On Tuesday, the Cleveland Indians (43-34) will travel to Busch Stadium to take on the St. Louis Cardinals (41-36) in the second game of a three game interleague series. The Cardinals will look to win their fourth game in a row while the Indians will look to bounce back after having their seven game winning streak snapped in game one of the series. On paper, this game should boast a fantastic pitching matchup, as both teams will send their aces to the mound. The Indians will send Corey Kluber (11-3, 2.10 ERA) to take the hill against Carlos Martinez (3-4, 3.24 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 pm ET.
The moneyline for the game is set at the Cleveland Indians -168 and the St. Louis Cardinals +158. The over/under on runs scored is set at 7.5.
Indians Looking For Win Behind Ace
Corey Kluber is not just pitching like an ace, but he has pitched like a potential Cy Young Award winner for much of the first half of the season. On the season, Kluber is 11-3 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and opponents are batting a paltry .194 against him. In 111.2 innings pitched, he has 113 strikeouts versus only twelve walks. In his last outing, Kluber went 7 innings, striking out 7 and not allowing a run in a 12-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. Kluber will look to keep the strong first half going against the Cardinals on Tuesday.
From an offensive perspective, you don’t have to look any further than their two biggest stars to see the catalysts for the Indian’s offense. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez have been very impressive in the first half. Lindor is batting .296/.372/.556 with a .928 OPS. He has 19 home runs, 44 runs batted in, 63 runs scored and has even swiped 10 bags. Ramirez has been even more impressive hitting .296/.402/.616 with a 1.018 OPS. He has 23 home runs, 52 runs batted in, 12 stolen bases and 55 runs scored. Even more impressive is that he has walked 50 times versus only 40 strikeouts.
Even though they play in arguably the weakest division in baseball, the Indians have been proving lately that they are still a team that has World Series aspirations, even if they play in the same league as the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros. If they work through some bullpen issues that they have had early in the season, they might just get there.
Cardinals Looking To Hang Around In NL Central Race
The Cardinals have not exactly played inspiring baseball in the month of June. In fact, coming into Tuesday night’s game, they are under .500 in the month (11-12). Despite the swoon, they still only sit 4 games out of first place in the division, staying within striking distance as the midway of the season approaches.
One issue that they have had has been consistency with the rotation. Carlos Martinez, who has the stuff to be an ace, has really been inconsistent this year. He currently is 3-4 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and opponents are hitting .225 against him. One of his biggest issues thus far has been walks. In 66.2 innings pitched, he has 42 walks vs. 65 strikeouts. Coupled with having given up 55 hits in those 66 innings, he is lucky that the ERA isn’t higher. Martinez will really look to bounce back from his last start, a 11-3 loss to the Brewers where he pitched only 4 innings, giving up 5 earned runs and striking out 3.
Offensively, after a shaky start to the season, Marcell Ozuna has really gotten it going in June. He is hitting .341/.389/.634 with a 1.023 OPS. In the month, he has 7 home runs, 19 runs batted in and has scored 11 runs. As the big offseason pickup for the Cardinals, their offense has desperately needed him to play up to All-Star caliber that he had last year.
Indians Take 2nd Game Of Series Behind Dominant Pitching
Generally, when Kluber and Martinez pitch against each other I would salivate over the matchup. However, to this point, only one of them has pitched like a definitive ace and that has been Kluber. Understand that Martinez has the stuff to come out strong in any game, but I have to go with the season track record on this one. I like Kluber and the Indians -168.