Behind Jon Lester, Cardinals look for sweep of Royals

MLB Baseball

Jon Lester will try to rebound from his disastrous St. Louis pitching debut when the Cardinals host the Kansas City Royals in the finale of a three-game series Sunday.

Lester (3-6, 5.38 ERA) was the loser in a 6-1 setback to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday in his first start after arriving from the Washington Nationals in a trade. The veteran left-hander allowed five runs in the first before settling down to allow just one more run in his five-inning start.

“It just kind of maybe sped up on me a little bit,” Lester said. “Maybe a little bit jitters, trying to do too much early on, nibbling a little bit, putting myself in some bad counts. From there on, I can live with the outcome after that, but any time you put your team down five in the first is obviously never very good for us.”

Lester is 9-3 with a 1.84 ERA against the Royals in his career, dating to his run with the Boston Red Sox. Salvador Perez (3-for-6, double, two RBIs) and Carlos Santana (6-for-22, double, three RBIs) have hit well against him in their careers.

The Cardinals will vie for a series sweep after posting a 4-2 win on Friday and 5-2 victory the following day.

They are looking to reverse the damage from getting swept by the Atlanta Braves in their previous series.

“A couple games got away from us with Atlanta,” shortstop Paul DeJong told Bally Sports Midwest. “I thought we did a great job these last couple of games bouncing back even (though the Royals) scored, continuing to lay the pressure on them throughout the whole game. I think that’s really important for us moving forward, down to the last hour we’ll be fighting.”

The Royals will start left-hander Kris Bubic (3-5, 4.57), who will make his first start against the Cardinals. Bubic has recorded four straight quality starts while allowing seven runs in that span.

In his three outings before that stretch, Bubic allowed 13 runs on 15 hits while completing just nine innings.

“At the end of the day, everything plays off your fastball,” Bubic said. “Your off-speed pitches are going to go as your fastball goes. I’ve gone through my bumps and learned that at the end of the day, that’s going to remain true, no matter how good your off-speed pitches are.”

Royals manager Mike Matheny was pleased to see Bubic get more aggressive midway through his last start.

“It’s a conversation we’ve had before,” Matheny said. “The importance of using his fastball to make the other pitches better. Every one of these guys, they’re going to need to have that faith and trusting their fastball.”

The Royals could get outfielder Andrew Benintendi back in the lineup. He suffered a shoulder injury Tuesday and was limited to pinch-hitting duty in the last two games.

“You can tell that his swing is there,” Matheny said. “We’re trying to make sure he gets his arm, make sure that is where it needs to be to go out and compete at the major-league level. He’s getting close. … Just giving it one more day to hopefully get that arm confidence for throwing.”

–Field Level Media

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