Rangers again go with 'opener' vs. Cardinals
The Texas Rangers were able to stay red-hot Friday night even with an "opener" serving as the starting pitcher.
On Saturday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals are going to look to the least-proven member of their rotation to stop a skid that threatens to erase the margin of error they built in April.
Right-hander Ariel Jurado will become the Rangers' second straight opener when Texas looks to clinch a series win in the middle game of a three-game set against the Cardinals. Jurado (1-1, 1.50 ERA) is scheduled to oppose St. Louis right-hander Dakota Hudson (2-3, 4.61 ERA).
The Rangers cruised to a 7-3 victory Friday night. Rougned Odor and Shin-Soo Choo homered during a seven-run second inning, and Adrian Sampson earned his first big league win with 5 1/3 innings of relief, allowing one earned run.
It was the third straight decisive win for the Rangers, who have outscored the Cardinals and Kansas City Royals 29-5 dating back to Wednesday.
"You have to ride those good times out as long as you can but stop the bad ones," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "And I think that's what the great teams do. You score runs, you stop them from scoring. It's really important over the course of a season and also in game, it's huge."
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have been outscored 21-5 in losing their past three games to the Rangers and Atlanta Braves. St. Louis is 4-12 in May and has fallen to just one game over .500, the closest it has been to the break-even mark since April 19 (10-9).
The Cardinals had plenty of opportunities Friday, when they collected nine hits but stranded a runner at third twice before Kolten Wong made the first out of the seventh inning trying to go from first to third on Harrison Bader's single.
"I wouldn't say (the Cardinals are) pressing, I would say (they're) just not getting the timely hit," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Friday night. "Took some good swings, some balls to the track, some balls at people, but ultimately not good enough."
Jurado will follow in the footsteps of former closer Jose Leclerc, who tossed a perfect inning in his first career start Friday. The start Saturday will be the first of the season for Jurado, who made eight starts as a rookie last season.
Jurado last pitched Tuesday, when he gave up two runs over a season-high 2 1/3 innings in the Rangers' 11-5 loss to the Royals.
Hudson, the lone rookie in the Cardinals' rotation, didn't get a decision in his most recent appearance on Sunday, when he allowed three runs over six innings as St. Louis lost 10-6 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is 0-2 in three starts this month despite a 3.18 ERA.
Jurado has never faced the Cardinals, and Hudson has yet to oppose the Rangers.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 18, 2019