After playing 18 games in 18 days, the St. Louis Cardinals are looking forward to resetting during a rare two-day break this week.
But first they must play their 19th consecutive game to finish a two-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
The Royals blanked the Cardinals 7-0 on Monday afternoon for their second straight victory. St. Louis recorded just two hits.
"Guys are at 18 in a row, and you can see it, you can feel it," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. "No excuse. But they're playing through it. (Monday) it showed. It was hard to get anything going offensively."
The Cardinals will try to bounce back after losing for the third time in four games.
"You're professionals. You wake up, you get your body ready and you go," said Marmol, whose team is off on Wednesday and Thursday before a three-game series starting Friday at Pittsburgh. "We're all going to have to do that. ... A big part of our group being able to do what they've done over the last stretch is they've gone every day. Nineteen in a row is real. We've got one more (Tuesday), and we have to rally and figure out a way to win."
The Cardinals will start Miles Mikolas (3-1, 4.23 ERA), who delivered quality starts in each of his last three outings. He threw seven scoreless innings in his last start, a 2-1 victory at Cincinnati on Thursday.
He limited the Reds to five hits while striking out five and walking none.
"That is what it's supposed to look like, right there," Marmol said. "Take the ball. Go out there with, 'I want to finish this game.' He shoved. You come here. You get on the mound. And you throw up zeroes. We needed it, and that's what he did."
Mikolas has reestablished the pitch command he lacked earlier this season, when he posted a 10.05 ERA in his first three starts.
"At my best, I'm a pitcher," Mikolas said. "Change speeds. In, out, up, down. Any pitch, any count. I play with the fastball. I had some fastballs around 89 (mph) and some up to 95. So, I'm sinking it. I'm cutting it. I'm pitching. I'm out there pitching."
Mikolas threw a complete-game shutout in 2018 in his only previous start against the Royals.
The Royals pounded Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright and the relievers who followed for 16 hits Monday.
"I felt good about the at-bats," Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. "Obviously, Wainwright knows what he's doing. He's really locating. Every time we went and looked at the location, they're right on the corner, the curveball, cutter, slider, whatever."
Kansas City will start Zack Greinke (1-5, 4.55), who held the Detroit Tigers to one run on four hits on Wednesday in his last start. He struck out five and walked one in five innings.
His only run allowed came on Riley Greene's solo homer.
"I tried to throw it more inside and it ended up being middle up," Greinke said of his pitch that Greene went deep on. "It definitely wasn't right where I wanted to throw it. ... He hit it pretty good."
Greinke is 13-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 22 career appearances (20 starts) against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals may be missing outfielder Lars Nootbaar, who left Monday's game in the third inning with lower back spasms. He is listed as day-to-day.
--Field Level Media