The San Francisco Giants take a healthier lineup and a surging offense to St. Louis on Friday to open a three-game series against the Cardinals.
The Giants have outscored opponents 41-18 during their five-game winning streak. They started that run with 13-7 and 4-3 victories over the Cardinals last week in San Francisco, which earned them a split of that four-game series.
"We know what kind of team we are when we have everybody in there," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "We can withstand a player or two maybe being out for a while and keep up the wins. But we had half our team gone. That's tough to overcome sometimes. When you get your everyday guys back in there, it puts everybody else at ease and everyone can kind of fall into their roles."
The return of LaMonte Wade Jr. Belt, and Evan Longoria at the top of the lineup has given manager Gabe Kapler a full offensive arsenal, which resulted in increased run production.
"It doesn't surprise me, and I don't think it surprises anybody in that room or anybody in the organization, that when we're together and near healthy -- with some new contributions from a guy like Luis Gonzalez, for example -- we're a pretty deep offensive club," Kapler said.
Logan Webb (4-1, 3.82 ERA) is in line to start for the Giants, seeking his fourth consecutive win. He earned the victory when San Francisco defeated the Cardinals 13-7 in his last outing despite allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings.
"There's just a feel to the game that he has when he's on, when his stuff has really good finish and when he's locating really well," Kapler said after that game. "You can see just a little bit of the body language come out today where he's frustrated. I think it was a frustrating performance for him. Good portions of the outing, but for the most part, I think there's better in there."
Webb is 1-1 with a 9.26 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have lost four off five games coming into series at Busch Stadium. Their offense sputtered again Thursday, mustering just six hits in a 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
"There's guys taking good at-bats and there are guys that aren't right now," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said after the game. "In order for this to click and go in the direction we need it to go, more guys have to contribute. That's just the bottom line. But there are certain guys taking really good at-bats right now. Our hope is it starts to click."
Marmol shuffled his starting rotation Thursday, moving Steven Matz up one day to face Baltimore. In his previous start, the Giants torched Matz for eight runs on five hits (including three homers) and three walks.
So the Cardinals had good reason to duck a rematch. This rotation switch pushed converted reliever Jordan Hicks (1-2, 3.78 ERA) back one day to start Friday night's game.
"Hicks is fine," Marmol said. "We felt like giving Matz (Thursday's) start made sense. It buys Hicks an extra day of rest, so that's what we're going with."
Hicks has a 7.11 ERA in three career appearances against the Giants. His one start against them came on Friday when he allowed two runs on three hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. The Cardinals ultimately won that game 3-2.
--Field Level Media