Cardinals face last chance to solve Tigers
The St. Louis Cardinals have lost consecutive games to the rebuilding Detroit Tigers in walk-off fashion.
The Cardinals, who sit second in the National League wild-card standings, will attempt to salvage the series finale Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park. Right-hander John Gant will start for them against Michael Fulmer.
Gant has battled control problems in recent starts. He has issued 13 walks in his last three outings, including five in 4 1/3 innings at Washington on Tuesday. He gave up three runs that night, though none were earned.
"Felt good with the heater," Gant told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "My secondary stuff was iffy."
Gant (6-5, 3.19 ERA) has allowed two or fewer earned runs in his last six outings. He made one relief appearance against Detroit during his rookie season with Atlanta in 2016 and tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Fulmer will make his fourth start since returning from an oblique strain. He gave up one hit, a leadoff homer, in his last outing against the Chicago White Sox on Monday. Fulmer threw 96 pitches in that 5 2/3-inning stint.
"All the mechanical adjustments we've made over the past couple of weeks, I didn't trust them at first, and I was still flying open (with his front shoulder in his delivery)," Fulmer told the Detroit News. "I came back inside and looked at the video and sure enough, I was flying open. So I closed it right off and I started to get weak contact."
Fulmer wound up with a no-decision that night. Detroit has lost 11 of his last 12 starts dating to late May. The lone win was a 3-1 decision over Minnesota on June 14.
Fulmer (3-10, 4.57 ERA) was struck in the shin by a line drive at the end of his last start, but it turned out to be just a bruise. He's looking forward to his remaining starts.
"I am very excited where we're going," said Fulmer, who will face the Cardinals for the first time. "I just have to stick to it and trust the process."
If the Cardinals fail to make the postseason, they'll look at this series as one of the big reasons they came up short.
On Saturday, Victor Reyes scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to give Detroit a 4-3 victory. Marcell Ozuna tied the score with a two-run homer in the top of the inning, his third long ball in two games.
"They're in a pennant race," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You can tell how tense it is for them over there. We're getting a piece of it from the other side that we wouldn't get if we weren't playing teams that were in this pennant race.
"So our guys are pretty fired up in the dugout and they're getting after it pretty good. They've been doing it all summer long, but there's definitely a different emotion going on right now."
It has been a rough weekend all around for the Cardinals. Infielder Jedd Gyorko was expected to be activated off the disabled list Saturday but instead returned to St. Louis for treatment on his left groin injury.
Starting pitcher Michael Wacha was scheduled to make a rehab start Friday night but had a setback with his left oblique injury and it's uncertain if he'll return this season.
Copyright 2018 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.
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