PITTSBURGH - The Cardinals will be looking to change their recent luck in PNC Tuesday as they seek to guarantee a series win with a victory against the Pirates.
Lance Lynn (14-8) will try to continue a recent string of strong performances to ensure a rare series win for the Redbirds (71-59) in the Steel City and keep them close to the division leading Milwaukee Brewers.
The newest face in the Cardinal clubhouse, Randal Grichuk, will be used off the bench, Cardinal skipper Mike Matheny said before the game Tuesday.
Grichuk, who had minimal success in previous appearances with the big club, appears to have found his mojo. He led Triple A Memphis with 25 home runs and Tuesday, seemed more confident in the clubhouse. One big change he emphasized will be his aggressiveness.
“Coming up here, I felt like I was a little bit too patient. I wasn’t the aggressive hitter I normally am (when I was) up here,” he said. “I felt like I let too many first and second strikes go by and got in a hole. I felt like then I was playing catch up and got to chasing.”
Grichuk credits Adam Wainwright with an epiphany that sounds simple, but made a huge impact. He said Wainwright sought him out after his first pinch-hit at bat when he took the first pitch down the middle for strike one.
“Waino asked me the next day, ‘What were you thinking up there?’ I was like, ‘Just getting my timing, really getting a feel for everything.’ He was like, ‘Coming off the bench you have to be ready. Be ready for that first pitch; it might be the best pitch you get.’”
He said he also sought counsel from Kolten Wong, who was sent down to the minors and then recalled with improved results.
“He really told me it was mental confidence,” Grichuk said. “Not letting the pitcher’s name, the fans, the bigger stadiums get to you. Same stuff as Triple-A, same stuff as your whole life.”
Grichuk replaces the injured Shane Robinson who is in St. Louis, awaiting the results of an MRI on his injured shoulder.
•The Pirates are 5-0-1 in the last six series played between the two teams at PNC Park, including series wins here in April and May. Pittsburgh is batting .303 against the Cardinals in seven games so far this season at PNC and are averaging nearly five runs a game, consistent with their average here against the Cards over the past two years.
•Worse for the Cards, Pirate pitchers have been stingy, posting an ERA of just under 3.00 in the 17 games the clubs have played over that span. The Pirates have won 11 of the 17.
•But the teams appear to be on diverging tracks, with the Redbirds winning seven of the last 10 and the Pirates losing 11 of their last 16. While the Pirates’ offense has been much better this year, the record is decidedly worse.
•At this time last year, the Bucs (67-64) were 76-55. The difference lies in two areas: They are just 27-37 on the road and have played .500 ball for the past six weeks while other teams moved away from them.
•John Jay has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games and has hit .381 since the All-Star break.
•The Cards have 209 two-out RBIs, tops in the National league and second in all of baseball to the Oakland As (218). The Cardinals (92) are one of just five teams in baseball who have allowed fewer than 100 home runs this season.
•The Cards have won five times this month in their final at bat. They are 11-8 on Tuesdays and 14-9 in August.