Adam Wainwright's season has been going as expected. That's not been the case for James Shields.
The two hurlers will go toe-to-toe Monday afternoon on Memorial Day in the opener of a two-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals from Kauffman Stadium.
Wainwright pitched well in his last outing, a 10-2 drubbing at San Diego last Tuesday, and held the Padres to a run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings. Wainwright, who lost his previous start on May 16 to the New York Mets and allowed three earned runs in six innings, is now 6-3 in 10 overall starts with a 2.38 earned run average.
St. Louis has won seven of Wainwright's last nine starts and the right-hander has pitched well outside of the Gateway City with a 4-1 mark in six chances. He has made eight career appearances (5 starts) against the Royals, going 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 39 2/3 innings.
Shields is in his first season with Kansas City and is currently riding a four-start winless drought (0-3). He has given up two runs in each of his past three trips to the mound, including a 3-1 loss at Houston last Wednesday. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter in seven innings, but fell to 2-5 in 10 starts to go along with a solid 2.47 ERA.
The Royals have scored a total of five runs in Shields' last four starts and he has never faced St. Louis. In starts at Kauffman Stadium this season, Shields is just 1-2 with a 1.97 ERA.
St. Louis has been arguably the hottest team in baseball and is tied with Texas for the most wins with 32. The Cardinals have one less loss than the Rangers at 32-17 and won their weekend series over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In Sunday's 5-3 win at Dodger Stadium, the Cardinals plated runs in both the top of the seventh and ninth innings to win for the ninth time in 13 tries. Pete Kozma drove in three of the five runs and finished with four hits and two runs scored for St. Louis, which is 1 1/2 games ahead of both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati for the NL Central lead.
Cardinals reliever Seth Maness earned the win after tossing one scoreless inning, while Edward Mujica hurled a perfect ninth to pick up his 14th save of the season. Starter Shelby Miller gave up three runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. It was Miller's shortest outing since going 5 1/3 frames on April 6.
"I don't think my fastball was as good as it had been earlier on (in the season)," Miller told the club's website. "But I'll get it back to normal in the bullpen (session). I feel just a little off, but not much. Hopefully I can get that taken care of."
Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran did not play Sunday because of left shoulder soreness and he is considered day-to-day. The former Royal is batting .294 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI this season. Rookie starting pitcher John Gast landed on the disabled list Sunday due to left shoulder tightness.
The Cardinals are 4-2 on an eight-game road trip.
Kansas City is mired in a five-game losing streak and has dropped 16 of its last 20 games. It was just swept in a four-game set by the LA Angels of Anaheim and failed to salvage the series finale with Sunday's 5-2 loss.
Wade Davis suffered the loss for allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings and Alcides Escobar highlighted the offense with three hits. Billy Butler was ejected to arguing balls and strikes for the Royals, who had an early 2-0 lead. It was the second ejection for Butler in his career.
"I'm going to try and control my emotions a little bit better the next time," Butler said. "You always want to work on that. I'll definitely try to. I'm not saying it's never going to happen again."
Kansas City lost four of six meetings with St. Louis in last season's I-70 Series and is just 4-8 in the past 12 matchups between the club's. The Royals will visit Busch Stadium for two games later this week.