The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals are at the opposite ends of the success spectrum in June. The Rangers have opened the month with a five-game winning streak, while the Cardinals are on a five-game losing streak.
The teams will close a three-game series on Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas, with the Rangers starting right-hander Jon Gray (6-1, 2.51 ERA) as they pursue their fifth sweep of the season. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Jack Flaherty (3-4, 4.55).
Gray has won his past five starts, logging a 0.79 ERA in that stretch. The most recent Texas starter to win five consecutive starts was Lance Lynn from June 17-July 11, 2019.
Gray threw seven shutout innings to beat the Seattle Mariners on Friday in his latest outing. He allowed two hits and a walk while striking out five.
In three career starts vs. the Cardinals -- all at St. Louis -- Gray is 1-1 with a 7.47 ERA. However, he hasn't opposed the Cardinals since 2018.
Gray will hope for offensive support from Marcus Semien, who is riding the majors' longest hitting streak of the season, 25 games. Semien is three games shy of matching the club record set by Gabe Kapler during the 2000 season.
Semien extended his streak with a go-ahead, two-run double on Tuesday, a play that scored three runs courtesy of an error by the Cardinals. The Rangers won 6-4.
"Of course, Marcus, he was the big story of the game with that bases-clearing double," Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. "So, good game for us."
Bochy went on to praise Adolis Garcia, who had a four-hit game, and reliever Josh Sborz, who retired all five batters he faced and struck out the last four.
Most important, according to the Texas manager, is the team is having fun.
"They play with a lot of energy and have fun out there," Bochy said. "It's easy to see. That's who they are, and I want them to continue to play like that."
The Cardinals, on the other hand, aren't having too much fun these days, as they have the worst record in the National League.
Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak discussed the disappointing season in an interview on Bally Sports Midwest before the Tuesday game.
Asked how he'd evaluate the team, Mozeliak said, "In fairness, you have to be honest and say it hasn't been good. Expectations for this season were high. Obviously we got off to a terrible start in April, started to breathe a little life into the club back in May, and then we've gotten off on the wrong foot in June."
But Mozeliak hasn't given up on the season, saying, "There's time to right this."
Flaherty will look to get the Cardinals going in the proper direction. He allowed one run on six hits over 5 1/3 innings in his latest start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. In his prior outing, he gave up one run over seven innings against the Cleveland Guardians on May 27.
Flaherty has faced the Rangers once in his career. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings on May 19, 2019, at the Rangers' old ballpark across the street from Globe Life Field.
The Cardinals found their power stroke on Tuesday, hitting three home runs. Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras and Jordan Walker went deep off Rangers starter Dane Dunning, who had not allowed a home run this year going into the game.
--Field Level Media