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St. Louis Cardinals (14-9 SU, 13-10 RL, 11-11-1 O/U) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (13-11 SU, 13-11 RL, 13-8-3 O/U) vs.
MLB: Friday, April 27, 2018 at 7:05 p.m. EST
The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals will get a three-game series underway when they square off at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Friday night. St. Louis had won four of its last five contests heading into a finale against the Mets on Thursday. The Pirates, on the other hand, had lost four in a row before splitting a double-header against Detroit on Wednesday.
Cards looking good at plate and on mound
Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong had two hits and scored twice during his team’s 9-1 blowout of the Mets on Wednesday to improve to 8-for-20 with two homers and six RBIs during his five-game hitting streak. DeJong went 3-for-8 for with two doubles, one RBI, and three runs scored in the first two contests against New York. That improved the 24-year-old’s hitting streak to five games, during which he has turned in a trio of multi-hit performances. Center fielder Tommy Pham’s availability is in question after he exited Wednesday’s contest with a head injury.
Right-hander Miles Mikolas (3-0, 3.46 ERA) is taking the mound for St. Louis on Friday. Mikolas has not yet allowed more than four runs in any start this season and he has been especially impressive over his last two outings. After pitching 7.0 innings of one-run baseball in a 6-1 victory over Cincinnati on April 14, the 29-year-old faced the Reds again this past Sunday and worked 7.0 more innings while allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and no walks while striking out six batters in a 9-2 win by the Cardinals.
Offense wakes up during double-header
The Pirates were trying to avoid their third straight series loss when they faced Detroit one more time on Thursday. Although the Tigers’ offense stayed hot in a 13-10 win in the opener of Wednesday’s doubleheader, Pittsburgh cooled off Detroit’s lineup in an 8-3 win in the nightcap. The Pirates had scored a total of just five runs during a four-game skid before crossing the plate 18 times in the double-header. Catcher Francisco Cervelli delivered six RBIs in the afternoon contest and has 18 in his last 19 contests. His career high in the RBI department is 43 in 2015.
Steven Brault (2-1, 4.44 ERA) will oppose Mikolas on Friday. The left-hander began the 2018 campaign in the bullpen but quickly moved into the rotation and has already made four starts. Interestingly, so far Brault’s longest outing (6.0 innings) has been his worst (five runs allowed). He has twice limited the opposition to two runs or fewer, but on each of those occasions, he worked no more than 5.1 innings. The 25-year-old most recently faced Philadelphia last Saturday, when he pitched into the sixth inning and gave up just two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out four batters during a 6-2 road loss to the Phillies.
The St. Louis Cardinals are:
- 9-2 in their last 11 overall
- 6-1 in their last seven road games
- 4-1 in their last five games against left-handed starters
The Pittsburgh Pirates are:
- 1-5 in their last six overall
- 0-7 in their last seven games against right-handed starters
- 0-4 in their last four series openers
DeJong, who leads the team with seven homers in 2018, hit .273 with three homers, eight RBIs, and seven runs scored in 55 at-bats last season. Catcher Yadier Molina is not far behind with six dingers. The Cardinals are 9-2 in their last 11 overall, 6-1 in their last seven on the road, 4-1 in their last five against left-handed starters, 8-1 in their last nine against the National League Central, and 5-2 in their last seven on Fridays. Pittsburgh is 1-5 in its last six overall, 0-7 in its last seven against right-handed starters, 0-4 in its last four series openers, 2-9 in its last 11 on Fridays, and 4-9 in its last 13 against opponents with winning percentages over .600. Count on those trends continuing.
Pick: St. Louis Cardinals
Brault has a respectable 3.38 ERA lifetime in two appearances (one start) against St. Louis. Mikolas has been effective against everyone this season–including borderline dominant in his two most recent starts. The under is 3-1-1 in the Cardinals’ last five on the road, 4-1 in their last five on the road against left-handed starters, 5-2 in their last seven on the road against winning opponents, 5-2-1 in their last eight against the National League Central, and 4-0 in their last four on Fridays. It is also 45-22-1 in the Pirates’ last 68 against the National League Central, 3-1-3 in their last seven against right-handed starters, and 6-2-2 in their last 10 against opponents with winning percentages over .600. Additionally, the under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to stay under the total.