A quiet St. Louis Cardinals offense, a 3-5 road trip that included losing three of four to the New York Mets (ouch), back to Busch Stadium to begin a six-game home stand with Shelby Miller facing the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Maybe, hopefully, tonight will be the time Miller manages to shut down the Pirates and find success. He's 0-5 in his career against the Pirates with a 5.93 ERA and has allowed 20 earned runs in 27 1/3 innings along with 9 home runs.
He started against them three weeks ago tonight and pitched 5 1/3 innings while giving up 5 runs on 6 hits (3 of those hits were homers) and walked 3 while only striking out 2.
The bright side — yes, there is one after all that — is the Pirates are struggling lately too. They are 9-14 at the moment and just completed a 2-6 home stand, losing 3 of 4 to both the Brewers and the Reds. (The Brewers still have the best record in MLB, by the way, at 16-6 and have a 4 1/2 game lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals.)
As a team, the Pirates are hitting .229/.301/.370 and have scored 90 runs in 23 games. In comparison, the Cardinals are hitting .243/.308/.348 and have scored 80 runs in their 23 games.
Miller has improved since his first start against the Pirates this season, although walks still are a problem — he gave up 5 bases on balls to the Nationals on Sunday and has 14 for the season in 22 2/3 innings to go with 21 strikeouts.
Here's hoping, though, tonight is an improvement for him. His career record at home is fantastic, with a 1.77 ERA and a 10-4 record. Let's focus on the positive, right?
Facing the Cardinals tonight is Gerrit Cole, who also faced off against Miller on April 4. He allowed 2 runs on a Matt Carpenter homer that game, along with 5 other hits in his 7 innings.
Game time is 7:15 p.m. Central.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles' Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don't already.