After an 11-5 victory over San Diego last night, the Pittsburgh Pirates are on fire, winning 7 straight games. Can they extend their winning streak? Find out what I think with my MLB pick.
Joe C. Record: 26-6 +19.12 Units
First pitch is set for 10:10 p.m. ET tonight at Petco Park in San Diego, California. We have a spectacular matchup as the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have won 7 straight games, face the San Diego Padres behind the pitching of James "Big Game" Shields (6-0, 3.75). This ought to be a grudge match as some MLB odds list the Padres as a slight -106 betting favorite and the total for the game is a mere 6 runs.
Pirates manager, Clint Hurdle seems to be impressed by his offense as they pounded out 11 runs on 15 hits to defeat the Padres on Thursday in an 11-5 victory. It was Pittsburgh's 7th consecutive victory and the Bucs are steadily creeping up on the Chicago Cubs in the divisional race as the National League Central Division always comes down to the Pirates and Cardinals.
In Pittsburgh's last 6 games, they've averaged 7 runs per contest and that would be a best case scenario in this game as they face James Shields, who is undefeated on the season at 6-0.
Although offense has been mentioned by Clint Hurdle, this game could come down to the pitching. You have James Shields, with the help of some run support, hasn't had a loss in a Padres uniform and Francisco Liriano who has a near equal ERA, but is 2-4 on the season. Liriano is one of those type of pitchers that can shut out a team or be out of the game in the 2nd inning, allowing 7 or 8 runs during a poor showing.
In Liriano's last outing, he picked up a much needed "W", allowing 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 12 batters in a victory over the Mets. Liriano has held opposing hitters to a mere .194 batting average and has struck out 64 batters in 53 2/3 innings. If the Pirates offense can give him any type of run support, I feel that it will be light's out for the Pads at home, even with James Shields taking the mound.
Jung Ho Kang
The Pirates are coming off of a game in which their main offensive threats in Josh Harrison, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte all had big games and this is a very deep offensive team that has finally started to hit the way that they have in previous years, The Pirates have a new stud in the 5 hole and his name is Jung Ho Kang.
Kang didn't play until the very end of April and has made an immediate impact. He's currently riding a 10 game hitting streak and is coming off of a game in which went yard and knocked in 3 runs. For the season, Kang is hitting .308 with 3 HR and 17 RBI. He also possesses a .371 OBP%. This is a great addition to a team that's fairly loaded.
Let's remember that Harrison was Pittsburgh's best player last year. He got off to a slow start this season, but has been beasting as of late. Harrison has hit safely in 9 out of his last 10 games and in that period of time, has increased his batting average from .230 to .266. In these 10 games,
Harrison is 16 for 42 with 7 runs, 5 doubles, and 7 runs batted during the 10 game stretch. This is a player that will be near the .300 mark at the end of the season and is one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. With Andrew McCutchen starting to hit, the Pirates just need Pedro Alvarez to get on track and they will be contending for the division title.
The odds are placed right where they should be. Pittsburgh is the better team, but on the road and facing a pitcher who hasn't lost this season despite his ERA. I like the Pirates to keep the momentum going. They've been hitting the ball well and Liriano is a lot better than his record indicates. Make the Pirates your MLB pick.
MLB Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates -104 at 5Dimes