After the series finale in Cleveland against the Guardians on Sunday afternoon, the worn-out but resurgent St. Louis Cardinals will finally head home again.
There will still be two games left in the Cardinals' current marathon stretch of 19 games in 19 days, but at least those will be at home against the Kansas City Royals before two days off beginning May 31. They've only had seven games in St. Louis since that slog began after their last day off on May 11.
Hunter Gaddis (1-1, 5.26 ERA), a 25-year-old rookie, will make his third start of the season, aiming to hold onto his place in Cleveland's rotation as the Guardians await the impending return of injured starters Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie.
Gaddis is coming off his best performance of the season, having earned the win in Cleveland's 3-0 win Monday against the Chicago White Sox by throwing six scoreless, two-hit innings.
"Every pitch, I have a tendency to kind of go into cruise mode," Gaddis told reporters after that game. "So I was paying attention to myself, how I was going out every pitch, and I was just reminding myself to stay focused."
St. Louis will send left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-6, 4.55) to oppose Gaddis.
Montgomery was 6-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 11 starts after arriving in St. Louis in 2022 in a trade with the New York Yankees. He remains one of the Cardinals' most reliable starters, although he hasn't pitched into the sixth inning over his last three starts.
Montgomery faced the Guardians twice as a member of the Yankees with mixed results. Against Cleveland, he has a 4.34 ERA over 18 2/3 career innings and struck out 25, but has surrendered nine earned runs in those outings.
And Montgomery comes in on an up-and-down stretch of recent form. He opened the season with wins in his first two starts, but is winless in his past eight appearances. He gave up four runs in just four innings in his last start, a 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
"It's tough to keep the ball in the park here," Montgomery said after that game. "I tried to keep them on the ground. Tonight was just kind of grindy."
St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said of Montgomery: "His pitch count was kind of up there tonight. Not the type of finish with his pitches. Didn't look as crisp as he has."
At the plate, the two teams couldn't be trending more differently.
The Cardinals, since falling to 11-24 on May 7, were averaging 6.43 runs per game, a .483 slugging percentage and an .829 OPS -- all tops in the National League over the period.
The Guardians continue to struggle to score, especially at home, where they are averaging just 2.9 runs per game this season.
Cleveland beat St. Louis 4-3 on Friday in the series opener before falling 2-1 when the Cardinals scored on a passed ball in the 10th inning on Saturday.
-Field Level Media