Game 31: Happy Mother’s Day!

First, the North Shore Nine would like to give a special thanks to our mothers, Ginnie and Terry, and the rest of the mothers out there celebrating this special day. We both thank you for everything that you have done and especially all that you put up with, so today is your special day to be recognized!

Second, we have a baseball game today! The St. Louis Cardinals will host your Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium for today’s rubber match. Both teams have struggled to find wins  of late, so this series victory will be a big step towards correcting that. The Pirates hold the advantage this year as they have won four out of the five games played between the two clubs this year. With the series on the line, each team will feature their true Ace in this matchup.

Gerrit Cole will be taking the mound today. He brings a 3.95 ERA and is coming off of the worst start of the season. As we all know, he shook all of that off while heckling the Capitals during the Pens game.  He will come in determined as always to continue his run of dominance against the Red Birds. For his career, Cole is 4-3 and boasts a 2.91 ERA verse the Cards in 52.2 innings. His season has been disappointing to his standards, but it was slowed due to an oblique injury. His velocity has been down just a half tick this season, but that is typically expected this early in the season for power pitchers as well. In other words, there isn’t much to worry about with Cole. His FIP and xFIP are closer to his career numbers than they are to his ERA this year, so its easy to see him getting back on track.

Pittsburgh will be facing Michael Wacha. This young pitcher has taken control of this rotation and appears to be taking the reigns from Adam Wainwright as this team’s Ace. At just 24 years old, he owns a 28-16 record with a 3.16 ERA in 390 innings. Good news for Bucco fans, he has not pitched as well against them. In 41 innings, he holds a 3.73 ERA as they’ve hit .270 against him. With the way Pittsburgh has been hitting everybody this year, there is a good chance to see that trend continue. Wacha throws four pitches that are above average. Only 10 others pitchers in the majors can claim this. He features a four-seamer that will sit around 93 MPH, but also throws in a cutter, curve, and change up.

The Pirates will bring their offense which leads in hits and is second in batting average and  on base percentage. Leading the way this year has been Starling Marte. Though his plate discipline will always make Pirate fans cringe, he ranks third in the NL for hits with 39. He enters the game with a .325 batting average. Marte has been a player the NSN have been predicting to break out in a big way this year, and he is proving that to be the case. The average doesn’t look like its completely sustainable, as his BABIP this year is currently a .400, but it wouldn’t appear that there is a big drop off coming. Marte has always been a hitter with a high BABIP. Everything that you would want out of a hitter has either increased or decreased this season. His isolated power, contact rate, hard hit rate, line drive %, and hits to opposite field % have increased, while his ground ball %, pull %, and his strikeout rate have all decreased.

With the Pirates being cautious with Jung Ho Kang, Hurdle will sit him today in favor for David Freese. Today marks his first start as a Pirate for his return to Busch Stadium. He will play third and bat fifth in the lineup. Yesterday, he received a standing ovation from the home crowd when he pinch hit. It was a very special moment as they have their respect and praise for not only that memorable playoff run he had, but a well respected stint he had with the club. Freese has been a pleasant addition to the Pirates club, as he is batting .288 with an .757 OPS while starting virtually every game up until this series. His bat and especially his defense has been a big part to the Bucco’s success this season. Now regulated to a reserve role, he makes this bench and team flexibility that much stronger.

Today’s Lineup:

  1. Jaso 1B
  2. McCutchen CF
  3. Polanco RF
  4. Marte LF
  5. Freese 3B
  6. Harrison 2B
  7. Mercer SS
  8. Stewart C
  9. Cole P

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