Sunday, June 19, 2016

Surging Rangers seek sweep vs. skidding Cards

Two pitchers on a good roll will be facing each other on Sunday afternoon when right-hander Mike Leake pitches for the Cardinals against Rangers left-hander Martin Perez. Texas is seeking its sixth consecutive victory and a sweep, while St. Louis is trying to break out of a four-game slide.
Perez is 5-0 with a 3.19 ERA in his last five starts and needs one more victory to tie his career-best six-game winning streak set Aug. 5-Sept. 3, 2013.
"I think when you throw quality pitches, that's what you get," Perez said. "I've just got to do the same thing and throw strikes."
Perez has made just one start against the Cardinals. That was on June 22, 2013, when he allowed two runs in seven innings in a 4-2 victory at Busch Stadium.
Leake and Perez faced each other last year in Arlington on Aug. 2. Leake had just been traded from the Reds to the Giants, but Perez emerged with the win in the Rangers' 2-1 victory. Leake allowed only a two-run home run to Josh Hamilton.
Leake enters this game having gone 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA in his last seven starts. In 47 1/3 innings over those seven starts, Leake has struck out 31 and walked five. He has walked 1.54 batters per nine innings, the fourth fewest in the National League. He is 6-8 with a 3.97 ERA in 23 career Interleague starts.
What to watch for
• Ian Desmond, with eight hits in 23 at-bats, is hitting .348 off Leake, the fifth highest by a right-handed opponent with a minimum of 20 at-bats against the Cards righty. Desmond had the decisive sac fly to cap the Rangers' comeback win in the ninth Saturday.
• Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams did not start Friday with left-hander Cole Hamels on the mound for the Rangers. Jedd Gyorko, a right-handed hitter, started instead for the first time at first base. But Adams is hitting .355 off left-handers (11-for-31) this season. That's the highest for a left-handed hitter in the NL among those with a minimum of 25 at-bats.
• Prince Fielder started at first base for the Rangers on Saturday with no designated hitter being used in the NL park. Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Mitch Moreland will start there on Sunday. Banister is also considering giving third baseman Adrian Beltre a day off in the finale. He has started three straight games since missing seven with a tight left hamstring.

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