May 11: Cardinals (18-19) @ Pirates (16-20)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

wpid-0511141658a.jpgThe Cardinals close out this nine-game road trip with one more game in Pittsburgh, where the team has lost two straight. The club can’t finish this road trip with a winning record but can boost its season record back to .500 by salvaging one game here at PNC Park. The Cardinals are at risk of falling two games below .500 for the first time this season.

Jon Jay gets the start in center, partially as a nod to his career numbers (8-for-16) against starter Charlie Morton and also to give Peter Bourjos an extra day to heal. Bourjos took a spike to his right forearm breaking up a double play on Saturday and also ran hard into the centerfield wall to make this spectacular catch. He insists he’s fine today, but manager Mike Matheny wanted to give him a day to rest.

Actor/St. Louis native/Mizzou alum/Cardinals fan Jon Hamm has been in Pittsburgh today, plugging his upcoming film, Million Dollar Arm. That, along with this being the first Sunday night game in PNC Park history, has drawn all sorts of Pittsburgh media outlets out to the ballpark.

As for the Cardinals, Matheny made it clear that he is none too pleased with how often his club has been selected by ESPN to appear on its Sunday night telecast. He believes that the frequency of the Cardinals’ appearances (ESPN can choose a club up to six times a season) is a competitive disadvantage because of the overnight travel that then follows.

The Cardinals played in Chicago last Sunday night and weren’t getting to bed in Atlanta until after 4 am ET. They then had a Monday game to play against the Braves. The Cardinals will have a similar situation tonight (flying home, playing the Cubs tomorrow night) and again in two weeks when the Cardinals have a Sunday night game in Cincinnati and then an afternoon game the following day at home.

Here is an excerpt of Matheny’s pointed comments. Visit cardinals.com later tonight for more of his reaction…

“That’s the answer that they keep giving us is that we should be grateful [to be chosen]. But I have to tell you, there is no gratitude for this. I understand for the good of the game, but there is no benefit for us. Our fan base is going to be able to pick up our games on TV. This isn’t like back in the day where if you get coverage from them it’s the only time people are going to get to see you. People all over the world are picking up our games.

“It is a compliment that they want to see us on the national scene. I don’t think it’s taken into consideration at all that it makes it harder for us. You get in at four o’clock in the morning, and the next day, if they tell you that playing the next day that’s not going to affect you, I’d say they’re wrong. I’m not looking for excuses, but it’s happened to us. It happened to us last year, and we played through it. You start watching guys getting run down.

“I think a little more consideration needs to be given to the fact that it beats a team up. I’d like to see the scheduling allow for something that maybe only happens if you have an off day the next day, where you can catch up and are not just thrown back into the saddle. I know that’s hard to do, but that reply that ‘consider yourself lucky’ doesn’t mean anything to us. Our job is to win games, and I feel this is something that affects us one way or another.”

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