Any series with the powerful St. Louis Cardinals brings up images of one player in our eyes. As Joe Sports Fan, that’s the enemy site for the series by the way, pointed out Pujols is so big he has in own logo now. A logo that backs Albert’s paltry .154 average and his four GIDP.
Any Pirates baseball preview doesn’t seem right without the hottest song in Pittsburgh. Give it a play. Loudly. Again.
One big thumper will not be in the lineup for the Cardinals, Matt Holliday. The Cards outfielder underwent an appendectomy surgery and it doesn’t seem like anyone in the Cards organization is talking about a specific return date for the slugger.
Holliday absolutely destroys Pirates pitching so while he heals, consider yourself lucky.
Clint Hurdle is still wondering if Holliday touched it [1:30 mark]
Expected Pitching Matchups:
RHP Charlie Morton 2-12, 7.57ERA-2010
Morton had a 2.63 ERA in six spring training games in 24 innings giving up 15 hits, eight runs, seven earned runs, six walks, and 12 strikeouts.
Against the Cardinals he has made five career appearances going 22 innings and giving up 19 earned runs. In 2010, Morton was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA. He gave up two runs in six innings on September 22 over Kyle Lohse at PNC Park. He received a no-decision in a 6-4 Pirates loss on September 27 when he allowed four earned runs in six innings.
RHP Kyle Lohse 4-8, 6.55 ERA
Lohse was a mess last season. Maybe it was his injury, but the Pirates hit to the tune of .371 against him. He pitched well this spring, so just what happens today will be interesting, but we give the edge to the Bucs in the opener. Call it a hunch.
In August, Lohse went 5.1 innings and the Bucs got six hits and two runs. The Cards staked the right hander to a 4-0 lead as they put up a four spot on Ohlendorf. Pirates legend Garrett Jones chased Lohse in the sixth inning of that game.
In a repeat of the pitching matchup today, the Bucs jumped all over Lohse last September. The Pirates chased him after three innnings. John Bowker homered, Jose Tabata had a triple. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Pedro Alvarez all had doubles against the 1996 29th round pick.
A healthy Lohse will be very important for the Cardinals this season as he has pitched well against the Bucs in his career, but again a lot of those players he had success against are not in black and yellow any longer.
Maybe his new tat will help:
RHP James McDonald 4-6, 4.02ERA
It bothers us that he will be starting, but screw it. The Pirates people know more than me. The 2002 11th rounder struckout seven Cardinals in the only appearance against the birds. He allowed just five hits and one run- a solo homer to Allen Craig. McDonald took the loss. Box
RHP Kyle McClellan 1-4, 2.27 ERA
The 2002 25th round selection by St.Louis, Kyle McClellan was used in relief last season by the Cards. He was damn effective against the Pirates as well as most teams in the league. He led the Cards bullpen in numerous categories.
In September he threw on three seperate occassions for a total of three innings and allowed no hits. An inning in July saw him get two strikeouts and again allow no hits. Two seperate appearances in May again yielded no hits for the Bucs over two innings.
How well McClellan returns to a starter’s role could be the tipping point for the Cardinals. He was able to beat out RumBunter favorite Ian Snell for the fifth spot. It’s hard to see the Bucs having much success against him, but there is one flaw based on past performances against the Pirates young guns.
Plate patience will be the key as McClellan is known to walk a few batters and if the Pirates continue to show good plate awareness they will have a solid shot in taking this series.
RHP Kevin Correia 1-0, 3.00ERA
Correia deserved a little better fielding behind him in the Pirates season opener, but still got the Bucs a win with some solid pitching.
In 2010, Correia was shaky against the Cardinals. In September he pitched 1.2 innings gave up a hit, a walk and got a strikeout. In his lone start against the Cardinals, he threw six scoreless innings. He allowed five hits, walked six and struck out five. Box
Damn that’s a lot of free passes. That will not work against Carpenter.
RHP Chris Carpenter 0-0, 2.57ERA
Carpenter had a strong outing in the opener when he allowed just two hits, two earned runs and tallied four strikeouts over seven innings. The last time he faced the Bucs he went eight innings, gave up five hits (Tabata, Walker, Jones with Milledge getting the other two,) struckout six and walked three in a 1-0 Cardinals win.
In May, the right hander went seven innings, gave up eight hits (Cutch had three, and Milledge got two more) and the Cardinals won 4-3.
Carpenter is mentioned by several Pirates as one of the toughest pitchers they face over an entire season. When we add up his work from last season Carpenter has pitched 15 innings against the Bucs in 2010, struckout fourteen and walked just three. Hell, that’s nothing…Garza struckout 12 yesterday and you see what that got him. Ahem.
Good luck Buccos.
The Pirates hitters have some work to do if they plan on taking another series. Some players to keep an eye on:
Pedro Alvarez owns Lohse.
Believe it when we tell you: Ryan Doumit hits well against all of these Cardinals pitchers. He also has historically hit very well in the early parts of seasons throughout his careeer.
The combination of Jose Tabata and Neil Walker also have put up nice numbers on the whole versus these Cardinals starters.
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