Wade LeBlanc, Cardinals try to complete three-game sweep of Pirates

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At the pace they are going, the Pittsburgh Pirates could be expected to rack up, um, three hits Thursday in their series finale against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s basic math. The Pirates got one hit, a homer, Tuesday against four pitchers in a 4-1 loss. They got two hits, both singles, Wednesday as Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright tossed a brilliant complete-game shutout for a 4-0 win.

Wainwright explained his gem simply as “fastball command was the key,” but Pittsburgh was left looking for answers after getting as many hits off Wainwright as he had against the Pirates Wednesday.

Pittsburgh has lost seven straight while giving a handful of young and new players chances, as struggling teams that are rebuilding often do this time of year.

But the Pirates need to find some offense after totaling just six runs over their past five games.

“I don’t think we’ll be reactionary, but … we have to look everywhere,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We have to be open to our group in (Triple-A Indianapolis). We have to be open to people on the waiver wire. And some of our guys here are going to continue to get opportunities. But we have to be open to everything.”

In terms of who might look to continue the dominance against the Pirates hitters Thursday, it turns out Pittsburgh won’t have to face ace Jack Flaherty this series.

St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said Sunday that the right-hander would be ready to return during the Pirates series after missing more two months because of an oblique injury. However, the Cardinals have opted to hold Flaherty until Friday in their series opener against Kansas City — but not because of a setback in his progress with pitching.

“We decided it would make some sense in his hitting progression not to feel like we’ve got to rush it, not put him in a compromising spot,” Shildt said. “So we just backed him a day to get him in the American League setting so we have a DH.”

Instead, St. Louis left-hander Wade LeBlanc (0-2, 4.02 ERA) is expected to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (4-11, 4.95 ERA) in the series finale Thursday.

LeBlanc, whose last win was July 26, 2020, when he was with Baltimore, will be making his ninth start of the season. In five career games – three starts — against the Pirates, LeBlanc is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA.

He is coming off a tough-luck no-decision last Thursday, when he pitched a season-high six innings, giving up two runs and three hits, and left with a lead before the St. Louis bullpen imploded in what became an 8-4 loss to Atlanta.

Brubaker has lost seven straight decisions, with his most recent victory dating to May 29.

Friday at Cincinnati, he got rocked for nine runs, eight of them earned, in five innings. He got in a jam in the first and started working quickly, eventually giving up seven runs that inning.

“It was just, ‘What can I do to execute and get out of this inning as quick as possible?'” Brubaker said. “That’s what sped me up.”

Brubaker hasn’t had great success against St. Louis. He is 0-3 with a 5.30 ERA in four career games (three starts), with all three decisions coming this season.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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