Paul Goldschmidt is on a tear, but he's about to face one of the best young pitchers in the NL.
In his first scheduled meeting with rookie sensation Shelby Miller, Goldschmidt will try to continue his torrid hitting and help the Arizona Diamondbacks cap this four-game series with a third straight win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.
Goldschmidt is one of the biggest reasons Arizona (34-25) is atop the NL West, and he continues to be the club's biggest threat at the plate. The first baseman - who had 20 homers and 82 RBIs last year - leads the team in 2013 with a .336 average and 14 homers, and his 53 RBIs are tops in the league.
"He's on a roll and he's really carrying us," manager Kirk Gibson said of Goldschmidt, who could be in line for an All-Star appearance next month. "He's got a great approach up there. He's a huge cog for us and he's getting better."
Goldschmidt has made his presence felt over the last 11 games, batting .413 while driving in 17 runs and scoring 11. His only two homers in that stretch were grand slams, and he connected for the most recent one in Wednesday's 10-3 win at St. Louis. That was a day after he drove in the decisive run in a 7-6, 14-inning win.
Goldschmidt has five hits - three for extra bases - and six RBI over the last two games of this series.
"I feel like every time I come up there I have men on base," Goldschmidt said. "I've had a lot of opportunities."
The Cardinals (38-21), who are trying to avoid matching their season-high three-game slide from April 27-29, are hoping Miller (6-3, 1.82 ERA) can stop Goldschmidt in his first meeting with the Diamondbacks.
The 22-year-old right-hander also seems headed for the All-Star game in New York since he owns the lowest ERA in the NL, and has limited opponents to a .203 batting average.
Miller has been superb at Busch Stadium, going 3-1 with a 0.79 ERA in five starts, tossing 21 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three there. It's the longest such streak for a Cardinals rookie at home since John Costello went 22 1-3 in 1988.
Miller's impressive stretch continued with seven innings and as many strikeouts in Saturday's 8-0 win over San Francisco.
Matt Carpenter - like Goldschmidt - is thriving in his second full season in the majors, batting .333, and his 47 runs are among the NL leaders.
Carpenter, who has nine hits in this series, is batting .450 during a career-best 14-game hitting streak that coincided with his move to the leadoff spot.
"You get to get up there, start the game off, kind of get the momentum going, and it's something I do really enjoy," Carpenter told the team's official website.
The Diamondbacks will turn to Ian Kennedy (3-3, 4.74), who is 2-3 with a 7.14 ERA in five career starts versus the Cardinals.
The right-hander allowed two runs with eight strikeouts in seven innings of an opening-day 6-2 win against them April 1. However, he followed that up by going 0-3 with a 5.19 ERA over his next seven outings before winning his last two decisions over his three most recent games.
Kennedy earned a 12-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, getting his first road victory of the season while allowing four runs with seven strikeouts in seven innings.