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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis CardinalsJun 12, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The resurgent St. Louis Cardinals are set to open a three-game series against the host Miami Marlins on Monday night.

On May 11, the Cardinals were 15-24. But after beating the Cubs 2-1 on Sunday, the Cardinals are 35-35, and they would be a wild-card team if the regular season ended today.

“Really nice job by our pitchers,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said after Sunday’s win.

The Cardinals, who have won four of their past five games, will start right-hander Sonny Gray on Monday.

Gray (8-4, 3.01 ERA) has never lost to Miami. In five career starts against Miami, he is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA.

The Cardinals signed Gray in November, giving him a three-year, $75-million contract.

So far, that deal looks like a good one for the Cardinals as Gray, 34, just keeps getting better. If his current numbers hold up, this will be his third straight year with an ERA below 3.10, and that’s over 68 starts.

His sweeper pitch — according to Statcast — was No. 1 in the majors last year with the Twins.

He also led the majors in lowest homer rate (0.4). This year, that number is up slightly (0.8).

Last Wednesday, Gray beat the Pirates, allowing just one run, four hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out nine.

“It was time to put up or shut up,” Gray said of his performance. “I had a mentality shift throughout the week.

“I wrote down in my book: ‘Pitch to win the game, and don’t worry about anything else.’ When you do that, good things tend to happen.”

Meanwhile, the Marlins are set on Monday to start left-hander Braxton Garrett (2-2, 6.10).

In three career starts against the Cardinals, Garrett is 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA.

Historically, the Cardinals are 134-87 against the Marlins. However, the Marlins have won four of their past five home games against St. Louis, and that includes a 3-1 series win last July.

Miami is also 4-2 this year when starting Garrett, although the Marlins have dropped their past two games in that scenario.

Garrett’s strikeout rate per nine innings of 8.1 is the worst mark of his five-year MLB career. Rather than his fastball, Garrett relies on a hard sinker, a plus sweeper and a changeup that hitters struggle to lift.

With right-hander Gray set to take the mound on Monday, it’s interesting to note that the Marlins are 20-25 against right-handed starters this year. The Marlins are 3-23 against lefty starters, and that’s the fewest wins in the majors under that criteria.

If the Marlins get a late lead on Monday, expect to see closer Tanner Scott, a lefty who allowed no runs — earned or otherwise — in 10 1/3 May innings. He struck out 11 during that span.

Scott gets rare movement with his hard slider, but he can also bury batters with his 97-mph fastball.

As a team, the Marlins return home on Monday after a 1-5 road trip. They got swept by the Nationals, who are 7-0 against Miami this season.

Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Washington marked the 20th time this year that the Marlins have held to one run or fewer.

“We’re not getting the big hit right now,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “We have guys struggling in the middle of the order who have to get hot again.

“There are peaks and valleys. We’re trying to get them out of the valley, back up to where they’re supposed to be. We’re in a rut right now.”

–Field Level Media

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