A pair of Opening Day starters still in search of their best stuff go head-to-head Thursday afternoon when the San Francisco Giants look to complete a four-game home sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals
Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas (0-1, 7.46 ERA) and Giants ace Logan Webb (1-4, 4.40) have the starting assignments
St. Louis will try to win the series finale as it did Sunday after dropping the first two to the host Seattle Mariners.
Even at 1-5 so far on a 10-game Western swing, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol insisted after his team's 7-3 loss on Wednesday that he expects a supreme effort in the quick turnaround
"This group cares a ton," he said. "If there's anything, they're going to try too hard. It's never going to be a lack of effort or preparation, I'll tell you that."
Mikolas, a 12-game winner with a 3.29 ERA last season, has shown improvement in his last two starts after opening the season by allowing a total of 16 runs in 14 1/3 innings.
He appeared to regain some of last year's form when he held the Pittsburgh Pirates to two runs in five innings during a 5-4 win on April 16. Mikolas then limited the Mariners to three runs before leaving a tie game in the sixth inning on Saturday. He didn't get a decision in either outing.
The 34-year-old veteran has faced the Giants seven times in his career, three times as a starter, going 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in those games
The Cardinals dropped a third straight game Wednesday despite a two-homer effort from Paul Goldschmidt, who needed a third in the top of the ninth to draw the visitors even. However, batting with the bases loaded against Giants closer Camilo Doval, he grounded into a game-ending double play, the only time San Francisco retired him all night
While the Cardinals were mostly a one-man wrecking crew in the third game of the set, the Giants hit the visitors from every angle. Seven of their nine starters got hits, including Thairo Estrada with three and Austin Slater, Michael Conforto, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Blake Sabol with two apiece
Wade and Wilmer Flores homered for the Giants. San Francisco, which has seen Conforto, Joc Pederson, Slater and Mitch Haniger return recently from injuries, is riding a five-game winning streak. The Giants hadn't won consecutive games all season before the current stretch
"We knew that wasn't who we are," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said of the team's 6-13 start. "Our true talent has emerged here in the last five games. We're much deeper right now. We have guys up and down the lineup who can do damage.
Like his rival, Webb appears to be trending in a positive direction. He lost his first four starts, allowing four runs in each, before going seven strong innings against the New York Mets on Saturday in a 7-4 win. He gave up two runs and struck out eight.
The 26-year-old has made four previous starts against the Cardinals, going 2-1 with a 6.62 ERA. He dueled Steven Matz and Jordan Hicks in consecutive starts last May, with the Giants prevailing each time, 13-7 and 8-2
Webb has never allowed a homer -- or any extra-base hits for that matter -- to either Goldschmidt (3-for-10) or Nolan Arenado (3-for-13).
--Field Level Media