The Cards are sub-.500 on the road this year (33-35) but the Pirates have lost nine more games than they’ve won at PNC.
Two teams with two different outlooks, the Cardinals are a near certainty to play into October. Both have posted winning records through the last ten games; St Louis is 7-3 and Pittsburgh is 6-4.
After ‘rocking’ the Rockies during the four-game series in Colorado, the Bucs struggled with the statistically-inferior Marlins at PNC this first week of September. Rebounding with a strong showing against the National League Central-leading Cardinals could get the team on track for a strong finish to what has become a pretty disappointing season.
Tonight, St. Louis sends Miles Mikolas to the hill for the sixth time this season against Pittsburgh and is 2-1 with two no decisions against the Bucs. In his last outing against Pittsburgh (at home) last month, he allowed five earned runs (six total with two HRs) on seven hits and one walk (five Ks) through five innings. Mikolas has allowed at least two earned runs in all but one start against Pittsburgh, a nine-inning shutout (eight hits, three strikeouts, no walks) at Busch Stadium in mid-July.
The Pirates will counter with spot-starter Alex McRae, who takes over for Joe Musgrove (sore foot). It will be the first start for McRae since July 29th, which was also his last appearance for Pittsburgh. It wasn’t pretty; he allowed five earned runs (seven total) off six hits and two walks (no Ks) in just 1.1 innings pitched. McRae faced the Cardinals a few days before that, yielding no hits (two walks) or runs surrendered to the six batters he faced.
Several Pirates hitters have been highly productive offensively, posting at least a 160 wRC+. Leading the way is Kevin Newman and Adam Frazier, with wOBAs of .529 and .474 respectively. Both are hitting over .400— Newman through his last 29 plate appearances and Frazier through his last 41.
The power has returned for the Bucs during the last ten games as well, with five hitters turning in at least two HR— three from Newman, Josh Bell, and Bryan Reynolds and two for Frazier and Jose Osuna.
Speaking of Osuna, outside of his power (.226 ISO), he’s been struggling though the last eight games as evidenced by .129 batting average.
The Cardinals have been lead offensively by Kolten Wong (246 wRC+) and Yadier Molina (255 wRC+) during the last ten days. Molina in particular has been on a tear, hitting three home runs with six RBIs. His K-rate is an impressive 3.1% and is complimented with a .400 BABIP.
Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna hasn’t been showing much with his bat lately with nearly 30% of plate appearances resulting in strikeouts driving his batting average down to .114 over his last 36 plate appearances.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 EST on ATT SportsNet—PIT
1 S Dexter Fowler, RF
2 L Kolten Wong, 2B
3 R Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4 R Marcell Ozuna, LF
5 R Paul DeJong, SS
6 R Yadier Molina, C
7 S Tommy Edman, 3B
8 R Harrison Bader, CF
9 R Miles Mikolas, RHP
1 R Kevin Newman, SS
2 S Bryan Reynolds, LF
3 R Starling Marte, CF
4 S Josh Bell, 1B
5 L Colin Moran, 3B
6 R Jose Osuna, RF
7 L Adam Frazier, 2B
8 R Jacob Stallings, C
9 R Alex McRae, RHP