The St. Louis Cardinals took the night off last night, as they got far too comfortable against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. When you take a team lightly and don’t show up, losses of 9-4 against inferior talent can happen. The Cardinals must avoid taking opponents lightly down the stretch in the money month of August. They have a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central, which could quickly turn into a 2.5-game deficit if they don’t watch out.
The Cubs are alive and well in the NL Central race despite trailing the Cardinals going into Saturday. Milwaukee was able to help the Cardinals out Friday night at Miller Park. With a chance to get even closer to the Cards, the Brewers belted the Cubs by a score of 7-1.
It was a missed opportunity in that one for the Cubs. Every game at this point gets put under a magnifying glass. Losses and wins become that much more important in the final few weeks of the regular season. That is true tenfold for teams in a postseason race.
Whoever doesn’t win the division in the NL Central and finishes 2nd is in a good position to grab a wildcard, though. That’s the next best scenario. St. Louis have worked hard to get the top spot in the NL Central. It’d be a huge blow if they fall back and have to settle for the Wild Card Game.
Getting momentum back on their side might be tough in that case. Adam Wainwright will look to get the Cards back on track Saturday in Pittsburgh. He gets the starting nod against Steven Brault of the Pirates. Head below for our free Cardinals vs. Pirates pick.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Pick:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
The Cardinals will look to get consecutive standout performances by Adam Wainwright today. He was flawless in his most recent outing, as he neutralized the Giants for 4 hits and no runs across 7 innings of work. He was flying through innings with just 13.7 pitches per inning. Wainwright was also solid in a 12-2 win for the Cards against the Brewers in Milwaukee prior to that outing.
In his previous 10.2 innings pitched, Wainwright has allowed only 2 earned runs. He’s had a few starts to skew his ERA up to a 4.30, but Wainwright has generally been pretty consistent. In his previous seven starts, he’s allowed 3 or less runs in six of them. If he could somehow find another gear in September and October, the Cardinals would be in business.
Wainwright has been solid against the Pirates in his career, as they are hitting .259 in 166 at-bats. The only knack for him has been his ERA on the road. He carries a 6.54 ERA and 1.62 WHIP going into Saturday. However, he’s been showing signs of getting better as a visitor. Wainwright has allowed 3 or less runs in each of his last three outings on the road.
Steven Brault has allowed 3 home runs and 13 runs against the Cards in 89 at-bats. They are hitting .258 vs Brault, so it’s consistent with Wainwright. Last night in Pittsburgh was a rare sight, as the Pirates beat the Cardinals. It’s especially rare because it happened at PNC Park.
The Cardinals were on the verge of a ten-game winning streak in Pittsburgh before the Bucs prevented that last night. In their last 32 meetings, the Cards have gone 23-9, so this has been a series dominated by St. Louis. After failing to play a complete game last night, look for the Cardinals to respond with a much better effort Saturday. The Cards look like the play in this spot.