The visiting St. Louis Cardinals will continue their COVID-19 comeback when they face the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
The Cardinals swept the White Sox 5-1 and 6-3 in a doubleheader Saturday in their first games since July 29.
“We’re competing out here,” said Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill, who hit the decisive two-run homer in Game 2. “We’re pros. Just because we were out for three weeks or so doesn’t mean we’re just going to cave in. We’re going to give it our all out there.”
The virus idled the Cardinals for 17 days and left 10 players on the infected list. They returned to confront a crowded schedule: eight games against the White Sox and Cubs during a five-day trip to the Windy City.
“We’re going to embrace it. We’re going to enjoy it,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We’re going to take our best shot every single day. We’ve got to enjoy and appreciate it because we realize how quickly it can be taken away.”
White Sox manager Rick Renteria figured the Cardinals would not be an easy mark when they returned to action at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“You have a bunch of guys over there, they’re professionals,” Renteria said. “I’m sure with the pedigree of guys they have over there, they are going to go out there and grind. They’re going to do everything they can. I can’t speak for them, but when you’re on the outside looking at their club, I’m sure they’re going to try to do the best they can under the circumstances.”
The White Sox will start Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.04 ERA) Sunday. He is coming off a 5-1 loss to the Tigers Aug. 10. He allowed three runs on six hits in six innings in that game, then called out the team for its poor effort.
“Any time you have a peer trying to motivate you, it’s a good thing, especially somebody who’s been around a little bit,” Renteria said. “As we’ve talked about before over the last three or four years, at some point we want the players to go ahead and take ownership.
“We’ve had guys doing it subtly, you guys haven’t heard about it. In this instance, you heard about it. And I hope it did have an effect.”
Keuchel is 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA in three career appearances against the Cardinals, including two starts.
The Cardinals will counter with Dakota Hudson (0-1, 8.31 ERA), who will make his first start since July 26. In that game he allowed four runs on seven hits, including two homers, in 4 1/3 innings during a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hudson has never faced the White Sox.
With outfielder Lane Thomas among the Cardinals shelved with COVID-19, the Cardinals are taking a long look at top outfield prospect Dylan Carlson. He started both games Saturday.
The White Sox have also had to make roster adjustments due to injuries. Utility player Leury Garcia will miss the rest of the season after suffering a severed left thumb ligament. Garcia hit .271 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 16 games.
A sore shoulder sent reliever Ian Hamilton to the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Aug. 12. He joined pitchers Reynaldo Lopez and Carlos Rodon, who are still trying to work their way back from shoulder soreness.
–Field Level Media