Game Preview: St. Louis Cardinals (14-6) at Atlanta Braves (9-10)



St. Louis Cardinals (14-6) at Atlanta Braves (9-10) at

Pitching matchup: Kyle Lohse (3-0, 2.42 ERA) vs. J0-Jo Reyes (0-1, 7.94 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m. EDT

Location: Turner Field, Atlanta

TV: Peachtree TV Radio: 640 WGST

Weather: Partly Cloudy, 77 degrees

Twitter: Tomahawk Take

One thing, more than anything else, has kept the Atlanta Braves (9-10) afloat this season — the starting pitching.

If it weren’t for the arms of Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Jair Jurrjens, it would be safe to say this Braves squad could be seating in the cellar of the National League East.

In the trio’s last go-around, they have gone 19 innings, allowing six runs on 17 hits while striking out 19. Atlanta was victorious in two of those three games, indicating two key points.

The first takeaway is that the Braves aren’t scoring runs and when they do, they come in spurts. This offense, for whatever reason, is incredibly inconsistent. One night, the bats will come alive and score 10 runs. The next day, they’ll struggle to get a runner in scoring position.

The other aspect is that only those three starters are getting the job done. In the last two starts for Atlanta’s fourth and fifth starters, the Braves have lost both games and both pitchers have lasted just 10 1/3 innings while allowing 15 runs on 13 hits –  a mark that must improve if Atlanta hopes to stay over the .500 mark.

The Braves will try to reverse that ladder trend tonight, as J0-Jo Reyes (0-1, 7.94 ERA) goes to the hill in game two of the three game set with the St. Louis Cardinals (14-6). The southpaw made his season debut on April 18 in Pittsburgh, where he went 5 2/3  innings and gave up five runs. Despite picking up the loss, Reyes pitched extremely well in the first five innings but gave up all four of the five in a forgettable sixth inning.

The 23-year old is 0-8 with a 7.82 ERA in his last 14 appearances which include 13 starts. However, this spring he has looked much more like the prime prospect that was so-coveted by Atlanta’s front office in recent years.

Reyes made just one start against St. Louis last season and was absolutely pummeled. In 5 2/3 innings, he allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits.

On the mound for the Cardinals will be Kyle Lohse (3-0, 2.42 ERA). The right-hander has surrendered just seven earned runs in 26 innings of work. He has also been incredibly strong with his location, walking only four batters this season.

Lohse doesn’t exactly have an overpowering fastball (it tops out in the low 90’s) but his cuverball is his true bread and butter. It is particularly devastating against right-handed batters.

It’s important to note that Lohse is coming off his last start where he tweaked his right knee in his last inning of work, so it is a possibility that he could be a late scratch.

Chipper Jones (5-for-9, 2 doubles, 1 home  run and 5 RBIs) and Yunel Escobar (3-for-6) have both hit Lohse well.