Wednesday’s 4-1 win in Baltimore pushed the Philadelphia Phillies
to a place they haven’t been since the end of the 2011 season –
eight games over .500.

Philadelphia tries to push its 24-16 record up another notch
Thursday night when it starts a four-game series at the St. Louis
Cardinals.

“We’re all really positive in here right now,” said Phillies
pitcher Nick Pivetta, who fanned 11 in seven innings to earn the
win over the Orioles. “Everybody is jelling together. You guys can
see it. It’s really, really fun in here right now.”

Fun is something Philadelphia hasn’t experienced much of the last
five years in Busch Stadium. The Phillies are just 5-13 under the
Gateway Arch, dating to 2013, including a three-game sweep last
June in which they were outscored 16-7.

But this Philadelphia team is far better than those teams that
mostly flailed to no avail in St. Louis. The Phillies have a better
lineup, led by Odubel Herrera, who has reached base in 42 straight
games dating to the end of 2017, and have upgraded their pitching
with the late addition of Jake Arrieta during spring training.

Arrieta has stabilized a promising young rotation that includes
power right-hander Vince Velasquez (3-4, 5.05 ERA), who makes the
start on Thursday night. Velasquez is coming off a 6-3 win on May
10 against San Francisco in which he fanned 12 over six innings,
allowing five hits and three runs in the process.

This will be Velasquez’s second career start against the Cardinals.
He lost his first outing in August 2016, ceding five runs on seven
hits in six innings during a 9-0 defeat. Velasquez allowed two
homers, walked two and whiffed seven.

Another young righty, Luke Weaver (3-2, 4.91), gets the call for
St. Louis (23-17) as it opens a seven-game homestand. Weaver
snapped a three-game losing streak on Friday night in San Diego,
making it through five scoreless innings in a 9-5 laugher over the
Padres.

Weaver will face Philadelphia for the second time in his career. In
a 2016 defeat to the Phillies, Weaver permitted three runs and nine
hits in five innings, recording six strikeouts and walking one.

The Cardinals arrive back in town after splitting a six-game road
trip against San Diego and Minnesota. They broke out offensively
Wednesday in a 7-5 decision over the Twins as struggling Matt
Carpenter and Dexter Fowler combined for five hits.

Carpenter and Fowler entered the day with the lowest averages among
qualified hitters in the National League at .140 and .146,
respectively. But Carpenter had three hits, including a pair of
doubles, and Fowler stroked two hits, including a two-run single in
the first off former teammate Lance Lynn.

“It was nice to see the offense get into rhythm today. Hopefully,
this is a little foreshadowing for what is to come. Hopefully,
we’ll get this going on the next homestand every day,” Carpenter
said.

Carpenter batted seventh Wednesday, the lowest he’s hit in the
order since July 22, 2015.

“He’s real close to getting right,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny
said. “His swings looked very good. We know the type of hitter he
can be.”