Pirates-Cardinals Game 5 Preview

BUCS GO TO COLE WITH SEASON ON THE LINE WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN ST. LOUIS

When Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett lived down to his horrible history in St. Louis way back in Game One of the National League Divisional Series between the Pirates and the Cardinals, the last thing Bucs Nation wanted to see was a replay in Game Five. Manager Clint Hurdle felt the same way! That's why Gerritt Cole is returning to the mound after his Game Two gem to face Adam Wainwright with the series on the line Wednesday evening.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are waiting in the wings to play the winner beginning this Friday Night in the best-of-seven NLCS. Let's crunch some numbers for Wednesday's Game Five Finale to the NL Divisional round to see if we can determine who will be playing the Dodgers with a World Series berth on the line...

PITTSBURGH at ST. LOUIS (Game 5)
8:07 p.m. ET on TBS
Vegas Line: St. Louis -155, total of 6.5

The Cardinals get full value for home field advantage plus their projected edge on the mound with their staff ace. That low total suggests that the market is expecting a pitcher's duel...fully aware that Wainwright is capable of going most of the way with shutout possibilities.

THE SERIES SO FAR
Game One: St. Louis 9, Pittsburgh 1 (Wainwright over Burnett)
Game Two: Pittsburgh 7, St. Louis 1 (Cole over Lynn)
Game Three:  Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 3 (Liriano over Kelly)
Game Four: St. Louis 2, Pittsburgh 1 (Wacha over Morton)

St. Louis leads in total runs scored 15-14. But, 60% of their runs came in the game started by Burnett! They've only managed 1-3-2 in the three games since then, and are hoping that adjustments made from Game Two against Cole will give Wainwright a larger margin of error to work with. It was a great batting average with runners in scoring position all season that launched the Cardinals to the #1 seed in the Senior Circuit. They can't afford to lose that knack now!

WEDNESDAY'S PITCHERS
Pittsburgh: Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
St. Louis: Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)

Cole pitched six innings back in Game Two...allowing only one run while getting five strikeouts and throwing 86 pitches. He'll be on normal rest because there were two travel days since his last outing. And, those 86 pitches shouldn't have taxed him too terribly. If you've been watching the Pirates this year, you know that Cole throws SMOKE! What's odd though is that he doesn't get as many strikeouts as you would expect from having that kind of stuff. Hitters can make contact. St. Louis is getting their second look in short order against a pitcher who may not get enough movement to fool them for another six innings.

Wainwright only allowed one run in seven innings when he pitched the series opener. He had nine strikeouts while throwing 105 pitches. He's a veteran...he's tough to hit...and he knows the season is on his shoulders. He's a deserving favorite. Have oddsmakers given him too much credit based on his workhorse reputation? Aren't the Pirates in a better spot emotionally as a disrespected underdog than a "bite your fingernails" favorite?

JIM HURLEY loves building using midweek baseball to build his football bankroll. He'll have either a side or total for you in this game posted on Wednesday here at the website. If you'd like to talk to a representative about combination packages for baseball and football through the rest of October, call the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-800-323-4453.

Football is back on the calendar Thursday as another full weekend of great action is already upon us. This week's preview schedule:

Thursday: NY Giants at Chicago on the NFL Network
Friday: early look at Missouri at Georgia in an SEC battle of ranked teams
Saturday: preview of prime time showdown matching Texas A&M and Ole Miss
Sunday: Washington at Dallas on NBC
Monday: Indianapolis at San Diego on ESPN

Who would have imagined that teams like the Giants and Redskins would be dealing with 2013 disasters when that TV schedule was first announced...or that Georgia would be auditioning water boys to be their running back because they've had so many injuries! Wait a second....newcomers Missouri and Texas A&M are the teams playing showcase games in the SEC...overshadowing Oklahoma/Texas from the Big 12?!

The media may be surprised by how the college and pro seasons are playing out. The oddsmakers have definitely been playing catch up week by week. JIM HURLEY and his NETWORK clients are laughing all the way to the bank! Sign up today so you can GET THE MONEY!

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