Royals go for rare season-series win vs. neighbor Cardinals

Royals go for rare season-series win vs. neighbor Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals and host Kansas City Royals will finish the season series in their interleague Missouri rivalry on Saturday evening

The clubs have matched up every year since interleague play began in 1997, with the Cardinals enjoying a 74-49 record against the Royals. Their .602 winning percentage is baseball’s best among teams playing interleague natural rivals

Last winning a season series against St. Louis in 2016, Kansas City will do so with a win Saturday, with rookie Maikel Garcia leading the way. Kansas City is 2-1 vs. St. Louis this season

Garcia has thrived since being inserted into the leadoff spot July 1, hitting .304 (42-for-138) in 35 games

Royals manager Matt Quatraro lauded Garcia’s ability to adjust

“He figures out a way to get the barrel to the ball,” Quatraro said. “It’s not always pretty, like the RBI he got the other night to get us on the board. That was the epitome of it, being down two strikes, battling a guy with a 97 mph sinker. Getting the barrel on the ball, he has that ability.

With two hits Friday against Adam Wainwright, Garcia extended his hitting streak to 15 games, matching a club record for rookies

“The most impressive thing to me is that he doesn’t give up,” Quatraro said. “There have been nights that he’s gotten his hit in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning. For a young player to not check out or be too demoralized by what’s happened earlier in the game, I think that’s what stands out.

Left-handers Cole Ragans (3-3, 3.86 ERA) of Kansas City and Steven Matz (3-7, 3.91) of St. Louis will face off Saturday

In three starts since joining the Royals via trade from the Texas Rangers, Ragans has a 1.02 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 while allowing two runs — one earned — on four hits in 6 2/3 innings Aug. 7 an Monday at Boston

Only Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Gorman have faced Ragans, neither with a hit in their lone at-bats in Ragans’ only career appearance against the Cardinals, in relief on June 6

Over his last six outings, Matz is 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA. In his previous start last Saturday, he beat the Rockies 6-2, pitching six innings while allowing a run on five hits

Matz won both previous starts against the Royals, allowing one run in 12 combined innings, most recently hurling six shutout frames against Kansas City on May 2 last season

Andrew Knizner has a career-best seven-game hitting streak, batting .440 (11-for-25), including four multi-hit games with four homers and nine RBIs. In 15 games since June 20, he is hitting .346 with four homers and 14 RBIs

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol attributes the success to a mechanical swing adjustment that allows Knizner to create more lift

“A couple of months ago there was a really aggressive switch to try to get the ball off the ground,” Marmol said. “He swings hard, he hits the ball hard enough. It’s a matter of ‘don’t miss low.’ When he doesn’t miss low, he gets some pretty good production.

Marmol noted that Knizner hit the ball on the ground nearly half the time in 2021 and ’22 but just 38 percent of the time this year

“That’s a drastic difference,” Marmol said. “That’s a different player. It allows him to do a bit more damage.

–Field Level Medi

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.