The St. Louis Cardinals finished April with a 14-8 record. They would be happy to duplicate those efforts in May. They’ll begin that quest today with a three-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates were among the Cardinals series victims in April. The Cards beat the Bucs in two out of three at PNC Park. They won the first game behind Lance Lynn, 4-1. They were shutout by A.J. Burnett and the Pirates bullpen 2-0 in the middle game of the series. In the rubber match, the Cardinals received a fine performance from Kyle Lohse in a 5-1 victory.
This time up the Cardinals send out Adam Wainwright in the series opener against Charlie Morton. Tomorrow, Lynn faces off against Burnett. On Thursday, Jake Westbrook meets Erik Bedard in the series finale.
Here are some of the statistical leaders for the Pirates as they head into the series.
- AVG – Andrew McCutchen (.302)
- R – McCutchen (12)
- HR – Pedro Alvarez (5)
- RBI – Alvarez (9)
- SB – McCutchen (5)
- Wins – Multiple players with 1
- ERA – Kevin Correia (2.42, among qualifiers)
- WHIP – Correia (1.03, among qualifiers)
- K – Bedard (26)
- Saves – Joel Hanrahan (4)
The Pirates are coming off a split of a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves and have an overall record of 10-12.
Wainwright and Morton each look to build on their last starts.
CRAIG SEEMS READY
Allen Craig, playing in his second game in the field for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, went ballistic at the plate. In four appearances he homered twice and singled. He drove in all five Memphis runs in a 5-4 victory over Omaha. Manager Mike Matheny had mentioned on Sunday that Craig could return to the majors as soon as today. With that performance there is little for Craig to prove with his bat. The question is how he’ll hold up playing the field. Matheny suggested that because Matt Carpenter has been playing first base Craig will not have to play everyday once he gets called back up.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals are playing in their eighth straight series against a NL Central opponent. They’ll actually play one more NL Central team, the Houston Astros after the Pirates’ series. They may very well welcome the trip to Arizona to meet the Diamondbacks just to be able to face off against a team outside the division. That is something they have not done since opening night when they played the Miami Marlins.
The stretch of 27 games seems a bit much to me. None of the other NL Central teams had to deal with anything remotely close to this. The only NL Central team the Pirates will have faced at the end of this series is the Cardinals. How is this possible?
Major League Baseball needs to find some new computer algorithms to generate the schedule. I’m not going to even get into how it is unbalanced during the course of a full season. But to approve a schedule where one team plays 27 straight games against divisional opponents, while the others do not, seems a little unfair.
Of course, the Cardinals have not suffered for it, but this really isn’t the point. Teams should be on equal footing throughout the season. It may be impossible to determine a method for divisional teams to play the same opponents in close proximity on the schedule, but it wouldn’t have been hard to throw in a series or two to split up what the Cardinals are dealing with right now.
Division matchups are always tough because they carry more weight and the teams know this and play as such. This does mean that the Cardinals will have fewer series against the NL Central as the season wears on, so in the end it may not matter in the standings. But, there is no denying that the Cardinals drew the short end of the stick with the schedule to start the season. My guess is they’ll welcome a break from the NL Central grind next week.
Tags: A.J. Burnett Adam Wainwright Allen Craig Andrew McCutchen Cardinals Charlie Morton Daniel Descalso Erik Bedard Houston Astros Joel Hanrahan Kevin Correia Kyle Lohse Lance Lynn Matt Carpenter Mike Matheny MLB Schedule NL Central Pedro Alvarez Pittsburgh Pirates Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals