The St. Louis Cardinals can clinch their third consecutive National League Central title with a victory over the rival Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Tuesday. Matt Carpenter, who scored the eventual game-winning run in Monday’s 3-0 triumph, is 19-for-52 (.365) with six homers, 11 runs scored and 10 RBIs in his last 13 games.
Carpenter scored on a single in the ninth inning by Jon Jay, who entered the game after rookie Stephen Piscotty (head contusion) was involved in a horrific outfield collision. While the Cardinals reside one victory shy of 100, the Pirates sit four games out of the division while holding a 3 1/2-game lead over the Chicago Cubs for the top wild card. Pittsburgh, which has lost nine of the 17 meetings with St. Louis this season, has dropped two in a row following an eight-game winning streak. Andrew McCutchen has struggled mightily to the tune of 4-for-25 (.160) in his last eight contests, but is 7-for-15 (.467) in his career versus Tuesday starter Michael Wacha.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), ROOT (Pittsburgh)
LINE HISTORY: The Pirates opened as the slimest of favorites at -106 and the number has jumped between -113 and +104 since opening. The game is currently listed at a dead even -104.
Cardinals – RF S. Piscotty (out Tuesday, head), C Y. Molina (out for regular season, thumb), SP C. Martinez (out for season, shoulder), SP A. Wainwright (60-day DL, Achilles), RP J. Walden (60-day DL, bicep).
Pirates – 2B J. Kang (60-day DL, knee), 1B C. Hart (60-day DL, shoulder), RP D. Guerra (60-day DL, knee), RP C. Sadler (60-day DL, forearm), RF A. Lambo (60-day DL, foot).
WEATHER REPORT: There is curently a 90 percent chance of rain showers expected around the start of gametime. Temperatures will be in the high 60s with a slight four mile per wind blowing in from left field.
UMPIRE REPORT: Dan Iassogna will be the man calling balls and strikes for tonight’s big game. The home team is 12-18, while the O/U is 13-16-1 in the 30 games Iassogna has officiated this season. The Pirates are 1-4 in their last five games with Iassogna behind home plate.
HOT FAN WAR:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (17-6, 3.15 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Charlie Morton (9-8, 4.54)
After a sizzling summer, Wacha has cooled down considerably by alternating wins and losses over his last four starts. The 19th overall pick of the 2012 draft, Wacha has allowed 15 earned runs in his last 20 frames and issued 14 walks in that span. Wacha, however, has handcuffed Pittsburgh in his career, permitting four earned runs in 18 2/3 innings versus the Pirates this season and just seven in 32 2/3 frames en route to a 3-0 career mark.
While Wacha has dominated the Pirates, Morton has endured constant nightmarish performances en route to a 2-11 career mark versus St. Louis while allowing the club to bat .305 against him. The 31-year-old is 1-4 in his last six outings overall and escaped with a no-decision despite permitting six runs on 10 hits – including two homers – in 4 1/3 frames versus Colorado on Wednesday. Morton has yielded 12 runs on 19 hits in his last two starts (8 1/3 innings) and four homers in his last three outings after keeping the ball in the park in each of his previous four.
* Cardinals are 5-1 in Wacha’s last six starts versus the Pirates.
* Cardinals are 2-5 in their last seven meetings in Pittsburgh.
* Pirates are 3-13 in Morton’s last 16 starts versus the Cardinals.
* Pirates are 0-5 in Morton’s last five home starts versus the Cardinals.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is very evenly split for this pivotal NL Central clash, with 54.46 percent of wagers backing the Pirates, currently at -104.