Game 135: The Time is Now

The Pirates begin a three-game series this afternoon at 4:05 against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they’re chasing in the wildcard race.

The Bucs are coming off a six-game losing streak and 3.5 games out of the wildcard and can’t afford to lose a series to the Cardinals. Despite the losing streak and the 67-67 record, the Pirates still have a chance to take care of their business and get back into the race, but the time is now to go on a run.

Adam Wainwright will make his 28th start of the season and while he’s been healthy this season, he’s been anything but great. The 35-year-old righthander owns a 4.53 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 163 innings this season. He’s made three starts against the Pirates this season with all three of them being quality starts. The Pirates offense was shut out twice this weekend against the Brewers so they’ll need to wake up against Wainwright and the Cardinals if the Pirates are to succeed.

Chad Kuhl will make his 10th start of his career today for Pittsburgh and hoping to continue his recent stretch of effective pitching. Kuhl has a 3.70 ERA on the season, but since July 17 he’s owned a 2.80 ERA in six starts and has done a great job of keeping the Pirates in the game. It just remains to be seen if the Pirates offense can muster any runs to give Kuhl a shot at a victory. The Pirates are 7-2 in games where Kuhl starts.

The Pirates have found success against the Cardinals this season, going 8-5 in games against the red birds. They opened the season at home by sweeping the Cardinals to start the season 3-0. They won two-of-three from the Cardinals in St. Louis in early May, but were swept at PNC Park in early June to the Cardinals. Then in their last series in early July, the Pirates took three-out-of-four in St. Louis.

If you’re wondering what to expect from Pirates/Cardinals games, if the last five years is any indication it’s probably a close, one-run, nail-biting game that will come down to the last pitch. In the last five seasons, these teams have played 24 one-run games against each other and the Pirates record against the Cards in those seasons is 43-42. It’s actually 45-45 if you add in the NLDS from 2013. This recent rivalry has been about as close as two teams could possibly get.

The lineup for today is the same one Hurdle seems to love running out there. Josh “Never Take a Pitch” Harrison leads off, Josh Bell sits for the second straight day for some reason and Francisco Cervelli is wasted in the 7th spot again instead of batting him leadoff or second with his .376 OBP.

Pirates North Shore Nine
Harrison 2B
Jaso 1B
McCutchen CF
Polanco RF
Marte LF
Freese 3B
Cervelli C
Mercer SS
Kuhl P

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