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elaine95 Jan 12

Few starters in baseball have needed as little cushion this year as St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas. Monday night’s 11-6 victory in Atlanta upped his record to 16-0 when receiving two or more runs of support.Mikolas gets the call Sunday when St. Louis tries to bolster its National League wild-card playoff hopes with a series sweep of the San Francisco Giants in Busch Stadium.St. Louis leads Colorado by 1 1/2 games for the final wild-card spot. The Cardinals also edged within two games of Milwaukee for the first wild-card and are 4 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central lead.Article continues below ...Mikolas (16-4 Ernie Banks Jersey , 3.01 ERA) has been perhaps the best value signing of the offseason. Skepticism abounded when the Cardinals (86-69) inked him to a two-year, $15.5 million deal after three successful seasons in Japan. After all, Mikolas looked like bottom of the staff material while posting a 6.44 ERA in10 starts in 2014 with Texas.But Mikolas has surprised the skeptics, averaging just over six innings a start and making every turn in the rotation. He has fewer walks (29) than starts (30) and could lead the NL in wins if he winds up on the upside of his last two starts.“I’ve been fortunate than when I pitch, we have great offense and we’ve put up runs and we play great defense and everything has come together,” Mikolas said to mlb.com after his victory in Atlanta. “It’s been a great season for me.”Mikolas will make his fifth career appearance against San Francisco, although it will be his first as a starter. He has no record and a 1.69 ERA in 5 1/3 innings.St. Louis pulled out a dramatic 5-4, 10-inning victory Saturday over San Francisco to move one step closer to its first playoff spot since 2015. Yadier Molina’s two-run homer in the seventh inning erased a 4-2 deficit and Tyler O’Neill’s tape-measure blast with two outs in the 10th supplied the Cardinals their 11th walk-off win of the year.San Francisco (72-83) has nothing left on its plate beside contractual obligation and statistical incentives. The Giants have battled the Cardinals hard in the series’ first two games, but their bullpen has let them down, as has often been the case this year.Rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez (7-11, 4.24 ERA) takes the ball for San Francisco http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-ryne-sandberg-jersey , looking to build on two straight quality starts. Suarez picked up a 4-2 win on Monday night in San Diego, working 7 2/3 innings and allowing two runs and four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. This will be his first career outing against the Cardinals.St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong, who left Friday night’s game after seven innings after he suffered cramps in both hamstrings, could be available for Sunday’s game. In 2011, it was the Rally Squirrel dashing across home plate during Game 4 of the National League Division Series to disrupt Philadelphia pitcher Roy Oswalt and help the St. Louis Cardinals take a win-or-die game. Six years later, the Rally Kitty appeared in center field just before a grand slam by Yadier Molina won an August game against Kansas City and fueled an eight-game winning streak that lifted St. Louis into a first-place tie in the NL Central before the Chicago Cubs finally pulled away.On Sunday, Rally Squirrel II made a road trip, waltzing across the Comerica Park infield in Detroit moments before the Cardinals broke up a scoreless tie with five seventh-inning runs to notch a critical win over the Tigers and maintain their edge for the NL’s second wild card.Article continues below ...“We’ll look for that rally squirrel and try to bring it home,” Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong joked.Given recent trends, St. Louis might need a whole zoo to try to figure out Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams, its opponent Monday night for the beginning of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.Williams (12-9 Billy Williams Jersey , 3.15 ERA) continued an amazing run on Labor Day, firing 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-1 win over Cincinnati at PNC Park. In his last nine starts, Williams has allowed only four runs in 54 2/3 innings, pitching scoreless ball six times and post an absurd 0.66 ERA.One of those six times occurred two weeks ago, when he bagged a 2-0 win over the Cardinals (79-64) at Busch. Williams ceded only three hits and three walks in six innings, striking out eight.“I’m confident in my ability to pitch at the big league level and have success at the big league level,” he said to mlb.com after his win over Cincinnati. “It’s just a matter of executing pitches.”Williams’ shutdown outing against St. Louis reversed a career-long trend of struggles against a division rival. In 11 outings, he’s 3-4 with a 5.98 ERA, permitting 59 hits in 43 2/3 innings and 29 earned runs.The Cardinals would have avoided Williams had Pittsburgh (71-71) not been washed out of its series finale Sunday against Miami. The remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon moved that game back to Oct. 1, the day after the regular season was scheduled to end.St. Louis will start veteran Adam Wainwright (1-3, 4.00) http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-jon-lester-jersey , who has been out since May 13, when he suffered right elbow inflammation during the third inning of a 5-3 loss in San Diego. Wainwright has fired 17 scoreless innings across six rehab outings. In his career, Wainwright is 13-7 in 36 games with a 4.28 ERA when facing the Pirates.“I feel like I’m getting called up for September,” he said to mlb.com last week. “Earlier this season, I couldn’t lift my bag, pick up my shirt, after starts. I threw a bullpen after my last start, and I didn’t know what would happen. And I felt normal.”The Cardinals own a 9-7 edge in the season series with the Pirates, winning five of the seven games at home.

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