The St. Louis Cardinals have a wild-card spot to chase, so they can’t get caught up in the drama surrounding opponents. However, the also-ran Pittsburgh Pirates have their own agenda.
The teams have three more games in their series in Pittsburgh to see whose storylines prevail, but on Thursday it was the Pirates’.
Not only did Pittsburgh erase a six-run deficit and ride an eight-run seventh inning to an 11-7 win, but the Pirates also came away with a strong feel-good subplot.
Right fielder Gregory Polanco, the Pirates’ longest-tenured player, has struggled, survived outright waivers this week and is most likely in his final season with the club. He might have hit a low point Wednesday when his fielding error helped lead to a home loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks as the fans let him have it.
On Thursday, his two-run double in the seventh gave Pittsburgh its first lead in the comeback win, and he had three hits, giving him some redemption.
“They have to understand that I’m a human being, too,” Polanco, who is batting .209, said of the fans. “This is my work. This is my job. I don’t want to do bad. I eat because of baseball. That’s how I get paid, so I want to do great every time. That’s not nice to hear that, the fans, like, ‘Oh, release him. DFA him. Send him back.'”
Thursday notwithstanding, St. Louis had been dominant in Pittsburgh — 6-0 this year and winning 10 straight there overall before the tough loss.
Miles Mikolas, who started Thursday for the Cardinals, had some advice that was aimed at reliever Genesis Cabrera, who gave up six runs in the seventh without getting an out, but could probably benefit the entire St. Louis squad down the stretch.
“That inning is not indicative of how our bullpen is at all,” Mikolas said. “Forget about it. Have an extra beer and forget about it. Forget it even happened.”
The Cardinals would do well to heed that after Thursday, which was the start of a 10-game road trip against NL Central foes.
Overall, St. Louis is 3-6 since a six-game winning streak. Pittsburgh has accounted for half of those losses after taking two of three last weekend at Busch Stadium.
On Friday, St. Louis left-hander J.A. Happ (7-6, 5.88 ERA) is slated to oppose Pittsburgh left-hander Dillon Peters (0-1, 1.86).
Peters’ most recent start was the only one of his career against the Cardinals. At St. Louis on Saturday, in his second outing of the season, he did not get a decision despite a strong start, giving up one run and three hits in five innings with one walk and three strikeouts.
“I was getting ahead early,” said Peters, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations last month. “When you get ahead, you’re going to get some bad swings and some foul pitches, which will jack that strike percentage up.”
Happ likewise did not get a decision Saturday when he faced Peters and Pittsburgh. In six innings, he gave up two runs and six hits with one walk and eight strikeouts, and he left with a lead.
In 13 career starts against the Pirates, Happ is 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA. He is facing them for the fourth time this year (2-0, 1.40 ERA).
–Field Level Media