The Pittsburgh Pirates took a 2-1 series lead in the National League Division Series on Sunday at PNC Park with a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates have a chance to finish of the red birds on Monday afternoon when Charlie Morton takes the mound.
The raucous sold-out PNC Park crowd was once again behind their team as they edged the Cardinals, but will the fans be enough to help Morton get by St. Louis?
St. Louis was reluctant to give Shelby Miller the ball in their rotation for the division round series between the two teams due to Miller’s 0-4 record against the Bucs. However, the Pirates were not the least bit hesitant to give Morton the ball for Game 4 on Monday.
The right-hander has lost six straight decisions to the Cardinals and Morton is 2-9 with a 6.52 ERA against them in his career. This season has not been much different as he has surrendered 12 runs in 14 2/3 innings.
In his most recent outing against them in St. Louis on Sept. 8, he was touched for five runs in 1 2/3 innings and left after suffering an injury to his left foot while backing up a base.
“Anybody would like to believe that from failure you take something from it. . . whether it’s a season or it’s a span of starts or it’s one start,” Morton said. ” So there are things that I’m going to take from it and I’m going to learn from, but I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, because I had a couple of bad games against them. I have to be really careful about being too critical about certain things, because I think you lose the ability to be objective.”
Morton returned to the Pirates lineup in June after having Tommy Johns surgery last June.
“I’m not sure if my arm is necessarily stronger,” said Morton. “I feel like I’m headed towards normalcy again.”
The 29-year-old is having his best season with the Pirates, living up to expectations. This season Morton is 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA.
In his last start, Morton did not have his best stuff against the Cincinnati Reds, but in his two prior starts the right-hander was virtually unhittable.
Morton is known as a ground ball pitcher. He throws a mean sinker and produces a lot of groundouts.
“In the future, I would like to be able to have a pitch or develop something where I could be more effective against lefties,” said Morton.
Morton struggles against lefties. They bat .314 against him.
Carlos Beltran is 6 for 15 off Morton, Jon Jay is 8 for 16, Yadier Molina is 8 for 19 and Matt Holliday is 8 for 25. The Cardinals, however, do not feel they have a secret formula for hitting Morton.
“We put together a game plan,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We take our successes and failures and learn from them from each individual pitcher and try to put a plan together to give us success for the next time.”
Despite his struggles, the Pirates believe in Morton. Hopefully the wild Pirates fans can help cheer Morton to a different fate against the red birds.
His electric stuff may be just what the Pirates need to put the Cardinals away.
Morton will face Michael Wacha on Monday at 3 p.m. on TBS.