Denied a fourth consecutive road series win this past weekend in Cincinnati, the Pittsburgh Pirates return home this week to begin a long 11-game homestand against a trio of NL West foes.
The homestand begins with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday when rookie Wade Miley and the Bucs' Erik Bedard collide in a battle of southpaws. Arizona is a $1.20 road favorite in the opener with a total in the 7½-8 run range.
Our focus is on the second of the 4-game set Tuesday (7:05 p.m. ET) as Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens shoots for his fifth straight winning decision opposite a second D-Backs rookie left-hander, Patrick Corbin. Game 2 finds the odds reversed with the Pirates beginning as $1.20 favorites on the overnight numbers while the first totals going up were at the 8-run mark.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 6-3 road trip that would normally be termed a success. But in this case, the Pirates lost two games in the NL Central standings to the Reds who have been on a tear since just after the all-star break. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks were going 6-4 during the same span the Bucs were 6-3, and Arizona gained two games on the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants.
Though third in the NL West, Arizona actually opened this series closer to its division lead than the Pirates are in second of the NL Central. Pittsburgh does have a 6-game advantage on the Diamondbacks in the National League wild card race, however.
The D-Backs had an opportunity to pick up more ground in their division, but dropped the final two games in Philadelphia last weekend in the middle part of their three city tour that concludes in Iron City this week. As Arizona was losing a pair in Philly, both the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers were pulling off sweeps of the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs respectively.
Corbin has bounced back and forth from the D-Backs to the minors this season, and was called up just as this road trip was beginning to take the rotation slot that previously belonged to Josh Collmenter. The lefty tossed six shutout innings last Wednesday against the Dodgers, helping the Snakes complete a sweep in LA as even-money underdogs.
That was Corbin's sixth start for Arizona to go with five relief outings. The Diamondbacks have split his six assignments, as well as the four starts Corbin has made on the road. Tuesday will mark his career cherry vs. the Pirates.
Karstens' last appearance against the Diamondbacks ended with him going on the disabled list for a little more than two months. He took the mound in Arizona on April 17 and was pulled after just an inning during which the D-Backs scored twice. His first start back from the DL in Philly on June 25 was a rough one (5 IP, 6 ER), but Karstens has since settled in to help the Bucs to five wins in his last six assignments.
Just three of his 10 starts this season have come on the home diamond, and Karstens has been brilliant at PNC Park by allowing just one run over 21 innings. That lone score came in the first frame of his initial home outing on April 7, giving Karstens a 20-2/3 scoreless inning string at home when he climbs the mound on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh took two of three from the D-Backs in Arizona back in April, the 'under' also winning twice. The Pirates have won five of the last six played at PNC Park ('under' 4-2).