CARDINALS (62-40) @ PIRATES (61-42)
STL Jake Westbrook (7-4, 2.95 ERA) vs PIT Francisco Liriano (10-4, 2.23 ERA)
Some are calling it the most important series in PNC Park History as the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals begin a five game set tonight at PNC Park. The Cardinals losers of three straight, hold a 1.5 games lead over the Pirates for the NL Central lead. The statistics say the Cardinals should hold a bigger lead over the Pirates but they don’t and the only true impact this series is going to have is on whether the Pirates make some ground for the division title.
When it comes to the wildcard/play in game, the Pirates remain in very comfortable position.
The Cardinals come into tonight’s game with an MLB-best +134 run differential and are first in the NL in runs (498), batting avg (.274), OBP (.335) (1ST IN NL), and OPS (.746). They also lead the Majors batting .338 with runners in scoring position. 1B Allen Craig is hitting .485 with RISP.
Tonight’s pitching matchup features Francisco Liriano (10-4, 2.23 ERA) vs Jake Westbrook (7-4, 2.95 ERA). Westbrook went 1-7 with a 5.91 ERA vs the Pirates from 2010-2012 but pitched six shutout innings vs the Pirates on April 27th.
The Pirates have won five of Liriano’s last six starts. Liriano is 5-1 with a 1.67 ERA at home this season.
*Catcher Michael McKenry has been put on the 15-day DL and could be out a while. Alex Presley has been recalled. Presley will be in the lineup. Tony Sanchez is also back up with the team.
*Starling Marte hitting .143 with 18 strikeouts since the All-Star Break is scratched tonight.