St. Louis Cardinals: Big Series with Pittsburgh Starts Friday
Already in a 0-3 hole against the Pirates in 2016, the St. Louis Cardinals have another important early season series with Pittsburgh on Friday evening.
After an ugly series with the Nationals that ended in a sweep to close out April and kick off May, the St. Louis Cardinals righted the ship against the upstart Philadelphia Phillies, taking three of four in the series.
Now the Cardinals seem to have some positive momentum going into their first home series with the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates.
The weekend series provides an opportunity for each team to make a statement as the NL Central race begins to take shape.
For the Pirates, a series win or possible sweep would send a pretty clear message that the power swing in the division is fully underway, as the Pirates would have taken at least five of their first six contests with St. Louis.
On the other side, a series win/sweep for our Redbirds would show that 1) we can have success against +.500 ball clubs, and 2) that we aren’t going anywhere, and that the Pirates and Cubs aren’t going to separate themselves quite so easily.
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The Cardinals could do as well as moving to 2.5 games over Pittsburgh for second place in the division, as they currently sit a half-game back of the Buccos.
With a Pirates sweep, the Cardinals could be flirting with a double-digit deficit in the Central race less than a month and a half into the season.
The Cardinals took six of nine a season ago at Busch Stadium III, although they were outscored by the Pirates 36-28.
As I’m sure we all remember, the Cardinals looked bad in Pittsburgh to open the regular season. In being swept, the Cardinals were outscored 15-7 in that series, and struck out 37 times in those three contests.
The Cardinals will send Carlos Martinez to the hill on Friday night, followed by Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha over the weekend.
The Pirates will counter with Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, and Gerrit Cole.
Pittsburgh will come to St. Louis with a 15-13 (8-6 away) overall record. They’ve won 6 of their last 10, although, they enter Friday night on a four-game skid after being swept by the Cubs earlier this week.
Pittsburgh third baseman Jung Ho Kang will rejoin the team in St. Louis on Friday for the first time, after spending better than the past seven months recovering from multiple knee injuries.
David Freese figures to surrender full-time third base duties, serving as Kang’s backup and likely appearing at first base at times for the Pirates as well. Freese is slashing .291/.376/.388 with a home run and 9 RBI in 28 games with the Pirates this year.
The Cardinals enter Friday’s action at 15-14 (8-8 at home) overall. They’ve won five of their last ten, and enter with momentum following taking three of four from a Phillies club that’s played good baseball through the first month of the season.
Matt Adams is considered day-to-day with a left leg contusion after colliding with Darin Ruf in Thursday’s series finale with Philadelphia.
The decision to remove Adams from Thursday afternoon’s game is being called a precautionary measure, and Manager Mike Matheny says that they don’t expect Adams to miss much time, if any moving forward.
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Game one of the series is scheduled for a 7:15 pm CST first pitch. The entire series can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest or heard on KMOX 1120 radio in St. Louis.