Albert Pujols will continue his bid for his 700th homer when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Cincinnati Reds in a doubleheader on Saturday.
Pujols hit his 698th home run, a two-run blast, as the Cardinals won 6-5 Friday night in the second game of a five-game series.
“He continues to do it in meaningful situations, that’s what matters,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It would be one thing if he was just chasing it, but the thing is he’s taking an unbelievable approach and delivering when we need it most. He’s chasing 700, yes, but he’s chasing a championship more than that.”
The Reds (57-87) will start Mike Minor (4-11, 5.78 ERA) and Hunter Greene (4-12, 5.26) in the twin bill.
Pujols is 6-for-23 (.261) against Minor with two doubles, no homers and three RBIs. He has not faced Greene.
The Cardinals (85-60) will start Dakota Hudson (7-7, 4.43 ERA) and Jose Quintana (5-6, 3.34).
Hudson is back after the Cardinals demoted him to Triple-A Memphis so he could continue his quest for more consistent mechanics as a starter.
Marmol wants to see Hudson quicken his pace — and the minor league pitch clock forced him to do that.
“I think it will help,” Marmol said. “The less time you have in between, the easier I think it is for someone like Dak to repeat. And I think the pitch clock is going to help him.”
Hudson threw 8 2/3 scoreless innings in his first start for Memphis, and then he allowed three earned runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings in his second start on Sept. 11.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Reds this season. He is 6-2 with a 3.45 ERA in 11 career games against Cincinnati, including 10 starts.
Quintana is coming off a strong performance on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, his former team. He held them to one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings in a game the Cardinals eventually won 4-3.
He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all eight appearances for the Cardinals since arriving from the Pirates in a trade on Aug. 2.
In two starts against the Reds this season, Quintana allowed just two runs on 10 hits in 11 2/3 innings. He is 4-4 with a 3.45 ERA on 12 career appearances against Cincinnati, including 11 starts.
Minor is coming off a 6-3 loss to the Pirates on Monday. He allowed six runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks in five innings.
He is 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals this season and 2-5 with a 6.12 ERA in 11 career games against them, including nine starts.
Paul Goldschmidt (9-for-15, double, three homers, five RBIs), Tyler O’Neill (6-for-10, double, three homers, five RBIs) and Nolan Arenado (5-for-15, double, two homers, five RBIs) have hit Minor hard.
After recovering from shoulder fatigue, Greene wants to put a positive cap on his rookie season. The 23-year-old rookie right-hander struck out 15 batters during three rehabilitation appearances for Triple-A Louisville.
“Going in, my biggest priority is making sure that I’m healthy,” Greene said. “I definitely had a focus on working on all my pitches and making sure those are tight so when I get back here, I feel like I haven’t skipped a beat.”
Greene is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals this season.
–Field Level Media