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No one is pushing the ‘panic button’ yet, but the fact that the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants ended the weekend below .500 and in third place in the NL West is something of a surprise. The Giants had their hands full with the Atlanta Braves over the weekend and entered the new week on a 4 game losing streak. The Pirates are definitely improved over last year’s dismal team and are in fifth place in the NL Central but just two games out of first in the tightly contested division. Oddly the Pirates have played fairly well on the road (7-6) but have struggled on their home field at PNC Park with a 2-6 record.
Ironically, the Giants have suffered from the same home/away schizophrenia as the Pirates. San Francisco is 6-6 on the road but just 4-5 at AT&T Park. We expect both teams to improve at home as the series progresses, but as it relates to this series we’re thinking that Pittsburgh will have their hands full with the defending World Champions. As far as the Pirates are concerned, however, they have to be pleased with their road performance thus far and now just need to get the home field play up to speed.
Pittsburgh will start righthander Charlie Morton who is coming off his worst start of the season but has otherwise pitched very well. He’s currently 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA but that’s after a 10 hit, 6 ER outing at Florida. Heading into that game, he had a very impressive 1.64 ERA. He could have a good ‘bounce back’ game against the Giants, as San Francisco hasn’t been hitting the ball very well this year. San Francisco is currently #20 in team batting average with a .245 mark.
San Francisco will counter with righthander Matt Cain who , like Morton, is coming off his worst start of the season. Cain is 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA but that is after his last outing, a 9 hit 6 earned run loss at Colorado. Heading into that game at Coors Field he had sported an impressive 1.42 ERA. There’s every reason to expect that Cain will return to his solid form in this game—even the best pitchers struggle at Coors Field in Denver and the Pirates are ranked #23 in team batting average with a .236 figure.

Cain has been one of our favorite ‘play on’ pitchers for awhile now—he’s not the biggest name on the Giants’ star studded rotation which means he can usually be had at a reasonable price. Despite his lack of name recognition, when he’s on his game he’s as good as any right hander in baseball. For that reason we’ll back the Giants to get a strong outing from Cain and pick up a victory here.