The St. Louis Cardinals will aim to clinch a four-game series against the Pirates on Sunday in Pittsburgh — something that seemed iffy a few days ago.
The Cardinals, trying to move into a wild card spot, opened a critical 10-game, 11-day road trip against National League Central opponents with a tough 11-7 loss Thursday against the Pirates, during which they blew a six-run lead.
But they followed that with 4-3 and 13-0 wins, which seems more befitting against the last-place team in the NL Central. St. Louis is 12-6 against Pittsburgh going into the teams’ final meeting of 2021.
The Cardinals are leaning on various players. Saturday, it was starter Adam Wainwright, who has dominated the Pirates, but it also was shortstop Edmundo Sosa, who had four hits, including triples to right-center and left-center, and five RBIs.
“(He’s) using both gaps, doing everything we’ve asked him to do,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said.
Sosa’s hits were among the 18 the Cardinals pounded out Saturday, and that can be a source of confidence as the wild-card chase moves forward.
“Definitely,” said Dylan Carlson, who homered in the game. “Everybody’s swinging the bat well.”
As St. Louis did following Thursday’s debacle, Pittsburgh hopes to rebound from the blowout loss Saturday.
“We have to flush it because we’ve played really good baseball (lately),” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “It was the first game in a while we have not played a good game through and through, so we’ve just got to flush it and come back out (Sunday) and just move on from it.”
The Pirates were stinging a little after popular teammate but struggling right fielder Gregory Polanco was released Saturday. He was the club’s longest tenured player, arriving in 2016.
Michael Chavis made his first start in right Saturday but left in the fifth because of right elbow discomfort, apparently from an earlier diving attempt at a catch. However, the Pirates have other outfield options.
In the series finale and the final game of the year between the clubs, St. Louis left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim (6-6, 3.27 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (3-7, 5.46 ERA).
After coming off the Injured List last week (elbow inflammation), Kim was assigned to the bullpen. He pitched in relief Tuesday, 2 2/3 hitless innings against Detroit.
The next day, however, Jack Flaherty went on the 10-day IL, and Kim was tagged to return to the rotation.
He will be looking to get back on track as a starter. On July 28, he gave up a career-high four homers, five runs total, in 2 2/3 innings in a loss at Cleveland.
Against Pittsburgh, Kim has no decisions and a 4.86 ERA in four career games, three of them starts. One of those starts was June 25, when he allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Crowe has lost his past two decisions after winning two in a row. His last time out, Monday against Arizona, he did not get a decision after giving up five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, with one walk and five strikeouts.
All three of Crowe’s career starts against the Cardinals have come his season, going 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA. The win, June 25 at Busch Stadium, was his first in the major leagues.
–Field Level Media