Francisco Liriano (1-1, 1.95 ERA) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (13-15) square off against Michael Wacha (4-0, 1.93 ERA) and the St. Louis Cardinals (21-7) in a game that has the potential to be low scoring. This is the first of a three-game series at PNC Park. Action begins at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday, May. 8 and can be seen on FSN-MW and ROOT-PIT.
Liriano is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in his appearances against the Cardinals, but goes up against a good St. Louis offense which is batting .273 this season. Starling Marte (.255, 15 Rs, 7 HRs, 20 RBIs, 5 SBs) went 1 for 3 yesterday with one run and two RBIs. Wacha is 1-0 with a 1.31 ERA when pitching against the Pirates. He takes on a below-average Pittsburgh offense which is hitting just .230 this season. Matt Holliday (.344, 14 Rs, 1 HR, 14 RBIs, 2 SBs) went 1 for 3 yesterday.
Pittsburgh is a -119 favorite against St. Louis and the Over/Under (O/U) for this game is sitting at six runs. The Pirates have an overall money line of -527 and a record as the favorite of 9-8. Pittsburgh has had a discouraging season against division opponents, earning records of 5-6 and 8-13 as the favorite and SU respectively. The Pirates have seen a decline in scoring as of late, averaging 2.5 runs during the last 10 games compared to their season average of 3.5 runs per game. Pittsburgh's pitchers fall apart when division rivals are on the field. Its average runs allowed per game rises to 3.8 against fellow NL Central members, compared to its 3.3 season average.
In the other locker room, St. Louis is coming in with an overall money line of +1,252 and an impressive record of 3-2 as the dog. They have been playing solid baseball as the underdog with a 2-1 record against NL Central rivals, and a 16-5 record SU. Offensively, the Cardinals have really picked up the pace in the last 10 games. They have exceeded their season average of 4.5 runs per game by averaging 5.9 during that stretch. St. Louis is excellent at drawing walks with 3.5 per game, ranking third in the NL. St. Louis's pitching staff has set the standard for its league, with an NL-low 2.59 ERA. When it comes to preventing batters from getting hits, the Cardinals are fifth in the NL with an average of 8.2 hits allowed per game. The Cardinals have established a reputation of overwhelming hitters with an NL-best 8.2 strikeouts per game, making them one of the top five teams in the league.
The Cardinals have the edge in the season series, 3-0. The Pirates have a 12-13 record against right-handed starting pitchers on the year, which is what they'll be facing when Wacha takes the mound. Liriano (LHP) will be on the hill against the Cardinals, who have a 3-3 record against left-handed starting pitchers.
Predictions: SU Winner - STL, O/U - Over
The Cardinals sit at 16-5 against their divisional rivals, while the Pirates are 9-13.
The Cardinals are 4-1 in games that go into extra innings. Meanwhile, the Pirates are 0-4 in such matchups.
The Cardinals are coming into this game after allowing two walks during their last outing. The Pirates have a 7-10 record when opponents give up that many walks or fewer.
When they outhit their opponents, the Cardinals are 14-5. The Pirates have a 10-2 record when outhitting opponents.
Ranking 26th, Pittsburgh is near the bottom of the league in runs, scoring 101 this season. St. Louis ranks in the top half at 11th with 126.
Ranking 26th, Pittsburgh is near the bottom of the league in walks, notching 65 this season. St. Louis ranks in the top 10 at eighth with 95.
When the Pirates hit at least one home run, they are 8-7. When the Cardinals hit at least one homer, they have an 11-3 record.