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”.

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**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

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, 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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