has shown signs of life -- hitting .265/.324/.618 with six homers, 15 RBI and three stolen bases since the calendar flipped to September. Also, the Mariners play every day from here on out, most of those games are against right-handed pitching and six of those 10 games are against the weak pitching of the Angels. All of that combined, it’s worth taking a shot that Kelenic can be a useful mixed league contributor from here on out.
Tanner Rainey vs. Marlins - 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K (2nd save)
This wasn’t a traditional save chance, as the Nationals entered the ninth inning leading 7-2, but Rainey had to be summoned after Ryne Harper served up a pair of homers to make it a two-run ballgame. Rainey made quick work of the Marlins, getting Miguel Rojas and Jazz Chisholm to ground out harmlessly. He still owns a cringe-inducing 6.91 ERA and 1.64 WHIP on the season, so don’t expect him to usurp the closer’s role from Kyle Finnegan in the final week and a half of the season.
Ian Kennedy vs. Orioles - 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 1 K (25th save)
It wasn’t the smoothest of innings this time around for the veteran right-hander, but Kennedy still managed to get the job done to protect a one-run advantage in the ninth inning. After getting Richie Martin to fly out and Kelvin Gutierrez on strikes, Kennedy issued back-to-back two-out walks to Jahmai Jones and Cedric Mullins. He then battled Ryan Mountcastle for eight pitches before getting him to fly out to end the game. Kennedy now sports a 3.51 ERA and 1.11 WHIP to go along with 25 successful saves on the season.
Drew Steckenrider vs. Athletics - 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K (11th save)
While it still seems like it’s a closer-by-committee situation in Seattle -- with Paul Sewald and Diego Castillo also in the mix -- Steckenrider has now recorded four of the last five saves for the Mariners, including back-to-back nights against the Athletics. In this one, he came on with a three-run lead to protect and allowed a leadoff double to Starling Marte but nothing more. On the season, the right-hander holds a terrific 2.17 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 55/17 K/BB ratio over 62 1/3 innings.
Thursday’s Matchup of the Day
I’ll be honest, there are a ton of interesting matchups or worthwhile pitching performances that I’ll try to catch on Thursday. Max Scherzer takes the hill for the Dodgers against the Rockies at Coors Field. Chris Bassitt makes his triumphant return to the hill after taking a scary line drive off of his face last month. Yu Darvish will go toe-to-toe with Logan Webb in San Diego.
The game that I’ll be most interested in though, will be in Milwaukee, where the Cardinals attempt to run their winning streak to 12 games -- which would be the longest in MLB this season. To do so, they’ll have to beat Adrian Houser who has been pretty good himself this season.
The 28-year-old right-hander carries a 9-6 record, 3.43 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 101/60 K/BB ratio over 131 1/3 innings on the season. Not bad for the Brewers fourth starter. He has faced the Cardinals twice this season -- hurling a total of 14 scoreless innings, including a complete game three-hit shutout with seven strikeouts on September 4 in St. Louis.
On the other side, Adam Wainwright will look to continue to defy Father Time as he takes the mound for the 31st time this season. He brings in an outstanding 16-7 record, 2.89 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 169/46 K/BB ratio across 196 1/3 innings. If all goes according to plan on Thursday, he’ll cross the 200 innings threshold for the first time since 2014.
The 40-year-old hurler has faced the Brewers three times this season, registering a 2.08 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 14/7 K/BB ratio over 17 1/3 innings against his divisional foe.
American League Quick Hits: Shane Bieber (shoulder) will return to the Indians rotation on Friday against the White Sox. … Wednesday’s game between the Tigers and White Sox was postponed due to rain, it will be made up on Monday. … The Royals and Indians were also postponed due to inclement weather, their game will also be made up on Monday. … The Yankees activated Domingo German from the 10-day IL. He’ll work out of the team’s bullpen. … Nelson Cruz was held out of Wednesday’s lineup due to illness. … Jameson Taillon (ankle) threw 51 pitches over three innings of two-run ball in a minor league rehab start at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … The Orioles placed Ramon Urias on the 10-day IL with a right adductor strain. … Daulton Jefferies has been diagnosed with a flexor strain and will not return this season. … Randy Arozarena went 3-for-5 and scored a pair of runs as the Rays topped the Blue Jays. … Joey Ryan struck out 11 over five innings of two-run ball in an impressive victory over the Cubs. … Gary Sanchez smacked a two-run homer as the Yankees beat the Rangers. … Chris Flexen racked up seven strikeouts over six innings of one-run baseball in a victory over the Athletics. … Luis Garcia fired six shutout innings in a tough-luck no-decision against the Angels. … Yordan Alvarez went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI as the Astros topped the Angels in 12 innings.
National League Quick Hits: Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado was removed from Wednesday’s game with lower back tightness. He’s considered day-to-day. … Kolten Wong was also lifted from that game due to renewed hamstring tightness. He’s also considered day-to-day for the time being, but be sure to check his status on Thursday. … The Reds inked manager David Bell to a two-year contract extension. … Wednesday’s battle between the Reds and Pirates was postponed due to rain. It will be made up on Monday. … David Bednar (oblique) is scheduled to throw live batting practice later this week. … JT Brubaker (shoulder) has resumed his throwing program, though he’s not expected to return this season. … The Reds placed Mike Moustakas back on the injured list with right foot plantar fasciitis. … Wade Miley (neck) will have his next start skipped. … Jake Faria elected free agency after being designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks. … Carter Kieboom (thumb) returned to the Nationals lineup on Wednesday. … Rockies outfielder Connor Joe (hamstring) has been shut down for the remainder of the season. … The Marlins designated Taylor Williams for assignment. … The Giants signed John Nogowski to a minor league contract. … The Dodgers activated A.J. Pollock (hamstring) from the injured list and designated Shane Greene for assignment. … Noah Syndergaard retired all three hitters that he faced in his rehab outing with Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday. ... Pete Alonso slugged his 35th home run in a losing effort against the Red Sox. … Josiah Gray picked up his first big league win, limiting the Marlins to two runs over six innings while striking out eight. … Walker Buehler was torched for five runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies at Coors Field. … C.J. Cron went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles as the Rockies crushed the Dodgers. … Freddie Freeman went 3-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and two RBI in a victory over the Diamondbacks. … Scott Kazmir allowed just one unearned run over four innings in a no-decision against the Padres… Buster Posey went 4-for-5 with two doubles and three runs scored in a victory over the Padres.