Matchup: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Date/Time: August 14, 8:15 p.m. EST

Television: ESPN

Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh (Liriano) vs. St. Louis (Miller)

MLB Gambling Odds from BetOnline

Moneyline: Cardinals (-123) Pirates (+113)

Total: 7


The Pittsburgh Pirates have surprised everyone with their amazing run so far this year. The last two seasons they fell apart down the stretch, so everyone is waiting to see whether it will happen in 2013. The Pirates have a little bit of a lead over the Cardinals and the Reds in the NL Central. This series is crucial for both teams as they jockey for playoff positioning.

Game Overview:

Pittsburgh is in the driver’s seat in the NL Central, but there is a ton of time left in the season. The Pirates were swept by the Colorado Rockies, and that sweep had to give Pirates fans a little bit of pause. They are all hoping this year will be different than the rest. Pittsburgh is almost assured of a winning record, but this team is looking to get back to the postseason. Pittsburgh is first in the majors in overall team ERA. The Pirates have one of the top bullpens in the majors, and their starting rotation has been rock solid all year.

Francisco Liriano has been the team’s best pitcher most of the year, but he had a terrible outing at Coors Field last week. Liriano allowed 10 runs in less than 3 innings last time out. He’ll need to get back to his old form in this one. The Pirates offense has been up and down this year. The injury to leadoff hitter Starling Marte is a big hit to this team. He is doubtful for Wednesday’s game due to a hand injury. Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen has been on fire of late, and he is leading his team right now.

The St. Louis Cardinals had the best record in baseball for much of the year, but they have been struggling a bit the last few weeks. It is no coincidence that the Cardinals started struggling when Yadier Molina went down. Molina is a MVP candidate this year, and when he is out the team is missing their best offensive and defensive player. Molina is hitting .330 this year, and he is the best defensive catcher in baseball. While he has been out, the Cardinals pitching staff has seen their ERA quickly go up. Some of the Cardinals youngsters haven’t been nearly as good of late. Shelby Miller will start in this one. Miller has struggled on the road of late, but he has  dazzling 1.74 ERA at home this season.

The Cardinals offense certainly misses Molina, but they still have plenty of guys who can hit the baseball. Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Matt Holliday, and Carlos Beltran have all been swinging the bat really well of late. The Cardinals have consistently had the best offense in the National League all year. St. Louis is averaging 4.91 runs per game, and they are batting .274 as a team.

Free MLB Pick: Under 7

Miller has been lights out at home, and Liriano is likely to bounce back from his rare very bad start last time out. Look for a low scoring game here.