Aug. 21—The Cardinals are in the midst of Pittsburgh Month with a three-game series here this weekend. This past week, they swept the Pirates three games in Pittsburgh and they have four games with the Bucs next weekend in Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals are 6-0 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. But, alas, they are only 3-4 against them in St. Louis and that could prove costly to playoff hopes.
For the eighth consecutive season and 19th out of 22, the Cardinals surely will win the season series from the Pirates. They have to win only one of the remaining six games to do that.
Before Friday night’s 4-0 shutout in which the Cardinals had 10 singles before a baffled Busch Stadium crowd, the Pirates, headed for their third consecutive last-place finish in the National League Central Division, had dropped 13 of their previous 14 games. In the most recent losing streak of five, they had been outscored 23-5. In the eight-game losing streak prior to that, the Pirates were
But, in the spirit of Cardinals Hall of Fame weekend when the late Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, both of whom died late in the 2020 season, are being honored, the Pirates had their own Gibson on Friday.
It wasn’t the 1.12 earned run average of Gibson’s 1968. Pirates righthander Mitch Keller has an ERA exactly half that, 0.56, against the Cardinals.
Counting his five scoreless innings on Friday, Keller has allowed one run and six hits to the Cardinals in 16 career innings, six of which were no-hit innings in September of last year in Pittsburgh. What is different in the stretch of any comparison to Gibson is the fact that Keller, 4-10 this season, hasn’t seemed to pitch very well against anyone else. His career ERA against teams not named the Cardinals is 6.81 for two seasons.
“I don’t know what he does when he doesn’t pitch against us,” said Cardinals manager
Gibson threw the only no-hitter of his career against the Pirates 50 years and one week ago. He had a 27-16 career mark and 2.68 ERA
Brock hit .294 for his career against the Pirates and had his second most hits against them at 340, two behind his total against the Chicago Cubs. He stole 95 of his National League record total of 938 off Pittsburgh.
But, despite the exploits of those two, the Pirates had more winning seasons (six) against the Cardinals than the Cardinals had (four) in the 11 full seasons the two Hall of Famers played together here from 1965-75.
The difference between the Pirates now and then is that then the Pirates were a much better team. While the Cardinals won National League titles in 1964, 1967 and 1968, once the league went to two divisions, the Pirates dominated from 1970-75, capturing five National League Eastern Division titles out of six.
The late 20th century Pirates and those of the 21st century haven’t won a division title in 28 seasons, which is about
to become 29.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, set a more dubious mark. They became the first major league to be shut out this season when compiling 10 or more hits.