The St. Louis Cardinals look to continue their offensive surge when they visit the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series.
One night after clubbing his eighth homer of the season, St. Louis shortstop Paul DeJong continued his offensive renaissance on Tuesday with a hit and two runs in an 8-5 win.
DeJong's offense helped right-hander Adam Wainwright record a rare win in Cincinnati while complementing a two-homer effort from slugger Paul Goldschmidt.
DeJong is four years removed from the best year of his career, when he belted 30 homers and drove in 78 for the Cardinals in an All-Star season.
"I can watch highlights from 2019 and realize, 'Hey, I still get to throw the ball to Paul Goldschmidt every day,' or 'I have Nolan Arenado right next to me. Or Adam Wainwright and all these other great players,'" DeJong said.
"We have some really great players here, and I just opened my eyes to the great opportunities that I have to be here and wear this uniform. That really propelled me to have fun and be in the moment, as opposed to in years past wanting to hit certain benchmarks subconsciously. Those thoughts have melted, and I can just have fun with these guys."
The Reds have dropped seven of nine to fall into last place in the National League Central. They did get some good news Tuesday when center fielder TJ Friedl returned from the injured list, having recovered from an oblique strain that kept him out for 11 days.
"It's one of the hardest things being on the IL, watching the guys play. I'm just happy to be back and just get back in there," said Friedl, who tested the oblique early with an outstretched running grab of a second-inning Tommy Edman drive to the warning track in center.
Reds manager David Bell decided to drop Jonathan India into the No. 3 hole in the batting order for the first time this season while batting Friedl leadoff.
India, who batted leadoff in 46 of Cincinnati's first 47 games, grounded into a game-ending forceout on Tuesday with the bases loaded and the tying runs on base.
"It makes the most sense. We have two left-handed hitters in our lineup," Bell said of leadoff hitter Friedl and cleanup batter Jake Fraley. "To separate those guys makes a lot of sense just to not make it too easy on the other team to bring a left-hander in for both of those guys. Also, it just lengthens our lineup (because) trying to get production from the bottom half of our lineup is really important."
Cardinals left-hander Steven Matz (0-5, 5.05 ERA) could be facing the perfect team on Wednesday to help earn his first win of 2023. Since joining the Cardinals in 2022, Matz is 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in three games (two starts) against the Reds. In his career, he is 4-0 with a 2.92 ERA vs. Cincinnati over five appearances (four starts).
Matz took the loss last Friday at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite giving up just one run, which was unearned, and six hits over 4 2/3 innings.
The Reds will counter with right-hander Ben Lively (1-2, 2.45 ERA), who will be making his second straight start after two relief outings. Lively allowed just two runs and two hits over 5 2/3 innings on Friday in a 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
Lively will be facing the Cardinals for the first time in his career, but Goldschmidt is 4-for-8 with a home run lifetime against him.
--Field Level Media