Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 7:00 AM
At the time, it was portrayed as the most important baseball series played in Pittsburgh for two decades. The St. Louis Cardinals were in town, and they brought with them the best record in baseball. The Cardinals left Pittsburgh in second place in the NL Central, looking to all the world like a big game pretender who could run up the score on bad pitchers…but who otherwise shriveled up under pressure.
Since then, the Cards dropped three of four at home to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That makes St. Louis 2-10 recently against the three teams who currently lead National League divisions (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and LAD). So, the return bout with Pittsburgh (a three-game set that begins Tuesday Night) is arguably the most important series to be played in St. Louis this season.
*The Cards can send a message to Pittsburgh about who’s going to win the NL Central
*The Cards can send a message to the whole NL about what’s going to happen in October
*The Cards could crumble under the pressure, mentally eliminating themselves already from the title chase!
St. Louis has stacked the rotation to make sure they have the best arms going in this series. Adam Wainwright was held out of the Chicago series this past weekend so he could have a couple extra days of rest to throw crucial innings against the division leader. He’ll be followed by rookie star Shelby Miller on Wednesday. The 1-2 spot in the Cards’ rotation will get the 1-2 spots in this series. Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups for the whole series…
Pittsburgh…Morton: 4-3, 3.88 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
St. Louis…Wainwright: 13-7, 2.66 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Morton’s been one of many NL pitchers this year to thrive against bad offenses, but struggle in the rare times they come up against a good offense. That doesn’t bode well here. The Cards scored five runs in six innings against him a couple of weeks ago, in the game St. Louis won 13-0 to prevent what would have been a five-game Pirates sweep.
Wainwright is, of course, one of the best pitchers in the National League. He’s the ace of the St. Louis staff...and was held back through the weekend so he could open this huge series instead of wasting innings against the lowly Cubs. He will be a pricey favorite in this must-win game. The Cards will really have to question their championship potential if they can’t win this one.
Pittsburgh …Cole: 5-5, 3.95 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
St. Louis … Miller: 11-7, 2.89 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Cole has amazing velocity. But, he’s not getting the number of strikeouts you’d expect for that hard a thrower. And, he’s mostly faced the worst of the NL’s offenses so far. He managed to miss the St. Louis series the first time around because his “every fifth day” didn’t land in that four-day event (five games in four days with a DH). This will be his biggest test so far in his young career.
Miller had to leave his last start after just a few pitches because he got hit on the arm by a line drive. All reports are that he’ll be good-to-go for this game that will be nationally televised by ESPN. Miller’s ERA has risen almost a run over his last 10 starts, as some of his “first look” advantages are fading away. He also missed the most recent series against the Pirates, but saw them twice back in April. Fascinating battle of young pitching stars.
Pittsburgh …Liriano: 12-5, 2.83 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
St. Louis … Lynn: 13-6, 3.79 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Liriano got rocked his last time out in Colorado. That’s not the end of the world, because a lot of pitchers have trouble at altitude! He should be more concerned about the potent bats of St. Louis getting a second look at him so quickly. He did throw seven strong innings in that recent series. Did that give the Cards time to figure him out?
Lynn continues to be inconsistent. He’s not really a 3.79 pitcher in the classic sense. He’s a feast or famine pitcher who’s average settles into that range. He did throw well in Pittsburgh. He’s just as capable of getting hit hard based on the ups and downs over his last 10 starts. Note that this will be a DAY game in a get-away spot. St. Louis heads to Chicago for a day-game Friday against the Cubs. Pittsburgh goes back home to host Arizona.
JIM HURLEY will likely have at least one big play in this series. Remember that game day BEST BETS are available at this website daily for credit card purchase. If you have any questions about baseball or football programs, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
We’ll have a baseball report for you again on Wednesday. Then, we’ll finish off our summer series of NFL divisional previews as follows:
Thursday: NFC South Preview to get you ready for Atlanta vs. Baltimore
Friday: NFC West Preview to get you ready for San Francisco vs. Kansas City
Saturday: NFC North Preview to get you ready for Green Bay vs. St. Louis
Keep building your bankrolls for the FOOTBALL FRENZY ahead with MLB pennant race action and NFL Preseason powderkegs. You’ll always GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!