Four times this year, the Pirates have won the first game of a series against a division foe, only to drop the remaining two or three games remaining in the series. Since most of those series happened when the Pirates were struggling, the first win was encouraging and the subsequent losses were deflating. The Pirates have a chance to flip the tables against the Cardinals now after last night’s tough-to-swallow loss to the Cardinals in a game they very much should have won.
There is a small bit of pre-game news tonight: Francisco Liriano will make a start against the Reds this weekend after his excellent rehab start with Indianapolis last night. That means that Brandon Cumpton will likely head down to the minors after his start tomorrow night, no matter how well it goes, though I suppose things could change between now and then. The reports about Liriano last night were good and once he went on the DL with his oblique injury he mentioned he’d been dealing with a few other injuries that kept him from being 100%, so I’ll be cautiously optimistic here.
Tonight Vance Worley will take the mound against Carlos Martinez. Worley’s last start against Arizona looked really solid early on (he was perfect through four and had a no-hitter through five), but he hit a rough patch in the sixth and then Ernesto Frieri happened and the Pirates’ lost the game 10-2. Worley makes me nervous on the mound in general, but the Cardinals have been struggling of late and so hopefully his hot streak will continue a bit longer. Martinez is yet another young, fireballing Cardinal pitching prospect (he entered this year in most people’s top 50 prospects), though he’s only been starting this year since Michael Wacha went on the disabled list. He’s struggled with his control a bit since moving to the rotation, and this Pirate team has been exceptionally patient at the plate recently, so it seems to me that their best path forward is to do what they tried to do to Wainwright last night: draw walks and drive his pitch count up early. Hopefully, the big hit that was missing last night won’t be absent again.
Gregory Polanco is back in the starting lineup and hitting leadoff, despite his recent struggles. First pitch tonight is at 8:15.