The St. Louis Cardinals hope they have saved some runs for the opener of a two-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night that starts their nine-game homestand.
The Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 18-4 on Sunday to complete a three-game series sweep and finish a 4-3 trip. It was the Cardinals’ first series sweep of the season.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have struggled to score. They failed to complete their first series sweep of the season Sunday when they lost 3-2 to the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a three-game set. The winning run came on a homer by Toronto native Joey Votto.
The Blue Jays, who completed a 4-2 homestand against the Seattle Mariners and Reds, will open a six-game trip on Monday. In three games against the depleted Reds, the Blue Jays scored a total of seven runs. They were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Sunday.
“The positive side is that we’re winning games without our offense swinging the bats the way everybody expects,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We took two out of three from Seattle and two out of three from Cincinnati. Pitching and defense have been great, so we’re hoping that our bats get hot.”
Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas (3-2, 1.68 ERA) will oppose Toronto right-hander Jose Berrios (3-2, 4.83) on Monday.
Berrios is 2-0 (2.92) in two career starts against St. Louis, both as a member of the Minnesota Twins.
Mikolas will face Toronto for the first time.
Albert Pujols hit two home runs for the Cardinals on Sunday to give him 683 for his career. He passed Willie Mays for ninth all-time in games played (2,993) and also passed him for third all-time in total bases (6,067). Pujols moved into a tie for 12th with Tris Speaker for runs scored (1,882).
“(Willie Mays and Tris Speaker) are guys who have left a great legacy for this game,” Pujols said. “As you grow up in this game, your dad or friends talk about Willie Mays. To be mentioned in the same sentence is pretty special.”
Before the game on Sunday, the Cardinals recalled right-hander Angel Rondon from the taxi squad and optioned left-hander Matthew Liberatore to Triple-A Memphis.
When former Blue Jays left-hander Steven Matz (left-shoulder stiffness) could not continue after making four pitches in the first inning, Rondon came in to pitch five shuout innings to earn his first major league win.
“I wasn’t ready at that moment, but as soon as they told me I was going into the game, I changed my mindset,” Rondon said through translator/bullpen coach Kleininger Teran. “Everything went fast, but I was ready for anything.”
Yadier Molina, who was given the day off from catching, pitched the ninth inning and allowed four runs and four hits (two homers).
“I’m so mad that I didn’t (hold the shutout),” Molina said.
Blue Jays second baseman Santiago Espinal was 1-for-4 with a double Sunday to extend his career-best hitting streak to 15 games. He is 19-for-52 (.365) during this streak, with six doubles and four RBIs.
Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was 0-for-3 with a walk on Sunday. He was moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in the batting order. After extending his hitting streak to 15 games with an eighth-inning single on Wednesday, he is 0-for-11 since.
–Field Level Media