First Pitch: Pirates and Cardinals Showing They’re Evenly Matched

Can you get a series more evenly matched than this one?

In game one the Cardinals blew away the Pirates, winning 9-1. The Pirates responded with their own blowout in game two, winning 7-1.

Game three was a little closer, with the Pirates edging out the Cardinals 5-3. Game four was another close game, this time featuring the Cardinals getting the edge and winning 2-1.

When you dig into the numbers, there are some things that are unfavorable for the Pirates. Starling Marte is 1-for-15 in the series, while Neil Walker is 0-for-16. But the same thing exists for the Cardinals. Matt Carpenter is 1-for-15, meaning that both leadoff hitters in this series have the same line. Jon Jay and David Freese are both 2-for-13.

The key to the Cardinals offense has been Carlos Beltran, who has a 1.197 OPS. But that’s nothing compared to the 1.621 OPS from Pedro Alvarez.

Even if you go back to the regular season, it was pretty close. The Pirates won the season series 10-9. The Cardinals out-scored the Pirates 87-85. The score so far in the playoffs is 15-14 in favor of the Cardinals.

Now the Pirates and Cardinals will go to game five of this best of five series. The Cardinals will be sending out their ace, Adam Wainwright. The Pirates won’t be sending out their ace, but they will be sending out their ace of the future, and a guy who has pitched like an ace for the last month, Gerrit Cole.

Nothing is going to be easy against Wainwright. But things shouldn’t be easy for St. Louis against Cole. I’d like to say that the Pirates hold some sort of advantage in this game, but they don’t. The Cardinals also don’t hold any advantage. They are seen as the better team by some, but the numbers above show that these two teams are on the same level.

It’s not the most exciting analysis to say that two teams are equal, and that the game could be a coin flip, but that’s the situation I see here. Do you agree or disagree?

Links and Notes

**I won’t be in St. Louis covering the game. My grandmother passed away this week, so I’m back at home in Virginia for a few days. If the Pirates win, I’ll be back for coverage of the rest of the playoffs. I’ll still have stuff up tomorrow during the day and night, I just won’t be traveling to St. Louis.

I’d also like to take this moment to share a bit about my grandma as it relates to the site. A few years ago, before I started this site, I was just out of college and getting on my feet. My grandma had to live at my parent’s house, but didn’t want to sell her house. So she offered for me to live in her house, take care of the utility bills, and save up for my own place. It wasn’t long after that the economy went bad, I was laid off, and went on a long period where I was unemployed and couldn’t find work. It was during this time that I was building up the site — originally to keep my work ethic up, but eventually because I had no other options and needed to try and make this work.

None of this would have been possible without my grandma. She continued to let me stay in her house. She wasn’t living there, but she could have rented or sold it if she wanted. She didn’t want that, because she didn’t like the idea of a non-family member living in her house. Of course she also liked that I lived a few neighborhoods away from where she was staying, which meant that most afternoons I made the short trip over to have lunch with her.

She didn’t understand the site. She was 90 years old, and never had the internet, so the idea of making a living by writing about sports was over her head. So when I told her I was going to cover a Pirates game, she would tell her friends I was working for the Pirates that week. When I told her that I was covering an Orioles game, she would tell her friends I was working for the Orioles that week. Her friends must have thought that:

1. I couldn’t hold down a job and was bouncing from team to team.

2. Despite my poor work history, I still managed to find a way to land with major league team after major league team each week.

Basically, her friends probably thought I was Mike Zagurski.

I’ve known for a months that this was coming eventually, and I’ve known for a few weeks that it would be soon, so it’s been a steady process to prepare for. It’s also somewhat easy because my grandma was 90, and lived a full and happy life. But the road trips are a bit tough. In the past, when I was on the road, I’d give my grandma a call, and she would ask what games I was at, what cities I was going to, and what teams I saw. She would have been thrilled to know that I talked with Cal Ripken in the press box before the Wild Card game (she was from Baltimore, and was an Orioles fan). She also would have loved that I was covering playoff games, even if she didn’t understand exactly what I did.

I don’t know if you wanted to read about my grandma with an important game five coming up, but the truth is that this site wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for my grandma. So I’ll be skipping game five, even though she probably would have wanted me to cover the game, and “work for the Cardinals this week”.

**Jameson Taillon and Alen Hanson Highlight Arizona Fall League Preview

**AFL Recap: Jameson Taillon Looks Good in Season Opener

 

**Gerrit Cole Will Start For the Pirates in Game Five

**The Pirates Have a Playoff Pitching Staff of Reclamation Projects

**Polanco, Kingham, and Hanson Are Top Prospects in the FSL

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.fennig Chris

    Tim,

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother. My condolences go out to your family and everyone associated with her. I appreciate everything you do with the site, and I’m sure that your grandmother would be very proud of you (if/when she could understand what you do). Keep up the good work and take all the time you need to recover from your loss.

  • http://allmyforeparents.blogspot.com Israel P.

    Thank you for letting us read about your grandma and her contribution to your work. My own has been gone eighteen years next month, at ninety-two, and she was a big Bucs fan.

    These days, folks don’t know their grandparents as well. They live far away and the grands are often way older when the g’kids are born than they were in my day.

    You are fortunate, as was she.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.fennig Chris

      Mine is currently at 83. She just recently broke her hip, but is doing well. She watches all the pirates games (as long as she stays awake….). Last of the grandparents that I have, so I know how much they mean to you. Keep it going and go bucs!

  • jedeweese

    My “Respect factor” went up for you today. Condolences and peace, Tim.

  • magicrat13

    tim,

    sincerest condolences on the loss of your grandmother….

    thank you for all the hard work you put in for us fans….

    i am sure your grandmother was proud of you…

  • BamaBuc21

    Eternal rest grant unto her, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

  • leadoff

    Tim,
    sincerest condolences on the loss of your grandmother.
    I lived with my grandmother for 5 years. I was in my teens, she used me like a mini maintenance man. Grandma could cook and bake, man did I eat. Many years since Grandma passed, but now that I am a Grandfather, I still remember my Grandma very well.

  • rsborelli

    Tim, thanks for sharing this. Sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing. May grace and love cover you and your family during this time.

  • coloneldickweed

    “I don’t know if you wanted to read about my grandma with an important game five coming up”

    The personal touch is one of my favorite parts about the new blog era. We don’t just get game reports from the papers or editorials meant to stir up reactions, we get to know the people as well. No words limit and full editorial ownership by the blog writer. It’s brilliant. That being said, sorry about your loss. Glad that she was able to live a full life.

  • CalipariFan506

    Sorry to hear about your loss Tim. My grandmothers are till both around and living through this year’s Pirates team.In fact I plan on watching the game tonight with my father’s mother at her home. Her husband passed 9 years ago and he is why I am such a huge Pirates fan. Listened to a lot of meaningless games on their porch as a kid growing up in the 90′s dreaming of a day like today.

    Win or lose I have never been more happy to follow a team through a season in any sport. I have as much pride in a bunch of millionaires as anybody could have haha.

    Let’s Go Bucs!!!

  • jschwartz

    Tim, I too would like to offer my condolences. My grandfather was the one whom really helped cultivate my love for the Pirates. He, and my other three grandparents have all passed, but their effect on my life has never diminished. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  • dselner

    Thank you for sharing your story about how you got where you are today and the role that your grandma played in this. It is fun to here stories like this. Sorry to hear of her death, but it is good that we can celebrate the death of someone that we love.

    My father-in-law died last month and he too was a much loved man.

  • smurph

    Agree this is a very, very even series. Let’s hope that when it is over, both teams have scored exactly the same number of runs.

  • https://www.facebook.com/bruce.humbert Bruce Humbert

    Thanks for sharing your story – I have greatly enjoyed your site since discovering it about mid-year. I will have a dram in your Grandma’s honor this evening and thank her for her role in making this site possible. My wife and I are both “orphans” – lost all of our parents and grandparents so we know that this is never easy – but we also know that in time you have nothing but good memories of those folks that help shape your life.

  • Paul J Books

    Tim, thank you for sharing the story about your grandmother. My condolences. Glad also that you share the part about creating this website in large part due to the fact that you cannot find work in a weak economy. The same thing happened to me 10 years ago and quite obviously we are both better off for that. I congratulate you on your success of the website, I read it every single day and look forward to your continued success. I’m happy for you that you got to enjoy your grandmother for so many years and that tidbit that she helped you get your feet on the ground in a questionable time period. Take care.

    • emjayinTN

      Tim: We will all keep a good thought for you and your family, and what is a true measure of maturity is the ability to assign priorities. Be a good son and grandson first. You and Paul share your difficulties finding work in Pittsburgh during the economic downturn. About the time you guys were just coming into this world, the steel industry died in Pittsburgh and many of us had to find work anywhere we could or go belly up in the ‘burgh. When people talk about the popularity of the Steelers all over the country, it is because many of us and our children and their children are still loyal and wear the Black and Gold of the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins loudly and proudly.

      Let’s Go Bucs

  • clemente21

    Very sweet story Tim. For many of us lucky enough to have grown up with caring ancestors, it’s the women that many times nurture our love of the game. Your site is top notch; grateful you have made a go of it.

  • BallHeadWonder

    Man!!!! Awesome story Tim!! Appreciate you sharing!! Those are the stories that keep people like me going!! The sense of family means everything!! So my prayers are with you and your family and I sure am hoping she is putting some “Special Love” on tonite’s game for us!!! Thank you for all your hard work!!! It has been a wonderful ride this year following what you have to say!!

  • duckwoes

    Thanks for sharing that story. It made my think of my own grandparents, who have been gone for many years. When I was a boy my grandfather would wow me with stories of games he had seen at Baker Bowl and Shibe Park. And I became very close to my grandmother after my grandfather passed in 1988. My condolences to you Tim

  • https://profiles.google.com/117072260031604417798 PikeBishop65

    So sorry for your loss. My Mom died two months to the day after Cabrera swung. My Dad in December of 11, just as we started to turn things around. Funny how this game affects us. God bless

  • CalipariFan506

    Losing Jon Jay to that walk in the 2nd inning on a 1-2 count is going to cost Cole the game.

    Not his fault though. The streaky offense just got cold at the absolute worst possible time.