RHP Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.91 ERA) takes on the Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia (3-4, 4.48) in the deciding match at St. Louis. In his last eight starts, Karstens has gone 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA while pitching seven innings or longer five times. But like the other starters, he's had first inning (and lead off batter) woes. Garcia hasn't tossed for the Cards since early June when he went down with a shoulder injury. The game starts at 2:15 and will be shown on Root Sports.
The lineup: Jose Tabata LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Andrew McCutchen CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Travis Snider RF, Mike McKenry C, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Clint Barmes SS, Jeff Karstens P.
The bench is way short, with Walker out and Mercer bruised, leaving GI Jones, Rod Barajas and Yamaico Navarro. The bullpen is without Tony Watson and Juan Cruz, who worked back-to-back games, while Jared Hughes is iffy after tossing 2-1/3 innings yesterday. And Snider is out there starting against a lefty even though he's one of the walking wounded with a sore hammy; we would have expected Jones or even Navarro to be in RF.
Today's the rubber match, and it will determine if Pittsburgh maintains a little breathing space in the wild card race or drop into the pack. And while people pooh-pooh the wild card, remember that St. Louis squeaked into last year's playoffs through it and came away with a World Series trophy.
- Jose Tabata was called up today; we'd guess that Alex Presley lost out because there's a lefty on the hill for the Cards. It was also announced that Starling Marte will go on the 15-day DL with a right oblique issue. Jordy Mercer will go on a 3-day paternity leave after the game; he and his wife expect their first child, a son who they're naming Maverick. And Chad Qualls is still on bereavement leave; he should be back Monday when Mercer goes.
- The rotation for the Padre series will be Wandy Rodriguez, AJ Burnett and James McDonald. KC lost his turn and is back in the pen. The schedule keeps AJ and J-Mick on their five day shifts, too.
- Pittsburgh is 6-1/2 games behind the Reds in the Central Division and 4 behind the Braves for the first wild card. They lead the Dodgers by 1/2 game and the Cards by one for the second wild card.
- The Bucs and Cards have just one more series left to play, in Pittsburgh on August 27-29th. The Red Birds are 6-5 against the Pirates so far this season.
- Jameson Taillon will make his first AA start today at Altoona. The RHP went 6-8/3.82 at High A Bradenton in 23 starts.
- In Fox Sports' Full Count vid, Ken Rosenthal says the Bucs could have had Shane Victorino for Brad Lincoln at the deadline. Bad Brad went to Toronto instead for Travis Snider. In 76 AB, Victorino's line is .261/.311/.391 while Snider's slash with 46 AB is .319/.377/.824. Snider will begin his arb years in 2013, while The Flyin' Hawaiian is a FA after the season.
- Pedro Ciriaco, the SS Pittsburgh released last season, is hitting .343 for Boston and killing the Yankees in particular, although a 35 game sample is kinda small - especially with this kind of hitting chart. It has to be the envy of Josh Harrison.
- Melky Cabrera may be in a little more hot water than just flunking a PED test. A crew of New York Daily News reporters have found some cover-up efforts that have the Feds nosing around now.
- Brad Mills bit the dust at Houston. Can't fire the team, so...