July 21, 2024

After winning on Thursday, the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals will square off for the first time this season on Friday, beginning a four-game series in the nation’s capital.

The Nationals are coming off a series split with the visiting New York Mets, while the Cardinals won a three-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Washington has dropped seven of its last ten games, but the Nationals appear to be gaining momentum. They rebounded from a five-run deficit to defeat the Mets 7-5 on Wednesday, then Jake Irvin delivered a strong performance to win a 1-0 pitchers’ duel on Thursday.

“It was huge. “We lost the first two games, but the way we won the third and fourth was incredible,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez. “Now we have the Cardinals coming in, and we need to stay hungry.”

“I can tell you that the spirit in the dugout throughout the game on Thursday was incredible. Guys were revved up every time Jake walked into the dugout, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time.”

Irvin pitched eight innings of one-hit ball, while Derek Law recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his first save.

The Cardinals have won three of their last four games, including a 3-2, 10-inning victory on Thursday to clinch the series against the Pirates.

 

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It was a wonderful revenge win for St. Louis, which had lost to Pittsburgh in 10 innings the day before. Despite having a small bullpen owing to recent workloads, the Cardinals managed to get by with two relievers, Andrew Kittredge and John King, who combined to throw three innings and allow only one unearned run.

St. Louis thrives in tight contests, as evidenced by a 16-12 record in games decided by one run. The Cardinals have also won 12 of their previous 13 series-clinching games.

“Everyone’s grinding, another close one, it’s good we came out on top,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It is important. You feel pleased about going to the next city.

“In terms of mood, it simply carries you through everything. It’s hot out there, men are grinding, and we have a lot of guys who enjoy playing every day, so winning the final game of a series and moving to a new location makes you feel good.”

Washington’s Patrick Corbin (1-8, 5.49 ERA) will look to build on Irvin’s performance, despite being winless in his last nine outings. His only win of the season came on May 10, against the Boston Red Sox. He most recently gave four runs on eight hits in six innings of Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Corbin has a 2-2 record with a 3.64 ERA in eight career appearances versus the Cardinals, but he has not faced them since 2021.

The Cardinals will rely on veteran Sonny Gray (9-5, 2.98). Gray allowed six runs, three earned, in 4 1/3 innings of his most recent appearance, a 9-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Gray has a 2-1 record with a 4.15 ERA in seven career starts against the Nationals. He dominates pitching at Nationals Park, with a 2-0 record and a 1.64 ERA in two starts.

Gray, like Corbin, will pitch against his Friday opponent for the first time since 2021.

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