Saturday, June 22, 2024
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MLB Preview: St. Louis Cardinals (55-72) at Pittsburgh Pirates (57-69)

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS NOTES:

THE KEYSTONE STATE TOUR: The Cardinals continue their road swing thru the Keystone State of Pennsylvania this week with the finale of their three-game series in Pittsburgh this afternoon. After an open date tomorrow, the Cardinals will visit the Philadelphia Phillies for a three game weekend set beginning on Friday. The Cardinals are seeking to snap a 6-game losing skid at PNC Park (0-5 this season) today. They will be facing the Phillies for the 1st time since dropping last season’s Wild Card Series (0-2). It will be the Redbirds first visit to Citizens Bank Park since July 1-3, 2022 – a series that featured a cycle by Nolan Arenado on July 1 and a record four consecutive homers by the Cardinals (Arenado, Gorman, Yepez & Carlson) on July 2.

STEEL CITY BLUES: The Cardinals need a win today to avoid their first-ever winless season series at PNC Park (0-5 to date) and just their 3rd winless season in Pittsburgh. The 1998 Cardinals went 0-4-1 at Three Rivers Stadium and the 1907 Cardinals were 0-11 at Exposition Park III. The Cardinals .222 win pct. (2-7) vs. the Pirates this year is their lowest since 1992 (.167, 3-15) and they have lost the season series to the Buccos for the the first time since 2013 (9-10). St. Louis leads all opposing teams with 111 wins all-time at PNC Park, but have now lost six-straight here dating to last season.

FLIGHT PATTERN: The Cardinals lost for the 6th time in their last 7 games in last night’s 6-3 defeat at PNC Park…St. Louis enters the day in 5th place in the NL Central, a season-low 14.5 games out of first and 11.0 games back in the NL Wild Card chase … the Cardinals are a season-low 17 games under .500 for the 1st time this season…St. Louis has spent 107 of 142 days in last place on the MLB schedule (April 26-May 19, May 29-July 7 & July 28-present) … This season is the Cardinals slowest start since 1995 when they were 55-72 (.433) after 127 games … St. Louis needs to finish 26-9 (.743) over their remaining 35 games to avoid finishing under .500 for the 1st time since 2007 (78-84).

NOT A DAY OVER 35: Miles Mikolas is celebrating his 35th birthday today. Miles shares the same birthdays as the late Kobe Bryant, Julio Franco, former Cardinal Lane Thomas, rocker Rick Springfield and actress Barbara Eden.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS: The Cardinals have employed 49 different players this season, two shy of their season record of 51 players in 2022, 2021 and 1997. Twenty two of their 49 players used this year have been pitchers.

THE MEMPHIS MOB: With the addition of pitcher Jacob Barnes to the active roster yesterday, the Cardinals currently have 10 players on the team with as many, if not more, games played at Memphis (AAA) then they do with St. Louis this season: 1B Luken Baker (84 Memphis games/13 St. Louis games); INF José Fermín (12/12); INF Taylor Motter (56/25); OF Richie Palacios (40/6); INF Masyn Winn (105/5); RHP Jacob Barnes (11/1); RHP Daktoa Hudson (11/11); RHP Casey Lawrence (3/2); LHP Drew Rom (2/1); LHP Andrew Suárez (28/5).

BOTTOM’S UP: This week’s series represents the first time since 1995 (Oct. 1) that the Cardinals (62-80, 4th place) & Pirates (57-86, 5th place) met each other while also sharing company as being either next-to-last or in last place in the Division after August 1. (Elias)

PALACIOS POWER: Not to be out-done by his older brother Joshua who homered on Monday for the Pirates, Richie Palacios cracked his 1st career HR last night, and by doing so, extended his hitting streak to 3 games. OH BROTHER: Cardinals outfielder Richie Palacios is meeting up this series against his older brother Joshua of the Pirates. Earlier this year, the Cardinals Willson Contreras matched up against his younger bother William with Milwaukee. Other Cardinals who have faced their brother in the opposite dugout include Yadier Molina, who played against his brother Jose in 2014. Yadi also had meetings against his brother Bengie as recently as 2010. Cardinals Asst. GM & Director of Scouting Randy Flores and his brother, Ron, played against each other in 2007 while Randy was pitching for St. Louis. (Elias)

CATCHING COMBO: With his career-high 10th HR on Monday, Andrew Knizner has paired with Willson Contreras (13) to give the Cardinals their 1st pair of 10+ HR primary catchers since 2019 when Yadier Molina (10) and Matt Wieters (11) turned the trick. Cardinals catchers rank 3rd in MLB with a .272 batting average (Texas Rangers, .283; Kansas City Royals, .273), 3rd in OPS (.809) and T-4th in HR’s (21). Knizner, who has reached base safely in a career-best 14-straight games, is leading the Cardinals with his .345 (19-55) batting mark since the All-Star break, inlcuding 5 HR’s. Contreras, at .325 (27-83), is 3rd on the team in batting since the break and has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games (.357, 15-42).

KING OF THE HILL: Lefty reliever John King, acquired at the trade deadline from Texas, has posted 6 scoreless appearances in his 7 outings as a member of the Cardinals. King has a 1.17 ERA & .185 opp. BA in his 7.2 IP with 3 Holds, stranding all 3 inhereted runners.

TODAY’S STARTING PITCHER: LHP ZACK THOMPSON (2-5, 3.90)
TODAY’S GAME

  • Second year player and former Cardinals 1st round draft pick (2019, 19th player overall) is making his 3rd start of the 2023 season and the 4th of his young career.
  • Half of his four career starts will have come against the Pirates (also: 6/13/22).
  • Facing the Pirates for the 7th time in his career, his most against any MLB opponent.
  • Has not allowed a run to the Pirates in his two appearances this season and 4-of-6 career appearances. Earned his first win of the 2023 season vs. PIT (4/14/23).
  • In his three career starts, Zack has yet to receive any runs of support.
  • Matched his career-high 5.0 innings in his last start vs. NYM (8/18) in a loss.
  • Made 2nd career start on 8/6 vs. COL and establish a career-high with eight strikeouts.
  • The eight strikeouts were the most by a Cardinals left-hander making his 2nd career start in franchise history.
  • Recalled on 8/1 from Memphis (AAA) – his 3rd stint with the Cardinals this season.
  • Appeared in just four games between St. Louis & Memphis (AAA) in July.
  • Has appeared in 11 games (9 starts) at Memphis & made 16 relief appearances (2 starts) for St. Louis this season, totaling 64.1 IP overall in 2023.
  • Earned his 1st win since 4/14 vs. PIT on 7/19 vs. MIA, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings on 29 pitches.
  • Induced 2 GIDP in 2.0 IP or fewer on 7/19 vs. MIA; 1st Cards pitcher to do so since Luke Weaver on 8/17/17 at PIT.
  • Was 1-4 with a 8.66 ERA at Memphis, striking out 41 batters over 34.1 IP while issuing 39 walks.

LAST TIME OUT

  • Did not receive a run of support for the second straight start. Allowed a lead-off home run to Brandon Nimmo and another run in the 3rd inning. Held his Opposition to two runs or less for the second straight start. Threw a season-high 82 pitches.

DATE vs. RESULT DEC IP H R ER BB SO HR NP-S
8/18 NYM L 7-1 L-5 5.0 6 2 2 1 5 1 82-55

PITTSBURGH PIRATES NOTES:

THE PIRATES:..clinched a series win last night against the Cardinals (had lost each of their previous three series)…Have won two straight and three of their last four games… Have gone 16-15 in their last 31 games since losing each of their first five games following the All-Star break.

ROSTER MOVE: The Pirates have recalled right-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz from the taxi squad/Triple-A Indianapolis…To make room on the 26-man active roster, right-handed pitcher Dauri Moreta has been optioned to Triple-A.

CUTCH CLOSING IN ON 300: Andrew McCutchen has gone deep twice in his last four games and is now just one home run shy of 300 in his career…McCutchen ranks fourth all-time in Pirates history with 215 home runs…His next blast will make him one of 12 active players with at least 300 career home runs.

CHECKING THE BROOM CLOSET: Today the Pirates will go for their sixth sweep of the season and first since June 27-29 against the Padres here at PNC Park…Pittsburgh’s last three-game sweep against the Cardinals at PNC Park took place from April 27-29, 2018…The Pirates have also won five straight games against St. Louis…That’s the longest winning streak for the Bucs against the RedBirds in a single season since taking six straight games in 2013.

ON DECK: The Pirates will continue their homestand tomorrow night when the Cubs come to town to begin a four-game series… The Cubs swept a three-game series at PNC Park in the last series between the two teams from June 19-21…The Pirates were also swept in a three-game series at Wrigley Field from June 13-15.

ABOUT TODAY’S STARTER: Luis Ortiz will start this afternoon in the finale of this series after being promoted back to the big leagues prior to today’s game…This is Ortiz’ first start with the Pirates since July 4 at Dodger Stadium when he allowed six runs in 3.1 innings in a no-decision in Pittsburgh’s last at-bat win.

REYNOLDS ROLLING: Bryan Reynolds recorded the 300th RBI of his career last night with his double in the fifth inning that brought home Alfonso Rivas and Alika Williams (the Pirates are 109-79 in games when Reynolds has an RBI in his career)…Since July 30, Reynolds ranks 13th in all of MLB with a .626 slugging percentage and 15th with a 1.006 OPS.

DELAY MODE: Jason Delay went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored in his last game Saturday night against the Twins at Target Field…Delay has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, going 9-for-25 (.360) with four doubles and five RBI…Delay also comes into today ranked 11th among all backstops in MLB with a 48.5 percent strike rate according to Baseball Savant.

GLOBAL GAME: Prior to today’s game the Pirates will honor three international teams that competed in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania…The Pirates will welcome the Bayamo Little League team from the Cuban region, Hills Little League team from the Australian region and the team representing the South Czech Republic League from the Europe-Africa region.

GO JOE: Connor Joe has reached base safely in each of his last nine games, going 10-for-31 with six doubles, seven walks and a .447 OBP…Joe has also recorded a .397 on-base percentage and .948 OPS in 14 games this month.

YOU’VE GOTT THIS: David Bednar recorded his 49th save as a member of the Pirates Tuesday night, which is tied for 12th all-time along with Rich Loiselle since saves became an official stat in 1969…Bednar’s next save will tie him with Jim Gott, who ranks 11th all-time in Pirates history with 50 saves… Bednar’s 27 saves are the most by a Pirates righthander since Mark Melancon had 30 in 2016…Bednar is tied for fourth among all National League pitchers with 27 saves, while his six saves this month are tied for the second-most in the senior circuit.

STARTING PITCHER – 48 – RHP LUIS ORTIZ
LUIS ORTIZ: The 24-year-old righthander will be making his 12th appearance (11th start) of the season today with the Pirates after being recalled from the taxi squad/Triple-A Indianapolis earlier today…This is his second stint with the Pirates this season (also 5/9 to 7/5)…He earned his first big league win in his start on 5/22 vs. Texas after allowing two runs in 7.2 innings of work.

vs. ST. LOUIS: 0-1 in two career starts…Is 0-0 in one start this year…He allowed one run in 2.0 innings but did not return following a one hour rain delay on 6/3…He also allowed six runs in 0.2 inning and lost a 13-3 decision against Jordan Montgomery on 10/1/22 at Busch Stadium.

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