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First Pitch: Limping to end of road trip, Cardinals try to avoid sweep in Atlanta

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Manager Oli Marmol called on his starters to provide more consistency and competitive outings and Miles Mikolas answered on Wednesday, putting forth his 11th quality start of the season. However, the offense once  again let him down, getting shut out for the fourth time in Mikolas' starts, and the second time in four days. 

Limping to the end of their seven-game NL East road trip the Cardinals are looking to avoid their second series sweep of the season, and first four-game series sweep. St. Louis sends Matt Liberatore to the mound, needing another quality appearance to give the struggling offense an opportunity to secure enough runs to win. 

While the Cardinals remain the fourth highest-scoring offense in baseball, they are 27th in runs scored so far in July. The lone Cardinal to produce regularly is Nolan Arenado, who leads the MLB in hits (11) and home runs (three).

CARDINALS

1. Brendan Donovan, 3B

2. Juan Yepez, RF

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, DH

5. Nolan Gorman, 2B

6. Lars Nootbar, CF

7. Connor Capel, LF

8. Edmundo Sosa, SS

9. Austin Romine, C

P: Matthew Liberatore, LHP

BRAVES

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., RF

2. Dansby Swans, SS

3. Matt Olson, 1B

4. Austin Riley, 3B

5. Travis d'Arnaud, C

6. Marcell Ozuna, DH

7. Adam Duvall, LF

8. Orlando Arcia, 2B

9. Michael Harris II, CF

P: Spencer Strider, RHP 

Pitching matchup

LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.66 ERA): The top pitching prospect gets another opportunity to solidify his spot in the major league rotation. In his last outing, he couldn't escape the third inning, allowing five runs on seven hits. The rookie southpaw has had yo-yoing success, alternating good starts with bad ones in each of his five appearances.

RHP Spencer Strider (4-2, 2.87 ERA): Serving as a reliever in 2021, Strider has become a full-time starter in 2022 and has been generally successful in his seven starts this season. Strider is known for his fastball, throwing four-seamers more often than any other pitcher in baseball at an eye-popping 69% rate. He registers 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and regularly registers pitches of at least 100 mph. 

Wild cards

  • Four Cardinals — Steven Matz, Tyler O'Neill, Corey Dickerson, and TJ McFarland — appeared last night for the AAA Memphis Red Birds on rehab assignments. Drew VerHagan started for High-A Peoria.
  • The Braves have had the Cardinals' number of late, winning eight of the last nine against St. Louis. St. Louis has not won a series against Atlanta since 2018. Things have not been the same for St. Louis in Atlanta since the Braves left Fulton County Stadium. The Cards were 104-39 at Fulton, and have gone 34-50 at Turner Field and Truist Park combined.

Three up

  1. How Cardinals chose matchup over magic, pinch-hitting for Pujols in pivotal at-bat vs. Atlanta
  2. Cardinals notebook: Naughton's 'courage,' Marmol's pledge, and seeking relief for bullpen

  3. Quick Hits: Not even Mikolas can keep Cardinals from reeling as Braves silence lineup, 3-0

Three down

  1. Derrick Goold reunites with Bernie Miklasz for the 10th anniversary of the Best Podcast in Baseball

  2. Hochman: Cardinals legends Gibson, White and Flood profiled in powerful documentary 'After Jackie'

  3. Ten Hochman: Marmol’s ‘this isn’t a tryout’ quote speaks volumes to Cardinals Nation​

 

Injury updates

  • OF Tyler O’Neill went two-for-three and had a double Monday for Class AAA Memphis. The Redbirds have an off day Tuesday. He has been on the injured list with a torn hamstring. The Cardinals expect him to increase his playing time with the Redbirds and possibly return when the Cardinals do for a home stand that begins Friday. (Updated July 5)
  • OF Corey Dickerson (calf muscle) will play the first five innings for AAA Memphis Wednesday and will get at least two at-bats as he returns to rehab appearances. (Updated July 5)
  • OF Harrison Bader has been placed on the 10-day IL with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He has been able to take swings and throw at Busch Stadium and says he felt improved. (Updated July 6)
  • RHP Johan Oviedo has had reduced pain and was able to play catch Tuesday, the day after taking an 111mph line drive off the hand. (Updated July 6)
  • LHP Steven Matz (shoulder) threw three innings for AAA Memphis Saturday night, allowing one run on four hits against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The start was his second rehab assignment after throwing two innings Tuesday. He is scheduled to make two more rehab appearances before returning to the majors. (Updated July 6)
  • LHP Genesis Cabrera threw to hitters Tuesday afternoon at Truist Park and could be back with the Cardinals by Thursday. A judgement will be made Wednesday after he recovers from his workout. (Updated July 6)
  • LHP T.J. McFarland will pitch an inning at AAA Memphis Wednesday in his first rehab appearance since missing time with COVID. (Updated July 6)
  • RHP Drew VerHagen will start Wednesday for High-A Peoria and is scheduled to throw an inning in his first rehab appearance. He was placed on the 15-day IL with a right shoulder impingement. (Updated July 6)
  • RHP Jack Flaherty (shoulder) has been placed on the 15-day IL with a right shoulder strain. The initial steps of his recovery will take place in Los Angeles, where Flaherty makes his offseason home and close to a doctor who has been reviewing his injury. (Updated July 4)
  • C Yadier Molina (right-knee inflammation) has been placed on the 10-day IL due to an aggravated right knee, the placement is retroactive to June 16. He has been prescribed several weeks of rest before ramping up activities. There is no timetable for his return. Molina has returned to Puerto Rico to rest and the club will check in next week. In a text message to his manager, Molina said the knee is "feeling better," but he has not resumed baseball activities. (Updated July 4)
  • RHP Alex Reyes (torn labrum) required surgery to repair damage in his right throwing shoulder. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season. (Updated June 15)
  • RHP Jake Walsh (elbow) received PRP treatment, and has been shut down for six to eight weeks. (Updated June 24)

Who's next

Friday vs Philadelphia: RHP Adam Wainwright (6-6 3.26 ERA) vs Zack Wheeler (7-4, 2.66)

Saturday vs Philadelphia: RHP Dakota Hudson (6-5, 4.29 ERA) vs Kyle Gibson (4-3, 4.91) 

Sunday vs Philadelphia: RHP Andre Pallante (2-4, 3.03) vs TBA

Monday vs Philadelphia: RHP Miles Mikolas (5-7. 2.72) vs RHP Aaron Nola (5-6, 3.15)

Up next

The Cardinals continue to swing through the NL East, finishing their four games in Atlanta before returning home to face the Phillies. 

Check back here throughout the evening for immediate coverage of the game and any news that surfaces from the Cardinals' pre-game activities. We will publish expanded game coverage online Thursday night, and also in the pages of Friday's Post-Dispatch.

Cardinals notebook: Naughton's 'courage,' Marmol's pledge, and seeking relief for bullpen
Pitching crisis? Cardinals need starters to pile up innings, give bullpen a break
Quick Hits: Not even Mikolas can keep Cardinals from reeling as Braves silence lineup, 3-0
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