Sundays's Game Three
By: Ron Patrick
Pittsburgh took Game 2 of this series Saturday afternoon 5-3, pulling off yet another late-inning rally with four runs in the seventh inning to overcome a 2-0 deficit.
The Pirates got a quality outing from AJ Burnett Saturday and a clutch, opposite-field game-tying homer in the seventh from Russell Martin.
Saturday's game sneaked OVER its total of seven when Carlos Beltran drove in the last run of the day with a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth.
So the Cardinals lead Pittsburgh by a half-game in the NL Central as the teams head into a rubber match Sunday afternoon (2:15 pm ET).
Sunday's Betting Odds
As of early Sunday AM most books were listing the MLB betting odds with St. Louis and Shelby Miller (3-1, 1.44) at around -185 for this series finale, while Pittsburgh with Jonathan Locke (2-1, 3.74) was getting around +175.
Sunday's Pitching Match-Up
The 22-year-old Miller is three-for-four on quality starts this season. First, he allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings vs. the Giants; then he threw seven innings of one-hit, shut-out ball vs. the Brewers; then he held these Pirates to two runs through six innings; and last time out, Monday night in DC, he allowed two unearned runs in 6 2/3 innings vs. the Nationals.
So for the season the 19th-overall pick in the draft four years ago has given up four ER and just 14 hits in 25 innings, with seven walks and 26 strikeouts.
Lefty Locke opened this season by giving up four runs in six innings vs. the Dodgers, then held the Reds to one run in six innings. He then got nicked for four runs in less than five innings vs. the Braves, but last time out, Tuesday in Philly, Locke bounced back by holding the Phillies scoreless on two hits through six innings.
We'll note, though, that Philadelphia ranks in the bottom third in baseball in most offensive categories at the moment.
On the season Locke has allowed nine runs and 20 hits through 21 2/3 innings, with 11 walks and 12 strikeouts.
This will be Locke's first-ever appearance vs. St. Louis.
Our Take on Sunday's Game
Locke burned us his last time out, so we're looking for a little payback. And we think we've found it here with St. Louis, which is 4-1 this season vs. left-handed starting pitching. But the price on today's game is a little steep, so we'll take a chance and add the Cardinals on a run-line bet to our list of free MLB picks for Sunday.Free MLB Pick: Take the Cardinals at the +118 on the run line at Bet365
Saturdays's Game Two
By: Ron Patrick
The Cardinals got a very quality start from Lance Lynn and rapped out 13 hits in winning as -190 favorites on the MLB betting odds.
Friday's game also, thankfully, sneaked OVER its total of 8.5 thanks to those late St. Louis runs.
So the Cardinals now lead the Pirates in the NL Central by a game and a half heading into Saturday's bout (4:15 pm ET).
Bettors might want to note the forecast calls for rain in St. Louis today, so there's a chance this game might be delayed, or wet, or even postponed.
Saturday's Betting Odds
As of Saturday AM the best price we could find on St. Louis with Jake Westbrook was the -118 offered at TheGreek, while Pittsburgh with AJ Burnett could be gotten at +110 at several shops, including BetOnline.
Saturday's Pitching Match-Up
Westbrook is making his fourth start of this year, after missing one turn in the rotation because of a rain-out. In his first, he held the Giants to one unearned run through 6 2/3 innings, but walked six guys; in his second, he threw a five-hit shut-out against the Reds; and last time out, last Sunday, he allowed three runs in six innings vs. the Phillies.
For the season Westbrook has given up just three ER and 18 hits in 21 2/3 innings, but his K/BB ratio is backwards, with eight whiffs and 14 walks. Strange.
Last year Westbrook walked 52 in 175 innings, so maybe his early-season control problems are temporary.
Also last year Westbrook started five times against the Pirates, and got roughed up a bit, giving up 18 ER and 42 hits through 31 2/3 innings. The Cardinals lost four of those five games.
Through his first five starts of this season Burnett has limited foes to nine runs and 22 hits in 29 innings, walked 11 and struck out an NL-high 42. Ten days ago Burnett stymied these Cardinals, taking a no-hitter into the seventh, allowing just one hit and no runs in a 5-0 Pirates victory. Then Tuesday Burnett allowed two runs in five innings in a 3-2 loss to Philly.
So after a fine 2012 season Burnett is off to an excellent start here in 2013, even though Pittsburgh has only won two of his first five starts.
Last year Burnett faced the Cardinals three times, and did the Goldilocks thing; one start went great, allowing three hits and no runs through seven innings; one start was disastrous, when he got sacrificed for 12 runs (!) in 2 2/3 innings; and the other start fell in the middle, when he gave up three runs through 5 2/3 innings.
Our Take on Today's Game
We had success earlier in the week with Pittsburgh in Philly, and we give Burnett the edge in the pitching match-up. On top of that the Pirates are getting an underdog price. So we'll add the Bucs to our list of free MLB picks for Saturday.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Pirates at the +110 offered at Bet 365.
Friday Game 1
By: Ron Patrick
Can the Cardinals extend their lead over the Pirates, or can Pittsburgh overtake St. Louis, and how might we benefit financially with our MLB picks on this series?
Pirates-Cardinals MLB Betting Odds
As of Friday morning the best MLB odds we could find on Friday night's game for St. Louis with Lance Lynn was the -195 offered at 5Dimes, while Pittsburgh with Jonathan Sanchez could be gotten at +190 at TheGreek.
Also, most online sportsbooks were listing the total on Friday's game at 8.5.
Longer-term, Bovada was listing the Cardinals at -220 to win this series, with the Pirates getting +180.
Pirates-Cardinals Series Set-Up
St. Louis just pulled a neat trick, sweeping three games from the Nationals in Washington to complete a 6-3 road trip. The Cards finished off the brooming of the Nats with a 4-2 victory Wednesday.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, just took three of four games from the Phillies in Philly, capped off by a come-from-behind 6-4 victory Thursday afternoon.
So the Cardinals, at 13-8, lead the National League Central by a half-game over the 13-9 Pirates.
Friday's Pitching Match-Up
Lynn is two-for-four on quality starts this season. He opened this season by giving up four runs in four innings vs. Arizona, but then held the Reds to one run in six innings, striking out 10. He then allowed four runs in five innings vs. these Pirates, but last time out Lynn threw seven innings of one-hit, shut-out ball against the Phillies.
We would note, though, that Philly is not a very good offensive team at the moment.
So for the season Lynn has given up nine runs and 18 hits through 22 innings, with 25 strikeouts. The Cardinals have won three of his four starts.
Including the start 11 days ago Lynn has made six appearances vs. Pittsburgh over the last 12 months, and the Pirates have gotten to him for 17 ER and 27 hits in 29 1/3 innings.
Last year, Lynn's ERA against the Pirates was 4.80; vs. everybody else it was 3.62. Go figure.
Sanchez has had a rough ride so far this season, going 0-for-three on quality starts, allowing 14 runs and 18 hits just 11 1/3 innings of work. First he gave up three runs in five innings vs. the Dodgers; then he got bit for nine runs in less than four innings vs. the Diamondbacks; and last time out, he gave up two runs on four hits and three walks in three innings vs. the Braves.
So for the season Sanchez has allowed 26 baserunners (hits + walks), and 14 of them have scored.
Last year Sanchez, as a member of the Royals, started once against St. Louis and gave up six runs on four hits and six walks in 5 2/3 innings of a game KC eventually lost 11-8.
Sanchez had better get his act together, or he'll soon find himself looking for another job, again.
As for the bullpens, Pittsburgh relievers have combined for a 1.91 ERA this season, second-best in the Majors, while Cardinals relievers own a 5.20 ERA, second-worst in baseball.
Pirates-Cardinals Recent History
These two teams split two games in Pittsburgh a week and a half ago.
Last year Pittsburgh took the season series from St. Louis eight games to seven, with the OVER/UNDERS going 8-6-1.
Free MLB Pick for Friday
With Lynn's track record against Pittsburgh we'd be very tempted to take the Pirates and the underdog price Friday. Unfortunately, we have zero faith in Sanchez giving us even five good innings.
So instead, we'll look toward the total on Friday's game, and add the OVER to our list of free sports picks.
Free MLB Pick: Take the OVER 8.5 runs (-108) offered at Pinnacle.Check back at this page for updates and more free picks as this series plays out.