You don’t have much time to play .500 ball when you share a division with the St. Louis Cardinals, at least not so far this year.
While the Pirates were considered to be one of St. Louis’ main challengers for the crown, the Reds didn’t have as many supporters in the form of humans or computers. Yet both teams entered their head to head series at 12-13, which left each seven back of St. Louis here in early May. A hot start for the Birds has a lot to do with it. The Reds took game one on Tuesday and neither club hopes to fall further behind than it already is. For one of them, it starts with getting a win on Wednesday.
The Pirates will be glad to get out of St. Louis and come home after losing three straight one-run games over the weekend to those very Cardinals. As has been typical in the last couple years between those two, each game was low scoring and close, with the Bucs mustering just four runs in the three games. It certainly can’t get much tougher coming home against Cincinnati, but it might not be a whole lot easier either. Pittsburgh gets Mike Leake on Wednesday, a familiar face whom the Pirates saw in the first week of the season at Great American Ballpark. Pittsburgh got to Leake for three runs in that one and the Pirates will look to do anything they can to get a few across in this one. Leake isn’t easy to run, nor bunt against, but the Pirates are a supremely athletic team that has struggled to score runs lately. Expect something against the grain from them coming back home.
It’s been a while since Pittsburgh’s last win, otherwise known as the last time Gerrit Cole got the ball. The former No. 1 overall pick has continued to improve and has put together a fine start through five outings this season – an ERA just over 3.00 and a 0.90 WHIP. This is a spot I love to back Cole because of the reputation he’s developing as a stopper, as a youngster no less. The Pirates have won his last four starts and you get the feeling that he expects to win every one going forward. He’ll want this one a little extra.
It’s unorthodox to lay a run in a spot that calls for a low scoring game, but I like Pittsburgh because of Cole and their familiarity with Leake. It’ll be nice to come home and I think the Pirates win by a few with a couple of late runs against the Reds’ ‘pen.
Free Pick: Pittsburgh -1 -102
YTD: 2-0 +2.00
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02