The St. Louis Cardinals have their brooms standing by and ready to sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates out of town Thursday night as small favorites on the baseball betting board.
There's no chance for the Pittsburgh Pirates to gain ground on St. Louis in the NL Central race this series after the Cardinals won another one Wednesday evening. Now the Pirates can only hope to leave St. Louis without being swept.
The clubs conclude the set with a 7:15 PM (ET) first pitch tonight, the game starting an hour earlier than the previous two games, and the Cardinals are slight favorites with BetOnline listing them at -115 on the moneyline. The matchup on the mound has Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano facing Lance Lynn, the MLB odds showing a 6½ run total that favors the 'over' and could rise to 7 by game time.
Bucs On 7-Game Ride In Liriano's Starts
Liriano is coming off his worst start in about seven weeks, but the end result was a win for the Pirates last Saturday, their 7th-straight with the southpaw chucking. The Dodgers touched him up for four runs and seven hits in the first three innings before Pittsburgh's bullpen went the rest of the way in the 6-5 decision.
One of the 7-straight wins came at St. Louis' expense, Liriano pitching into the seventh and allowing just two runs at home just before the all-star break. He no-decisioned in the 6-5 Pittsburgh victory after falling to the Redbirds back in May (6.1 IP, 5 ER), that game also played at PNC Park. This is his third start in St. Louis since joining the Pirates, the Bucs splitting the previous two (11 IP, 1 ER).
Lynn has 14 of the 77 quality starts run up by the St. Louis rotation this season, and the Cards are 13-8 overall behind their righthander. He tossed six shutout frames last Friday in Milwaukee to help Mike Matheny's bunch to their fourth win the last five times Lynn has been called upon, and has split his two assignments vs. the Pirates. Lynn was banged around at Pittsburgh in July, but tossed a dandy at home on May 1 with a season-high 10 K's, a game the Cardinals eventually won in 10 innings, 2-1. He's definitely happy to see both Jordy Mercer (7-15) and Josh Harrison (7-19, HR) out of the Pirates lineup nursing injuries.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Larry Vanover, who is expected to call balls and strikes in this one, has two pretty solid baseball betting trends working in 2015. The Kentucky native has been a friend to bettors playing home chalk so far, recording a 10-5 mark in that column with the highest moneyline a couple of -155's. Vanover has also leaned 'under' the totals with a 7-12-1 O/U/P record. One of the -155 moneyline winner was May 17 in this park with Lynn toiling for the Cardinals, leaving St. Louis 6-4 in his last 10 plate assignments at Busch Stadium.
Muggy and the low-80s and not enough breeze to speak of is the forecast for the start of this one. I'm playing the Redbirds as small home chalk for my free MLB pick.
My MLB Pick: Cardinals -115 at BetOnline