MLB Predictions 2012: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds

The Pittsburgh Pirates (60-45) and Cincinnati Reds (65-41) will continue an important National League Central series on Saturday night at the Great American Ball Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds

The Pittsburgh Pirates are 15-2 on Saturdays during the 2012 MLB campaign

Pittsburgh will look to bounce back from a disappointing 3-0 setback against Cincinnati on Friday night, as the clubhouse should be fired up after watching All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen get nailed by a 101-mph fastball.  “It just pumped us up,” commented McCutchen after the game.  “That’s the feeling we’re going to take on the field Saturday.”  The Pirates have done their best work on this particular day, winning 15 of their 17 Saturday contests in 2012.  Pittsburgh is also 5-2 after getting shutout this season, while the “under” is 5-2 in those affairs.

Pirates starting pitcher James McDonald (10-5, 3.38 ERA) has suffered back-to-back defeats to the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, allowing 10 combined runs on 11 hits over 11 frames in those efforts.  The right-hander is 5-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 10 road outings, surrendering eight home runs in 55.1 innings.  In 10 career games (seven starts) versus the Reds, McDonald has registered a 5-1 record and 2.31 ERA, including a 2-0 mark and 0.63 ERA in two outings this year.

Cincinnati pushed its divisional lead over Pittsburgh to 4.5 games after last night’s victory, as the club remains red-hot since the All-Star break, winning 18 of 21 contests.  “The fans have to understand that if they do what they just did, we’re going to win a lot of ball games,” commented Reds pitcher Mat Latos about the current feeling around the city.  The Reds are expecting second baseman Brandon Phillips back in the lineup, after missing the last three games with a strained left calf.  Cincinnati is 16-9 as a home favorite of -125 to -150 this season.

Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake (4-7, 4.44 ERA) will look to bounce back from a 11-5 home loss to the San Diego Padres in his last start, allowing five runs and five hits over just 1.2 innings of work.  The right-hander is 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA in 11 home outings, surrendering 11 big flies in 56.2 combined frames.  In eight lifetime appearances versus the Pirates, Leake has walked away with a 1-3 record and 3.16 ERA.

Sports bettors will likely back the Pirates due to their 7-3 record following a loss, while the Reds are 2-6 in Leake’s last eight starts in this series.

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