The Cardinals are without one of their most important bats tonight as they continue to duke it out in the ultra-competitive National League Central.
B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest reports that Lance Berkman will sit out tonight’s series opener against the Astros after he suffered a slight strain of his right rotator cuff on his final swing during Sunday’s game against the Pirates.
“Just when I took that last swing,” Berkman said. “Clearly there was something funny because the ball went one way and the shortstop ran up the middle. It was just strange.
“It hurt me when I got to first. Right when I did it, I didn’t feel anything that I can remember. It happened so fast, but I got down to first base and I was like, ‘My goodness’. It just didn’t feel good.”
While Berkman’s absence tonight ends a streak of 40 consecutive games played dating back to June 7, the good news is that he doesn’t anticipate missing more than “a day or two.”
Berkman, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract over the winter, is batting .288/.400/.599 with a .999 OPS in 365 plate appearances this season. He leads the National League with 27 home runs and ranks fourth with 69 RBI.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.