Major League Baseball on Thursday night and I will have a Free Pick in the game between the St Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, which will be played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. First pitch is scheduled for a 7:05 PM (Eastern) start time and the game will be televised locally.
St Louis -111
Over/ Under: 7 U -110
This is game 1 of a 4 game series between these National League Central foes. This is a huge series for both teams as they fight for the AL Central title. The Cards got swept in DH by Chicago on Tuesday, but they did get an improbable win last night when Peralta hit a 2-Run homer in the top of the ninth to secure the win. The Cards now have a 4.5 games over the surging pirates, who have won 8 of their last 9 games and are 16 games over .500. The Cards are 24-19 on the road this year, while Pittsburgh has gone 29-15 at home.
The Cardinals rank 19th in scoring (3.99 rpg), 8th in hitting (.259) and 25th in homers (65), while on the mound they are 1st in ERA (2.65) and 6th in WHIP (1.20). Pittsburgh ranks 17th in scoring (4.02 rpg), 11th in hitting (.256) and 26th in homers (63), while on the mound they are 2nd in ERA (2.86) and 5th in WHIP (1.20).
Getting the ball for Cardinals tonight will be Carlos Martinez, who is 9-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 17 games (16 Starts) this year, while on the road he has gone 5-2 with a 2.73 ERA. Carlos has faced the Pirates 11 times in his career, but just twice as a starter and he is 0-1 with an 8.74 ERA in those starts. Earlier this year he allowed 7 Rs in just 5.1 innings of work in a 7-5 loss at Pittsburgh.
Toeing the rubber for the Pirates tonight will be Jeff Locke, who is 5-4 with a 4.16 ERA in 16 starts this year, while at home he has gone 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA. Jeff is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 6 career starts vs the Cardinals.
Pick: I will be going with the Under here. Carlos Martinez has been excellent for the cards this year and he has a very nice 2.73 ERA on the road. Jeff Locks has a 4.16 ERA overall, but at home he has a 2.64 ERA. Martinez has a 2.29 ERA in his last 3 starts, with those games averaging just 5 rpg, while Jeff Locke has a 1.55 ERA in his last 5 starts, with those games averaging just 4.6 rpg. The Cards offense has struggled a lot of late and we all know they can't hit lefties all that well and that shows in the fact that they have hit just .178 vs southpaws in their last 10 games. The Pirates have hit righties very well of late, but none of them were named Carlos Martinez. He will not get hit around in this one like he was back in early may by the Pirates. that was his worst start of the year and you can bet he wants redemption for it. The Under is 9-1-2 in Martinez's last 12 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance and 5-1 in the Pirates last 6 home games. I see this as a pitcher's duel in the Steel City tonight.
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