Cardinals and Pirates Give Little Leaguers a Hitting Clinic

Willie Bee

Sunday, August 20, 2017 2:58 PM UTC

Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017 2:58 PM UTC

The inaugural MLB Little League Classic finds several sports books slow to release their baseball odds in a crucial clash between the Pirates and Cardinals.

The little boys of summer take a short break from their World Series when the big boys of summer come to Williamsport. The finale of a 4-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates will be full of pomp and circumstance, ESPN rolling its cameras at 7 PM (ET) and the initial mound duel is between Mike Leake (7-11, 3.88) and Ivan Nova (10-10, 3.77). Bookmaker has the Bucs very slight -108 favorites with 9½ for the total.

The first three games of the series were played back in Pittsburgh where the Cardinals won a pair of slugfests, first taking Thursday’s opener by an 11-7 count before hanging on for an 11-10 decision on Friday. Saturday’s contest was marred by an early rain delay, Pittsburgh eventually riding a big second inning to a 6-4 triumph. All three games this weekend at PNC went ‘over’ the totals after the ‘under’ swept the series when they played in Iron City in July.


Both Hurlers Have Been Banged Around In Recent Outings
Leake is going up against the Pirates for the fourth time this season, the righthander winning one and no-decisioning in the other two that the Cardinals split. He and the Redbirds were +120 underdogs on the MLB odds in Pittsburgh a little more than a month ago, Leake experiencing some wildness with five walks and working only five innings in a match that ended 5-2 in Pittsburgh’s favor thanks to a Josh Bell walk-off blast. St. Louis has dropped six of his last eight assignments, Leake posting a 6.39 ERA in that span.

Pittsburgh has also struggled recently with Nova on the bump, the Pirates 1-4 his last five times out during which time the Dominican has pitched to a 6.03 ERA. Half of the 22 homers Nova has allowed this season have been hit in his last eight starts, a stretch of 47 innings. He has only faced the Cardinals once before, that appearance back in April when the clubs met in St, Louis. Nova was solid (8 IP, 2 ER), but didn’t get enough support in a 2-1 setback.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Crew chief Gerry Davis will complete one full turn through the rotation for the umpires, and brings a 6-14-2 O/U/P record into the contest. That ‘under’ trend has been in full swing recently with seven of his last nine plate assignments never reaching the totals. The St. Louis native worked a Nova road start earlier this season, that match staying just ‘under’ a 7½ run scoreboard target.

It should be mostly clear this evening in Williamsport, the thermometer hanging in the mid-to-upper 70s with a very light SW breeze (out to center). I’m generally skeptical of these MLB marketing exercises, and also skeptical of the two hurlers in this park with my free baseball pick on the ‘over.’

My MLB pick: Cardinals-Pirates Over 9½ (+100) at Bookmaker

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Season: 63-64-3 (+1.24)

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