(BaseballStL) - In Joe Kelly’s first start of the season, he threw 107 pitches over 5.1 innings to a 6-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. It wasn’t a brilliantly pitched game, but he pitched well enough to earn the victory and received great run support from his own offense.
Friday night, Kelly will face the Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija who hasn’t been lucky enough to receive the same run support as Kelly or win either of his two starts. 29-year-old Samardzija took a no decision in his first start against the Pirates as the Cubs lost 1-0 in 10 innings. He then pitched 7.0 and allowed only 2 earned runs in his second start on Saturday against the Phillies, but the Cubs weren’t able to score any runs.
Look for the possibility for manager Mike Matheny to start Jon Jay in center field Friday night as Jay holds a .444 average in 18 at-bats against Samardzija. Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina has also had success against Samardzija posting a .529 average in 17 at-bats with 9 hits and 2 RBIs.
Kelly will look to improve on his first outing, where he allowed 6 hits in 5.1 innings. The Cardinals will need Kelly to go deeper into the game. Overall, the Cubs have 74 at-bats against Kelly who has been able to hold their hitters to a .216 average with 21 strike outs.
On Saturday, the Cardinals will break out their alternate jerseys for the first time this season as Adam Wainwright makes his first start at home. Wainwright will duel Cubs Carlos Villanueva, who started his first game this past weekend after starting the season as a reliever.
Villanueva pitched in both of the Cubs losses to the Pirates in extra innings when manager Rick Renteria called upon him to start Sunday’s game against the Phillies. He went 5.0 innings giving up only 1 earned run.
The Cubs offense helped out the cause by scoring 8 in the win over the Phillies, but Wainwright will try to make it hard for the baby bears to cross the plate. The 6’7” ace has only given up 2 earned runs over his first 2 starts. Darwin Barney has had some success against Wainwright in 26 at-bats with one home run and 8 hits.
Sunday pits former Cardinal Edwin Jackson against the young Michael Wacha. Jackson, who played on the 2011 World Series Championship team, hasn’t had much to be happy about in his first two starts posting a 6.30 ERA.
Match-up to Watch: Yadier Molina vs. Edwin Jackson
In 23 at-bats, Molina is hitting an unbelievable .522 against Jackson. Molina has smacked out 3 home runs and 8 RBIs against his former teammate as he looks to improve his numbers over the weekend. Molina is 4 for 8 with a home run and double in his last two games