Vanimal was one tough hombre last outing. He scattered four hits over eight shutout innings and won a 1-0 decision against Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta Sunday afternoon, starting 21 of his 27 batters with first-pitch strikes and retiring the final 13 hittersd he faced. Vance has won his last three decisions. He did have a break, missing a start when Charlie Morton bumped him briefly and claimed the short rest did him good.
He's been so-so against the Reds, going 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) against Cincy. This year, Vance allowed two runs in two innings of relief and won a 3-2 decision at PNC on 8/30. Another thing to watch: Vanimal struggles on the road. He's 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA in his last four starts away from PNC Park.
Leake has developed into a dependable workhorse type of pitcher, and passed the 200 IP mark for a season for the first time this year. There might be a price to pay for all those frames, though, as September hasn't been very kind to him. After going seven shutout innings against Pittsburgh to end August, Mike has given up 18 earned runs in his past four starts (21 IP) this month.
He's 1-0/3.71 against the Pirates this season in four starts.
The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider 2B, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Starling Marte RF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Jordy Mercer SS and Worley P.Gaby's in because Ike has the flu, but we're surprised to see Russ behind the dish. We'd hate to see him pull up lame; he's been tempting fate lately.
The game starts at 7:10 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
- See Ball, Hit Ball: Josh Harrison had a 13 game hitting streak; Starling Marte's streak is at 10 games. Harrison leads the league with a .319 average with Justin Morneau next at .317 and then Cutch at .314.
- See You In September: The Pirates are 16-7 this month, which is tied for the best record in the NL along with Washington. It’s also the first time Pittsburgh has won 16 games in September since 2000. The best month of the campaign to date was June when the club went 17-10.
- Bumpy Road: The Pirates have won five of their last six and nine of their last 11 games on the road. Still, they're only 36-42 away from PNC Park. Pittsburgh has lost 4-of-6 games in Cincinnati this season.
- No Penalty: Henry Schulman, Giants beat writer, tweeted that "If SF, STL, PIT all end with same record, and PIT loses playoff for Central, it still HOSTS Giants in wild card game. Per league exec, can't penalize Bucs for playing well enough to catch Cards for Central by making them go on road for wild card game they'd otherwise host."
- Second Half Plunge: Since the All-Star break, the Reds are 23-41. The Cincy record for fewest wins following the All-Star Game during a full season is 25, set in 1933, so this year could mark the biggest second-half collapse in franchise history. They have shaken off a long losing streak to take three of their last four games, though.
- NL Home Field: The Washington National's 4-0 win over Miami this afternoon guaranteed them the top spot and home field advantage during the NL playoffs. The Nats will play the wild card winner in the NLDS while the NL Central winner will face the Dodgers.