Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Cards at Cubs

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With the Cardinals and Cubs about to bring the first half of the season to a close, here’s some things to consider…

On the bump

– Adam Wainwright (9-5, 3.09) toes the rubber for the Cardinals. He
tossed 8 1/3 shutout innings in his last start against the Brewers on
Tuesday. Wainwright has allowed two runs or less in four out of his
last five starts, lowering his ERA from 3.49 to 3.09 in the process. He
has pitched six or more innings in 16 straight starts dating back to
April 11.

– Randy Wells (4-3, 2.48) starts the nightcap for the Cubs. Wells
allowed two runs over six innings in a 4-2 win over the Braves in his
last start on Monday. He has won four consecutive starts, allowing two
runs or less in each of them. This is his first career start against
the Cardinals.

Back in the lineup

– Derrek Lee is back in the lineup after leaving Saturday’s game
with neck spasms. After a .189 April, the 34-year-old first baseman has
rebounded, compiling a .281/.356/.514 line with 17 homers and 56 RBI.

Rookie of the Year?

– After struggling through April and May, Colby Rasmus has asserted
himself as the prohibitive favorite in the National League Rookie of
the Year race. He currently leads all rookies in hits, runs, doubles,
homers and RBI.

All-Stars

– Ted Lilly (9-6, 3.18) is the lone Cubs All-Star while Albert
Pujols (.338, 32 HR, 85 RBI) Yadier Molina (.280, 5 HR, 30 RBI) and
Ryan Franklin (0.82 ERA, 20 saves)will represent the hometown Cardinals.

On the mend

– The Cubs will be without catcher Geovany Soto for about a month. He
was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left oblique strain
on Saturday. Hampered by a shoulder issue in the early going, the 2008
National League Rookie of the Year got off to a slow start, but
regained some pop with six homers in 74 June at-bats. Koyie Hill will
fill in for now.

Fantasy angle

– Aramis Ramirez is 10-for-25 (.400) with a homer, four doubles and four RBI against Wainwright in his career.

Albert Pujols hit his 597th career home run

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Angels DH Albert Pujols smacked his 597th career home run, a two-run shot in the top of the first inning during Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Rays. The blast was off of Erasmo Ramirez and marked No. 6 on the season for the future Hall of Famer.

Pujols finished 1-for-3 with the homer and a walk. After Wednesday’s game, he’s hitting a lackluster .244/.296/.378 with 34 RBI and 14 runs scored in 186 trips to the plate.

Pujols currently ranks ninth on baseball’s all-time leaderboard and is three shy of joining the 600-homer club. He’s currently 13 home runs away from tying Sammy Sosa for eighth all-time.

Chris Sale’s streak of starts with at least 10 strikeouts ends

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale entered Wednesday’s outing against the Rangers with at least 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive starts, tying a record he already shared with Pedro Martinez. He failed do break the record, racking up only six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Fortunately, the Red Sox scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to put him in line for the win. Sale gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk.

After Wednesday’s outing, Sale is sitting on a 2.34 ERA with a 101/14 K/BB ratio in 73 innings. So far, so good for the Red Sox, who acquired Sale from the White Sox in December.

Sale previously racked up 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive games between May 23 and June 30 in 2015 with the White Sox. Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat for the Red Sox between August 19 and September 27 in 1999.