Monday I gave you the OVER with the Pirates vs. Phillies and nailed it with an easy OVER; no sweating it out as the game was already over halfway through. Let's revisit these two teams as they prepare for Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon matchups.
Thursday June 28th
First pitch: 1:05 pm ET
The odds are unavailable for this game, but one imagines that the odds would be somewhere close to even as A.J. Burnett (8-2, 3.24) takes the mound for the Pirates and faces against Kyle Kendrick (2-7, 5.24).
Burnett has had a spectacular year after practically stealing money from the Yankees when he came from Toronto.
In New York, Burnett was known for throwing celebratory pies and, in Pittsburgh, he's known for being one of their two top pitchers. Kendrick, on the other hand, has been a disaster this season.
In the entire month of June, Kendrick hasn't had a quality outing. Saying that, he's had a career of success against the Pirates in which he's gone 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 7 career starts.
There's no question about the 2012 season that A.J. Burnett has had. He's pitched a quality outing in every game except for one when he got lit up for 12 runs and 12 hits in just 2 2/3 innings against the Cardinals on May 2th. Do you think that the manager should've taken him out a little earlier? Without that outing, his ERA could actually be less than 2 runs per game.
It's clear that Burnett is much the better here and, even though the Phillies have the momentum as of Wednesday, the Pirates will get the "W'" with A.J. on the mound against a weak Kyle Kendrick
Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates (odds unknown but should be desirable-close to even--Pirates will possibly be a slight favorite)
Enjoy this intra-state rivalry as the Fightin' Phils try to get out of the basement and back up to the top of the National League East, a place that they know very well.
Review Wednesday's Pick
Homefield advantage is always nice, but the Pirates have the decisive pitching advantage as righthander James McDonald (6-3, 2.19) faces Raul Valdes (2-0, 1.84). Now Valdes' numbers look great, but he's never started and that's an entirely different situation. McDonald, on the other hand, has been pitching lights out for the Buckos.
In 14 starts this season, McDonald has produced 13 quality outings. That's all you need to know as he's virtually automatic to pitch well. McDonald has given up 1 run or fewer in 8 out of those 14 starts, simply amazing numbers as the Pirates have a major edge against an inexperienced pitcher who hasn't gone the distance.
Home field advantage
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been the much better team thus far, but Philly is climbing back into the playoff picture after taking the first two games from Pittsburgh.
On Monday, Joe Blanton pitched very well as the Fightin' Phils defeated the Pirates 8-3, and on Tuesday Vance Worley pitched slightly better than Erik Bedard as the Phils edged out a 5-4 victory.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz continues to amaze as he hit an 8th inning home run (his 10th of the year) that made the difference in the game as Pittsburgh came back with a run in the 9th inning on Tuesday.
Ruiz is batting cleanup and you know why. He's hitting .361 on the season with 10 HR and 41 RBI. In his last 2 games, Ruiz is 6 for 9 with 5 runs, 1 HR and 2 RBI. Catcher is a position where the player gets an occasional day off, but the Phillies can't afford to give Ruiz any time off as he's been a superstar. Look for more of the same in the present and the future.
On Monday, I also mentioned the play of Jimmy Rollins. Sure enough, he hit his 4th home run in 5 games and this is not a power hitter. Rollins took the collar last night at 0 for 3, but James McDonald needs to pitch to Rollins cautiously. Rollins is 2 for 7 lifetime against McDonald and has gone yard on him once.
Outfielder Hunter Pence is a lifetime 7 for 13 with 2 doubles, 1 HR and 4 RBI against James McDonald. Even though Pittsburgh has a pitching edge, some key Phillies hitters have fared well against the Pittsburgh righthander.
Pick: Phillies -107 (Phillies have the momentum and an edge in the player vs. pitcher matchups and overall good play cant be ignored)