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Scherzer, Martinez set for marquee matchup

MLB.com

The series finale between the Cardinals and Nationals will not be a typical midseason game. Instead, the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball affair will see two of the best pitchers in MLB facing off under the lights at Busch Stadium as the Cardinals try for the three-game sweep of the Nationals.

In a game that is sure to be a must-see, Max Scherzer and Carlos Martinez will take the mound and try to show what they can do on national TV.

View Full Game Coverage

The series finale between the Cardinals and Nationals will not be a typical midseason game. Instead, the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball affair will see two of the best pitchers in MLB facing off under the lights at Busch Stadium as the Cardinals try for the three-game sweep of the Nationals.

In a game that is sure to be a must-see, Max Scherzer and Carlos Martinez will take the mound and try to show what they can do on national TV.

View Full Game Coverage

"I've been hearing it for a week now, people talking about this matchup," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "With that being said, you can fall victim to it. But hopefully [Martinez] just goes out and pitches like he's been pitching and trust the fact that that's going to be good enough against anybody."

The "anybody" Martinez (6-6, 2.88 ERA) will be facing just happens to be the best pitcher in the National League in terms of ERA (2.06), strikeouts (151) and WHIP (0.78). Scherzer also has two complete games this year. Looking for his 10th win, the Chesterfield, Mo., native and University of Missouri alum has been fantastic of late. He's allowed more than one earned run just once in his last seven starts and reached double-digit strikeouts in six of those games.

"You love competing against the best game in the game. [Martinez is] a terrific pitcher and goes about his business the right way, and that's who you want to face, you want to face the best," Scherzer said. "You always find a way to motivate yourself, always find a way to get up for every single game, but this one's easy to get up for."

Scherzer ranks first in right-handed-hitters' batting average against, but his opponent on Sunday is right behind him in second (Scherzer, .125; Martinez, .171).

Martinez will be searching for his first career win against the Nationals, the only NL team he has not beaten. He is 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in five career appearances vs. Washington, with his only start coming in May 2016, when Martinez allowed four runs over 6 2/3 innings.

Martinez has posted quality starts in 11 of his last 12 outings and is coming off a dominant performance in Arizona, in which the right-hander allowed four hits and two runs over six innings, striking out 10.

Things to know about this game

• The Cardinals expect to have first baseman Matt Carpenter and right fielder Stephen Piscotty back in the lineup on Sunday. Both got a day off on Saturday to guard against fatigue.

• Scherzer's first appearance this season against his hometown team came on April 12. In a 6-1 loss, he allowed four hits and three runs (one earned) over six innings, while striking out 10.

• Yadier Molina is in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak, tying the longest of his career. The longest hitting streak by a Cardinals catcher is 19 games, reached twice by Ted Simmons.

Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.