(BaseballStL) — It’s a different Pirates team than the 2013 squad that hosts the Cardinals Friday. At 14-20, Pittsburgh is just barely holding off the last place Cubs (12-21), and has gone 4-4 to begin May.
Having closed out April with eight losses in their final 10 games, the Pirates are in desperate need of a string of wins to climb back into the race.
Michael Wacha hopes to prevent that, as he chases just his third win of the season. Despite allowing only 12 earned runs in 42 innings, the young starter can’t seem to find any support. In his three losses, the team has scored two runs or less behind him all three times.
Wednesday’s outburst may prove to be a turning point for that, as the Cardinals erupted for 13 hits and scored seven to shake of an offensive malaise that had dogged them for much of the season.
Speaking of frustrating, Fancisco Liriano hasn’t looked anywhere close to his tremendous 2013. The big lefty is winless in 2014, and in fact hasn’t won a regular season start since September 10 last season.
The Pirates have scored two runs or less four times behind him in 2014, resulting in three losses. When the offense did show up, Liriano didn’t. In games where the Pirates scored six or more, Liranio gave up four earned runs (five in all), resulting in no decisions for him despite the club ultimately pulling out victories after he exited (one of those contests was his early departure against St. Louis on April 26).
A struggling Liriano may be just what the Cardinal offense needs to continue its return to form.
Both teams have franchise players, and both of those players are immune to their club’s rocky starts.
For the Cardinals, Yadier Molina has held strong, hitting .310 on the season with four home runs and 17 RBIs. This despite a team average of just .248.
For the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen continues to build on his MVP-winning year, hitting .321 with four bombs and 18 RBIs while slugging .519.
McCutchen is one of only two active pirates with a hit off Wacha, going 1-for-3 in his career.
Molina is 2-for-10 lifetime against Liriano.
1) Matt Carpenter 3B
2) Jhonny Peralta SS
3) Matt Holliday LF
4) Matt Adams 1B
5) Yadier Molina C
6) Allen Craig RF
7) Peter Bourjos CF
8) Mark Ellis 2B
9) Michael Wacha P