The busy St. Louis Cardinals will play their third doubleheader in six days when they host the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.
The Cardinals (18-17) have remained in the NL playoff chase despite having to play catchup in scheduling after their COVID-19 outbreak. The Tigers (19-22) have also stayed in the AL race, which is surprising success for a team that lost 114 games last season.
“There’s no cashing in in September right now,” Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull said earlier this week. “We’re all hungry. We can smell the blood in the water. We want to play in October. We’ve been dreaming about that for a while. Especially here in Detroit. … I think we’re all excited.”
The Cardinals will start Jack Flaherty (2-1, 2.95 ERA) and Austin Gomber (0-0, 0.64 ERA) in the seven-inning games at Busch Stadium.
Flaherty last just 2 2/3 innings in his last start, a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday. In his four starts since the team’s COVID-19 shutdown, he has failed to work more than five innings in a game.
“I just wasn’t very good,” Flaherty said after Friday’s game. “I didn’t execute very well. Didn’t execute my slider, didn’t execute my fastball, didn’t execute my curveball. Didn’t really execute at all. That’s pretty much the way it goes when you don’t execute, and they’re able to fight off the pitches you do execute.”
Gomber worked out of the bullpen this season before making a doubleheader start against the Cubs. He threw a scoreless 2 2/3 innings and struck out five batters in a 5-1 victory.
The Tigers will start rookie Tarik Skubal (1-1, 4.70 ERA) and Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Skubal held the Twins to one run on two hits and two walks in six innings in his last start, a 4-1 loss in which he took a no-decision.
Skubal was a ninth-round pick in the 2018 draft out of Seattle University. He has struck out 14 batters in 15 1/3 innings.
“He’s starting to settle in,” bench coach Lloyd McClendon said after that game. “I think the goosebumps are gone and the sweaty palms are gone. He’s starting to believe that he belongs, and that’s important. You see it in the tempo. You can see it in his mannerisms. He’s throwing the ball a lot better.”
Zimmermann will make his first start since returning from the injured list. He suffered a forearm strain late in the summer camp.
“He’s anxious to get here and go with us,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s very excited. With everything he’s been through this year, he’s feeling good.”
The Tigers could use a lift from Zimmermann since their starting pitchers have posted a collective 6.45 ERA, the worst in the majors.
On Wednesday, the Tigers optioned outfielder Christin Stewart to their alternate training site and promoted prospect Daz Cameron. They called up pitcher Nick Ramirez and sent out John Schreiber and Kyle Funkhouser.
Starting pitcher Ivan Nova (right triceps) and outfielder JaCoby Jones (hand) have been transferred to the 45-day injured list.
–Field Level Media