The St. Louis Cardinals are the Big Brother of the NL Central, while the Pittsburgh Pirates have assumed the role of Little Brother, knocking on the door for the top spot in the division early this season. The Cardinals went in to Little Brother's house, PNC Park, to put them in their place which they did on Monday, scoring 10 runs in the first two innings en route to a 10-6 win. However, the Cardinals trailed 2-4 in Tuesday's game before it was rained out in the second, granting starter Jake Westbrook mercy and erasing his first earned runs of the season. Wednesday, however, no mercy was given as Pirates' starter A.J. Burnett took a no-hitter into the seventh before Carlos Beltran doubled with two outs. The Pirates took the final game 5-0 in a shutout of Big Brother St. Louis.
Lance Lynn was neither dominant nor shaky in Monday's game, but rather looked like one still trying to adapt to his altered mechanics due to his massive offseason weight loss. However, he at least pitched well enough to get the win. The bullpen was worrisome however and Manager Mike Matheny stated he was one batter away from removing closer Mitchell Boggs in favor of Edward Mujica for the save. Mujica has easily been the most reliable right-handed reliever for the Cardinals, and has pitched his way into the mix for saves due to the massive struggles of Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal.
Despite allowing two earned runs over six innings, Shelby Miller appeared dominant once again on Wednesday. He generated a lot of weak contact, even on scoring plays, and struck out six while walking one. He pitched more than well enough to earn his third win, but instead got the loss as Burnett was masterful for the Pirates as the Cardinals were shutout. The bats may be blamed if they must, but watching the game, Burnett simply had every thing working with eclectic stuff and impeccable control. When Burnett issues this combination, he can pitch with the best in all of baseball. The Cardinals bullpen, on the other hand, was bad once again. They allowed three runs after Miller left following the sixth inning. Randy Choate and Rosenthal each allowed an earned run while Rosenthal allowed an unearned run as a result of an error by David Freese. Fernando Salas was the lone bright spot as he pitched two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout and no runs allowed.
The Cardinals will look to get the bullpen figured out in the upcoming series against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philly. The series is a four game series and looks to be a good one as both teams will send out their top four starting pitchers. Adam Wainwright will look to continue his dominance following a shutout in his last start, going up against Cole Hamels on Friday.
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