Mar 19, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first basemanMatt Adams
(32) connects for a solo home run during a game against the Minnesota Twins at Roger Dean Stadium. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Cardinals (2-1) at Pirates (2-1)
4/4, 4/5, 4/6 – PNC Park
At the plate there are no two Cardinals who were more important to the series win in Cincinnati. Adams defied the Reds shift by going 5 for 12, with four of those hits going to left field. Three of his hits were doubles which has him heading to Pittsburgh with a gaudy .667 Slugging Percentage. Wong had his ups and downs in The Queen City, but a .500 On Base Percentage is one heck of an upside in a series.
On the mound in Cincy Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha were great, but Trevor Rosenthal was invaluable as a closer. In two appearances he slammed the door on the Reds, both of them one-run affairs. With a three-out save and a four-out save against the Reds best hitters Rosenthal played as big a role as anyone over the last three games.
Like the Cardinals against the Reds, the Pirates played three one-run games against the Cubs. Second baseman Neil Walker only managed to get on base 4 times in 14 plate appearances, but he did score three of those times, the only Pirate to score more than once in the three-game set with Chicago.
Francisco Liriano pitches 6 scoreless innings in his 2014 debut against the Cubs. In those 6 innings he struck out 10 batters. He gave up 4 hits and 3 walks, but kept the Cubbies were unable to capitalize on any baserunners.
A number of the Cardinals got off to slow starts to 2014. The coldest, however, was probably Jhonny Peralta. Peralta went 1-11 in Cincinnati. Fortunately for the Redbird the one high was a 2-run dinger that played a very important role in a win.
In the first game of the season, in a 1-run game, Pat Neshek walked the only batter he faced. Fortunately, the Cardinals overcame that walk. In his second appearance he surrendered a 3-run home run and then walked speedster Billy Hamilton while the Cards were clinging to a 1-run lead. The season has gotten off to an inauspicious beginning for the veteran reliever.
Pedro Alvarez batted more against the Chicago Cubs than any other Pirate. He also had the least amount of success getting just one hit in fifteen at-bats.
Closer Jason Grilli pitched two innings against the Cubs. Over the course of those two innings he gave up three hits and walked one batter. Opponents are currently batting .375 against him in his short two-inning season thus far.
Five Predictions, A Couple Of Which Are Even Serious
1. Last year Liriano went 3-0, with a 0.75 ERA against the Cardinals. St. Louis will experience more success against Liriano in this series they did last year. It would be hard to do worse.
2. At some point during this series a national baseball writer will interrupt the series to run out on the field to give Andrew McCutchen a dozen roses.
3. Adam Wainwright will win the game he starts, but he will not be nearly as demonstrative as he was last time he beat Pittsburgh.
4. We will all remember why Edinson Volquez is on his fourth team in four years.
5. The Cardinals will win the series, two games to one.