Found July 29, 2013 on
Nipping at the heels of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates hope they're catching the division leaders at the right time.
The top two teams in the NL open a pivotal five-game, four-day series Monday night at PNC Park.
"I think the Cardinal series has been on a lot of the fans' dockets for some time now,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I anticipate seeing a very faithful Pirate crowd there Monday.''
St. Louis (62-40) holds a 1 1/2-game division lead over Pittsburgh, but was held to three runs while being swept in a three-game set at Atlanta over the weekend. The Cardinals, who lead the NL with 498 runs, a .274 average and won 12 of 15 prior to facing the East-leading Braves, last dropped four in a row Aug. 28-31.
"You never want to go into a place and get swept,'' losing pitcher Shelby Miller said after Sunday's 5-2 defeat. "We were battling the whole time. I don't think we had a terrible series, we just didn't come out on top in any of the games.''
Pittsburgh (61-42), however, lost three of the final four on a 5-5 trip that concluded with two of three losses at lowly Miami. The Pirates have struck out 62 times in five games, including 13 in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Marlins.
Pittsburgh has won three of five against St. Louis this season but the teams have not met since April. They'll play a doubleheader Tuesday to make up an April 16 rainout.
Hurdle will hand the ball to Francisco Liriano (10-4, 2.23 ERA), who allowed two hits and struck out eight over 7 2-3 scoreless innings in Wednesday's 4-2 win at Washington. The left-hander bounced back after he gave up a season-high five runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss at Cincinnati in his previous start.
"He's dotting up the fastball," Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "He can throw the slider, the changeup off the same arm angle, same release spot for those variances of speed. He really controls bat speed well. He stays out of the middle of the plate."
Liriano's only previous appearance against the Cardinals came in 2009 for Minnesota when he allowed two runs in seven innings of a 6-2 victory.
St. Louis counters with Jake Westbrook (7-4, 2.95), who looks for a third straight winning start but is 0-5 with a 7.24 ERA as a starter at PNC Park. However, the right-hander allowed six hits and struck out six in six scoreless innings but the Cardinals blew a 2-0 lead in a 5-3 home loss to the Pirates on April 27.
Westbrook has pitched into the seventh inning in all four July starts, most recently Wednesday when he gave up three runs in an 11-3 rout of Philadelphia.
"I'm a pitcher, that's what I do,'' Westbrook said. "I was able to throw the ball pretty well and give us a chance.''
Pittsburgh All-Star Pedro Alvarez is 12 for 21 with two doubles and two homers against Westbrook. He's batting .296 while hitting safely in seven straight games after going 0 for 17 in his previous four.
St. Louis' Carlos Beltran is 3 for 23 in his last six games, but batting .300 (6 for 20) with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs against the Pirates this season.
Teammate and fellow All-Star Allen Craig has hit .313 with six RBIs in four contests versus Pittsburgh in 2013. However, he's 0 for 13 with six strikeouts in four overall following a nine-game stretch in which he batted .421.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
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It was a 2-4 night for the Baby Birds as the Springfield Cardinals and the Johnson City Cardinals were the only winners. Johnson City won with a walk-off 2-run home run in the bottom of the 12th inning. Memphis, Palm Beach, Peoria, and State College all lost.
Memphis lost 4-3 on Sunday to the Round Rock Express. Jermaine Curtis, Greg Garcia, and Travis Tartamella each had 2 hits...
(via CardinalsFarm.com) The Baby Birds went 5-2 on Monday as Springfield, Peoria, State College, Johnson City, and the GCL Cards all won, while Memphis and Palm Beach were on the losing end.
Here are quick game summaries followed by the player of the game and a link to the box score:
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Jason Grilli spoke to reporters Monday for the first time since injuring his right arm last week and he made a promise the Pirates hope their closer can keep.
“I'm going to be ready before the season is out” Grilli said. “You can mark my word on that.”
Grilli is expected to miss 4-to-8 weeks after straining a flexor muscle in his right forearm last week in Washington...
Nipping at the heels of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates hope they're catching the division leaders at the right time.The top two teams in the NL open a pivotal five-game, four-day series Monday night at PNC Park."I think the Cardinal series has been on a lot of the fans' dockets for some time now," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said...
(via CardinalsFarm.com) The Baby Birds went 2-5 on Saturday as Peoria and State College won, while Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach, Johnson City, and the GCL Cards all lost.
Here are quick game summaries with a link to the box score:
Memphis lost 6-5. The Memphis Redbirds fell to the Round Rock Express 6-5 on Saturday. The Redbirds got 2 hits from Jamie Romak, Luis Mateo, and Chris...
TOP OF THE SYSTEM
A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today. Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. Rankings are from the mid-season rankings, and links on each name go to their Pirates...
The Pirates made a pretty nice move today re-calling Alex Presley from AAA and placing Michael McKenry on the disabled list due to a wonky knee. As I mentioned in my preview Jake Westbrook has struggled big time against lefties. On top of that Starling Marte needs to sit. Most people will **** on Presley because…
The first of five games in this NL Central showdown belonged to the Pirates, winning 9-2 over the St. Louis Cardinals as Pittsburgh now trails by only a half game in the National League Central. St. Louis drops to 62-41 and have lost four straight to start the 11 game road trip, their first four game losing streak of the season. Pittsburgh improved to 20 games over .500 at 62-42...
Houston likes Tyler Glasnow. Making them just like everyone in baseball. (Photo Credit: Tom Bragg)
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Sounds like White Sox and Pirates are getting close on a deal for Alex Rios. Cash being worked on. Not sure if they can find a middle ground
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) July 30, 2013
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Pirates (60-41) at Marlins (39-62)
7:10 PM–Marlins Park, Miami
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Charlie Morton (2-2, 3.35) vs. Tom Koehler (2-5, 4.38...