Diamondbacks Wrap Series At Pittsburgh Pirates
By: Willie Bee
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Will Wandy Rodriguez win over Pittsburgh Pirates fans when he makes his first home start since being picked up in a July trade? More importantly, can he win money for bettors backing the Bucs who are $1.20 favorites in their series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks?
The late matinee affair at PNC Park is slated for a 4:05 p.m. (ET) first pitch from Rodriguez. He faces fellow lefty Joe Saunders of Arizona with an 8-run total.
Arizona has climbed back into the National League playoff picture thanks to a 17-11 push that began just before the all-star break. The Diamondbacks stopped a 3-game slide with a 10-4 victory in the second game of this series on Tuesday, getting a pair of late homers from newly-acquired third baseman Chris Johnson to rally from a 4-3 deficit and grab the dubya as slight +105 underdogs. The triumph left the Snakes four games out of the NL West in third place, and 6.5-games behind the Pirates for the second NL wild-card slot.
Even with that loss, the Pirates still own the best home record in the majors (34-17), and the fourth-best overall mark in the NL which puts them 3.5-games back of the Cincinnati Reds in the Central. Pittsburgh had won 13 of 20 entering Wednesday's third game of the set which was still pending. Arizona was priced at -140 for the tilt with an 8-run total. Ian Kennedy was scheduled to pitch for the D-Backs opposite Kevin Correia.
Saunders will be taking the mound for the 19th time this campaign and has produced nice numbers over his last nine outings with a 3.35 ERA and 43:16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Despite his efforts, Arizona managed to win just two of those nine assignments thanks to a lack of run support. The Diamondbacks were blanked in three of the losses and managed to score but a single run in three others.
The former star at Virginia Tech beat the Bucs in Phoenix back in April, tossing seven innings while scattering six hits and allowing just one run.
Rodriguez has been a bit lucky as well as unlucky in his first two starts since coming from Houston in a late-July swap. Both outings were on the road, and his first start for the Pirates came against his former Astros teammates. The southpaw was a bit wild but still kept Pittsburgh in the game, and the Bucs eventually rallied for a 4-3 triumph. He surrendered just three runs in Cincinnati the last time out, but the Pirates couldn't muster any offense against Mat Latos and the Reds who scored a 3-0 whitewashing.
He last faced the Diamondbacks almost exactly one year ago in Arizona, posting zeroes for six innings and allowing just two hits while striking out five. Rodriguez is 3-5 in eight lifetime starts vs. the Snakes with a 5.40 ERA.
Pittsburgh had a slim 3-2 advantage over the Diamondbacks this season with Wednesday's contest still unsettled. The 'under' also held a 3-2 edge in 2012 clashes. The Pirates had won six of the last eight played at PNC Park.
Alfonso Marquez should complete the umpire crew's rotation in this 4-game series on Thursday. Totals have run 13-8-1 'under' in his previous 22 plate assignments, with the 'over' 3-1 the last four.
A warm, muggy day is in the forecast for Iron City where afternoon highs will reach the mid-80s. The chance of rain increases as the afternoon wears on.