The Pittsburgh Pirates gained a half a game on the St. Louis Cardinals last night with a thrilling 10-7 win over Kansas City. Travis Ishikawa came into the game hitting .077, but helped the Pirates by going 3-for-5 with a homer and 4 RBI. As a team the Pirates banged out 17 hits and still managed to leave 24 men on base. Every time the Royals got close, the Pirates would score and eventually hold them off. Six of the Pirates 9 hitters had at least 2 hits. Pittsburgh snapped a 3-game losing streak in the process as they were swept in Milwaukee over the weekend.
All-Star Gerrit Cole makes his 19th start this year. He’s 13-3 with a sparkling 2.30 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He’s won 8 of his last 9 decisions and the Pirates are 14-4 when he starts. Away from home he’s 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA and has only allowed 2 home runs in 59 road innings. He’ll look to keep the Pirates rolling tonight.
Despite last night’s loss, the Royals still own a comfortable 5.5 game lead over the Twins in the American League Central, and they still have the 2nd best record in the Majors behind St. Louis. They are 11-6 in the month of July and look like the team to beat in the Central. The bullpen is still the strongest part of the team. They have an ERA of 2.16, while the starters are 4.26. Maybe they can trade for a pitcher before the July 31st deadline. They don’t hit many home runs, but they do rank 2nd in team batting average at a nice .275
Jason Vargas will make his first start since June 8th when he went on the disabled list. He’s had a pretty decent season. In his 8 starts he’s allowed 2 or less runs in six of those. The only two he didn’t, the Twins got him good. Overall he is 5-2 with a 4.10 ERA. He’ll need to help out the struggling Royals rotation with a good outing tonight. This will be his first start against the Pirates since his rookie season in 2006.
This series could be a World Series preview. Anytime you can get Gerrit Cole at -115, you take it. I never like pitchers coming off the DL either. That combination equals a Pirates victory tonight.
Pick: Pirates -115