Diamondbacks Notebook: First Road Trip of the Season Begins in St. Louis

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After a 5-1 homestand featuring series wins over the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks are on the road for the first time in 2018.

The D-Backs will play three games against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, before traveling to AT&T Park for three games against the San Francisco Giants. The trip will end with three games against the team they just swept, the Dodgers, at Dodger Stadium in southern California.

All told, Arizona will play nine games in 11 days against three National League teams with playoff aspirations. When the 2018 season comes to an end, the Diamondbacks will have traveled 36,460 miles, the seventh-most in the Major League Baseball.

Here are the top six:

– Seattle Mariners (40,783)

– Oakland Athletics (39,906)

– Los Angeles Angels (39,125)

– Houston Astros (39,080)

– San Diego Padres (38,759)

– Miami Marlins (36,484)

Another one of the D-Backs’ NL West division rivals, the San Diego Padres, will travel the fewest miles this season.

The D-Backs went 41-40 away from the friendly confines of Chase Field in 2017. A good barometer for a playoff team is a sparkling record at home, which the Diamondbacks had at 52-29, and a slightly above .500 record on the road. If manager Torey Lovullo‘s club wants to accomplish their goals of winning the division this season, Arizona should look to improve on their road record from 2018.

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In the Mound City

Scouting Report: The Cardinals return home for the first time this season, sporting a 3-3 record after dropping two of three to the New York Mets to open the year at Citi Field before winning their first series of the season against a division rival, the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Matt Carpenter has reached base safely in all six games to begin 2018. Yadier Molina has already hit three home runs and the Cardinals have hit 12 as a team, the third-most in the majors. Keeping the ball in the park will be critical. New acquisition Marcell Ozuna is a force in the middle of the lineup. New closer Greg Holland joined the Cardinals on Monday and the D-Backs could see a familiar face in the righty.

After a sensational start to 2018 at Chase Field, the @Dbacks hit the road for the first time this season.Click To Tweet

Ray on the Road: Robbie Ray did not look right in his first start, but maybe pitching on the road is all he needs. Ray went 8-1 with a 1.82 ERA in 15 road starts last season. He ranked second among major league starters on the road in ERA and opponents batting average (.176), third in hits per nine innings pitched (5.59) and strikeouts per nine innings pitched (12.31), tied for fourth in strikeouts (119) and was sixth in WHIP (0.99).

Get Goldy Going: Paul Goldschmidt only had one hit in 17 at-bats in the opening homestand, but maybe playing against the Cardinals is what he needs. He has 8 home runs and 22 RBIs in 37 career games against the Cardinals.

Efficiency from Taijuan: If there is one starter to worry about on this club, it is Taijuan Walker, who will start on Sunday. He needed 98 pitches to get through five innings in his first start against the Dodgers. Walker threw 4.08 pitches per plate appearance. His off speed stuff is not elite, so he has to command his fastball, especially heaters up in the zone, to make his breaking ball play up.

Last Laugh: The D-Backs went 3-4 against the Cardinals in 2017 and 2-2 at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals got the last laugh, winning a series at home last July. Jose Martinez is a career .364 hitter against the D-Backs and Ozuna is a career .306 hitter with 5 homers and 18 RBIs.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Thursday: LHP Robbie Ray (1-0, 10.80 ERA) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (season debut)

Saturday: RHP Zack Greinke (0-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (0-1, 7.71 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Taijuan Walker (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. RHP Luke Weaver (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

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In other news…

– D-Backs general manager Mike Hazen said Steven Souza Jr. could return by the end of this road trip or the beginning of the next homestand.

– D-Backs shortstop Nick Ahmed said he is feeling better after missing the last two games due to illness.

– Hazen also said the D-Backs will eventually bring their bullpen down from eight to seven relievers and add an extra bench player. When that happens remains to be seen.

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