Pirates at Cardinals: What bettors need to know
Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (-152, 6.5)
The St. Louis Cardinals endured a season-long battle with division rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati before winning the National League Central, but they will line up against a familiar foe when they host the Pirates in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Thursday. St. Louis surged into the playoffs with a six-game winning streak while allowing only six runs. Pittsburgh will have to slow the highest-scoring team in the NL in its first postseason appearance since 1992.
Pittsburgh won the season series 10-9 and beat up on the Cardinals at home, but St. Louis took the last four matchups, including a three-game sweep in September that served as a springboard for a 17-5 finish. The Pirates rely on a strong home-field edge - See: raucous crowd in Tuesday's 6-2 wild card win over Cincinnati - but they were among the best teams in the majors with a 44-37 record on the road. The return of Jason Grilli as closer could give the Pirates an edge at the back of the bullpen.TV:
5:07 p.m. ET, TBS WEATHER:
Temperatures in the low 80s with a 40 percent chance of thunder showers and winds blowing south at 8 mph.PITCHING MATCHUP:
Pirates RH A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94)
Burnett enters the playoffs off back-to-back wins against Cincinnati to give him nine consecutive seasons with double-digit victories. He'll be facing St. Louis for the seventh time this season and the results have been dramatically different between home and away. Burnett gave up two runs in 21 innings at PNC Park but was tattooed for 10 runs over 7 1/3 innings in two late-season starts in St. Louis.
Wainwright led the majors in complete games (5) and tied for the NL lead in victories after winning his last four decisions, including seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball against Pittsburgh on Sept. 7. He absorbed consecutive beatings by Cincinnati before rebounding to permit only seven runs in his last five starts. Wainwright is 9-6 with a 2.53 ERA and four complete games in 17 home starts. TRENDS:
* Over is 16-4-2 in the last 22 meetings in St. Louis.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Pirates are 0-4 in the last four meetings in St. Louis.
* Cardinals are 7-3 in Wainwright's last 10 starts vs. Pirates.WALK-OFFS:
1. St. Louis' balanced lineup can be a nightmare - it featured five players who had at least 78 RBIs and batted between .296 and .319.
2. Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is 12-for-28 and wild card hero Russell Martin (two homers) is 9-for-22 versus Wainwright.
3. Cardinals 2B Matt Carpenter is 9-for-21 with two doubles and two triples against Burnett.