Last night the Pittsburgh Pirates moved to within 3.5 games of the Cardinals in the N.L. Central with a dramatic 6-5 victory in 14 innings. The Pirates came back three times from deficits and capped it off with a walk-off 2-run homer from Andrew McCutchen. That sets the stage for the finale tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Pittsburgh tries to win 3 out of 4 while the Cardinals are trying to salvage a split. The Pirates have now won 8 of their last 10 games overall and are a legitimate threat the win the Central if they keep this up.
Lefty Francisco Liriano makes his 18th start tonight and has had a solid year. Overall he’s only 5-6, but his ERA is 2.99 and he ranks 6th in the National League with 119 strikeouts. In his last 3 starts he’s only allowed 4 runs in 20 innings. He was brilliant in his only start this year against the Cardinals. He pitched 8 innings of 1 run ball allowing only 3 hits. He took the loss due to lack of run support.
The Cardinals are still the kings of the National League Central and they’re not going to worry about losing 2 in a row to Pittsburgh. They still have the best team ERA in Baseball and once they get healthy they’ll prove to everyone that they’re still the team to beat. Matt Holliday should be back after the All-Star Break as should Jamie Garcia.
Tim Cooney makes only his 4th start of the year filling in for Garcia. He fared well in his last outing in Wrigley Field holding the Cubs to 1 run in 5.1 innings. Look for the bullpen to get some action tonight as Cooney has yet to throw 90 pitches in a game this year.
The Pirates should feed off their dramatic win last night and get to the young Cooney. The price is a little higher than I’d like, so I’ll go with the run line tonight.
Pick: Pirates -1.5 +140