Thursday, June 30, 2016

Diaz looking to return as Leake, Cards tangle with Royals

When Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz took a foul ball off his right eye on Monday against the Royals, an extended stint on the disabled list seemed a possibility. Three days later, the nature of the injury isn't as serious as it initially looked and Diaz could return to the lineup against the Royals on Thursday night in the I-70 Series finale.
Diaz saw the team eye doctor on Wednesday and the swelling has decreased significantly.
"I think it's just a matter of letting them get a look at him and seeing if there are any spots that aren't necessarily acting as usual," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "As long as the swelling is down to where he can see like he needs to, that would kind of be the go-ahead to let him get back out there."
Diaz's return to the lineup might come at the right time. He was 12-for-25 with two home runs on the Cardinals' last road trip and the home-run ball has a chance to play a prominent role on Thursday. Royals starter Chris Young is prone to giving up homers as he is slated to face the power-hitting Cardinals.
Young has given up at least one homer in 11 starts and is giving up an average of 3.52 home runs per nine innings. St. Louis ranked sixth in the Majors with 103 homers entering Wednesday. Young was 1-1 in two starts against the Cardinals last season, which included a start in Kansas City when he went six shutout innings and gave up six hits. Young's outing in St. Louis last year didn't yield similar results, as he gave up four runs on five hits in three innings.
Leake has also had his fair share of problems with homers. His home runs per fly ball rate stands at 16.5 percent, 13th among Major League starters entering Wednesday. The right-hander has never faced the Royals, but he will make his second consecutive Interleague start after giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in his last outing against the Mariners. It was Leake's first loss in almost a month and his first appearance shorter than six innings since May 4.
Things to know about this game
• Young has given up six home runs against Cardinals hitters in his career. Brandon Moss has four of them.
• Young is 0-5 with a 9.70 ERA in five road starts this season.
• Leake had a streak of three straight starts without a walk snapped against the Mariners. He has a chance to start a new streak on Thursday with the Royals walking in 6 percent of plate appearances, last in the Major Leagues.

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