Rockies-Cardinals Preview


Few may have expected Lance Lynn to be this successful during his initial half-season in the St. Louis Cardinals' starting rotation, but he hasn't produced many highlights lately.

His manager seems to believe those recent struggles are nothing more than growing pains.

Lynn looks to end a rough stretch in his last appearance before heading to the All-Star Game when St. Louis hosts the Colorado Rockies in the finale of a four-game set Thursday night.

Lynn (10-4, 3.62 ERA) is mired in a dismal slump, going 0-2 with a 9.98 ERA over his last three starts. He allowed six runs - including a first-inning grand slam - in five frames of a 7-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"This is the best I've felt all year and I'm not getting the job done,'' Lynn said. "I'm not worried about my health or innings or anything like that. I've just got to start getting people out again."

Lynn had cruised through most of the first half and picked up his 10th win while dropping his ERA to 2.42 against the White Sox on June 13, helping earn an All-Star spot despite his recent woes.

"I don't think anybody thought that he was just going to keep rolling through this league," manager Mike Matheny said. "You're going to have your bumps, and it's how quick you adjust.''

The right-hander, who has never faced Colorado, was 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA at home prior to Monday's rough outing, and he'll look to bounce back and help St. Louis earn its fourth victory in five games.

The Cardinals (43-39) defeated the Rockies 4-1 on Wednesday as Matt Holliday went 3 for 4 and David Freese drove in two runs.

Holliday is hitting .516 with four homers and 19 RBIs over his last 17 contests, raising his average from .267 to .319 in the process.

"His numbers are pretty indicative of what he's been able to do lately,'' Matheny said. "Every time he walks in there he knows he's going to hit the ball hard.''

Carlos Gonzalez is on a similar tear for Colorado, and he extended his hitting streak to 12 by going 2 for 4 on Wednesday. He's batting .398 over his last 20 contests, though the Rockies have dropped 13 of those.

Colorado (31-50), which has totaled 11 runs while dropping four of five, is tied with the Chicago Cubs for the worst record in the majors.

Manager Jim Tracy, who has continued limiting his starters to 75 pitches in a four-man rotation, will send Christian Friedrich to the mound Thursday.

After losing four consecutive starts, Friedrich (4-5, 5.52) was in line for a win Saturday after allowing one run in five innings against San Diego and exiting with a 2-1 lead. But the Rockies' bullpen imploded in an 8-4 loss.

He hasn't won since beating Arizona on June 4.

"It's unfortunate because the job that Christian Friedrich did was just exceptional," Tracy said. "He got us exactly where we needed.''

The Cardinals have won 10 of the last 13 meetings with the Rockies, including eight of 10 at Busch Stadium.