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.

Austin Romine gets the start at catcher in ALCS Game 4

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Austin Romine is starting at catcher and batting ninth for the Yankees in today’s ALCS Game 4 versus the Astros.
Gary Sanchez is still in the lineup, but he’s the DH. That means Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley and Matt Holliday are all on the bench.

Sanchez was lambasted for not holding on to the relay throw in Game 2, allowing Jose Altuve to score the winning run despite getting beat to the plate by the ball by several feet. That, combined with earlier passed balls, led some in the press to lobby for Romine to get the call behind the plate. Those calls tended to ignore the fact that Romine can’t hit a lick and that he is inferior to Sanchez when it comes to gunning down runners. Maybe a ball doesn’t skip by Romine that would have eluded Sanchez, but if I’m Jose Altuve or Alex Bregman or one of the speedier Astros, I’m running wild on Romine any time I get on base today.

The offensive knock is not quite as big a deal at the moment as it normally would be. Sanchez is in an 0-for-16 slump, but Romine isn’t replacing his bat he’s replacing either Ellsbury, Headley or Holliday. None of those guys are hitting at all, so I don’t suppose this is that big of a deal. Discuss amongst yourselves if you’d rather have a guy who is as cold as ice in the lineup who might hit versus a guy you can be pretty sure isn’t gonna hit regardless.

Either way, it’s a different look for the Yankees in Game 4.