Series Preview: The Giants

Current record: 46-36, 1st place in NL Central, 2.0 games ahead

Up Next: San Francisco Giants, 45-38, 2nd place in NL West, 1.5 games back

Season Series: 1-2

Notes: The last time the Pirates faced the Giants they scored eight runs in three games. Two months later the Bucs are playing like a totally different team. These three games will close out the season series with the Giants. The Pirates are lucky to miss All Star Matt Cain, who could start the game on Tuesday. If so, he’ll be joining teammates Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera.

Familiar Faces: Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez

Probable Pitchers
Friday: LH Barry Zito (6-6, 93.2 IP, 52 K, 3.84 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (4-9, 82.2 IP, 77 K, 4.57 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)

A battle of struggling lefties.

Saturday: RH Ryan Vogelsong (7-3, 103.2 IP, 72 K, 2.26 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (8-3, 103.0 IP, 90 K, 2.45 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)

Against all odds, Vogelsong has become a good, consistent pitcher late in his career. He’s held opponents to 2 ER runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts and never more than 4 ER allowed.

Sunday: TBA (3-9, 93.2 IP, 101 K, 6.08 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (9-2, 86.2 IP, 74 K, 3.74 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

This is Tim Lincecum‘s turn to pitch, but as of last night he hasn’t been announced as the starter. Last time out he allowed 7 ER in only 3.1 IP, so the Giants may be considering resting him. I listed his numbers above.

No lineups yet.

Series Preview: The Astros

Current record: 42-36, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 game back

Up Next: Houston Astros, 32-47, 6th place in NL Central, 11.5 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: The last time the Pirates faced the Astros both teams were 14-17 and tied
for 3rd place. Now the two teams are separated by 10.5 games in the standings.
Firstbaseman Carlos Lee just turned down a trade to the Dodgers. 2B Jose Altuve
was chosen as Houston’s lone representative for the All Star Game.

Familiar Faces: Chris Snyder, Brian Bixler

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Jordan Lyles (2-4, 51.0 IP, 30 K, 4.59 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (7-3, 96.0 IP, 86 K, 2.44 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)

Tuesday: RH Lucas Harrell (7-6, 97.2 IP, 56 K, 4.33 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (9-2, 81.2 IP, 69 K, 3.31 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Wednesday: LH Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 20.0 IP, 8 K, 1.35 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (4-6, 85.1 IP, 34 K, 4.32 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

Thursday: RH Bud Norris (5-5, 79.0 IP, 82 K, 4.90 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Jeff Karstens (1-2, 24.0 IP, 16 K, 5.25 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Pirates All-Stars: McCutchen and Hanrahan

MLB just announced the teams for the 2012 All Star Game in Kansas City. The Pirates representatives are OF Andrew McCutchen and closer Joel Hanrahan.

McCutchen is not just the best player on the Pirates, he’s one of the best players in the National League. Cutch is currently leading the team in R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, Avg, OBP and SLG. Whew, that’s a heavy load. Andrew has a chance to start the game since elected starter Matt Kemp will not play because of a hamstring injury.

Hanrahan has nailed down 20 saves this year on the back of a 2.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 10.5 K/9

Not being named to the team were starters James McDonald and A.J. Burnett. JMac is a real surprise. He has become the ace of the Pirates staff with a 2.44 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 8.1 K/9. Burnett’s numbers don’t stand out in the same way (3.31, 1.24, 7.6) but it was thought that his comeback story this year might help get him some votes. Both players could be named to the team if other players bow out due to injury or rest requirements.

Series Preview: The Phillies

Current record: 38-33, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 game back

Up Next: Philadelphia Phillies, 34-40, 5th place in NL East, 9.0 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: The Phillies are not the powerhouse team that has won the NL East for the past five seasons. 1B Ryan Howard has not played yet after rupturing his Achilles in last year’s playoffs. 2B Chase Utley has been out all year with chronic knee issues, but may make his season debut this week. Fill-in second baseman Freddy Galvis is out for the season with a back injury and was just hit with a 50 game PED suspension too. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay is out until at least late July with a strain in the back of his shoulder. Still, the Phils have a few dangerous bats in Hunter Pence (.271/.334/.458) and Carlos Ruiz (.351/.420/.569).

Familiar Faces: Ty Wigginton, Erik Kratz

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Jeff Karstens (0-1, 12.0 IP, 5 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Joe Blanton (6-6, 91.0 IP, 74 K, 5.04 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Karstens makes his return to the rotaion after missing over two months with shoulder and hip injuries.

Tuesday: LH Erik Bedard (4-7, 72.0 IP, 69 K, 4.13 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Vance Worley (3-4, 68.0 IP, 61 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Wednesday: RH James McDonald (6-3, 90.1 IP, 83 K, 2.19 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
vs. TBA

The Phillies played a doubleheader yesterday and haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday or Thursday yet. Both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels pitched on Sunday, so expect a spot start from a minor leaguer.

Thursday: RH A.J. Burnett (8-2, 75.0 IP, 62 K, 3.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
vs. TBA RH Kyle Kendrick (2-7, 67.0 IP, 46 K, 5.24 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)

Kendrick pitched on Saturday so he’s my best guess for this spot.

No lineups yet.

Indians Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 2-0 Loss at Cleveland. James McDonald did his part. Box score.
Saturday: 9-2 Win at Cleveland. Pedro wakes up with 2 HRs… Box score.
Sunday: 9-5 Win at Cleveland. …and follows up with 2 more. Box score.

Season Record: 34-31, 2nd place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

Notes: Any talk has to start with Pedro Alvarez flashing the talent we all know he has inside. Pedro knocked in half of the 18 runs the Pirates scored this weekend. Not to be overlooked in El Toro’s big show is Casey McGehee, who had five hits and five RBI of his own. A.J. Burnett came up big and stopped the losing streak even though he didn’t have his best stuff.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh   AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB     AVG     OBP
Presley, LF 15 2 2 2 0 3 6 0.133 0.133
McGehee, 1B 13 4 5 5 1 3 8 0.385 0.429
McCutchen, A, CF 13 1 4 0 1 2 6 0.308 0.357
Alvarez, 3B 11 4 5 9 2 1 3 0.455 0.538
Walker, 2B 10 3 4 0 3 4 0 0.400 0.571
Jones, G, DH, RF 10 3 2 1 2 2 6 0.200 0.333
Tabata, RF 8 0 2 0 2 2 5 0.250 0.400
Barmes, SS 8 0 0 0 1 4 4 0.000 0.111
Barajas, C 7 0 0 0 1 2 4 0.000 0.125
Hague, PH-DH 5 1 2 0 0 1 2 0.400 0.400
McKenry, C 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.000 0.250
Harrison, SS 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0.500 0.667
  Totals 105 18 27 17 14 26 44 0.257 0.355

Batting
Doubles (4): Walker (12), McCutchen (11), Alvarez (11), Tabata (12)
Home Runs (7): Alvarez 4 (12), McGehee (3), Presley 2 (5)

BaseRunning
SB: Walker 2 (7), Tabata (8)
CS: Harrison (2)

Fielding
Double Plays: (Presley-Barajas), (Walker-Barmes-McGehee), (Hughes-Barmes-McGehee

Pitching

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R   ER  BB  SO  HR    ERA   WHIP
Burnett, AJ(W, 7-2) 6.7 6 2 2 4 2 2 2.70 1.50
McDonald, J(L, 5-3) 6.0 3 1 1 2 5 0 1.50 0.83
Hughes, J(H, 5) 3.3 2 1 1 0 0 0 2.70 0.60
Lincoln 3.3 8 4 4 1 2 1 10.80 2.70
Watson(W, 4-0) 2.7 3 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 1.13
Grilli 1.7 0 1 1 2 3 0 5.40 1.20
Hanrahan 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 1.00
Slaten 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Cruz, J 0.3 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 3.00
  Totals 26.0 24 9 9 9 16 3 3.12 1.27

Transactions: none

Series Preview: The Indians

Current record: 32-31, 3rd place in NL Central, 4.0 games back

Up Next: Cleveland Indians, 33-30, 2nd place in AL Central, 1.0 game back

Season Series: 0-1, First time playing.

Notes: Like the Orioles, the Indians are over .500 despite a negative run differential. Like the Orioles, their pitching is weak and they need to out hit their opponent to win. Like the Orioles, they have one of the best young catchers in the game: Carlos Santana. Like the Orioles, they haven’t lost to the Pirates this season. Hopefully, the similarities end there and the Bucs can take the next two games.

Familiar Faces: None

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH James McDonald (2-6, 81.1 IP, 59 K, 4.76 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
vs. RH Justin Masterson (5-2, 67.0 IP, 51 K, 3.49 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

Saturday: RH A.J. Burnett (6-2, 62.1 IP, 56 K, 3.61 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
vs. RH Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 69.2 IP, 44 K, 4.91 ERA, 1.59 WHIP)

Sunday: RH Brad Lincoln (3-2, 34.1 IP, 34 K, 3.15 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
vs. RH Jeanmar Gomez (4-5, 63.0 IP, 31 K, 4.71 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)

Series Preview: The Royals

Current record: 29-27, 2nd place in NL Central, 2.0 games back

Up Next: Kansas City Royals, 24-31, 4th place in AL Central, 7.0 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: Interleague play is back for the next 15 games. For the Royals tonight, that means they lose the DH and their defense gets shifted around to keep their best hitters in the lineup. DH Billy Butler goes to first, 1B Eric Hosmer goes to RF, and RF Jeff Francoeur moves to CF. The Pirates have been playing well and should have no trouble with the weak Royals pitching.

Familiar Faces: Surpisingly, none.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Luke Hochevar (3-6, 57.0 IP, 46 K, 6.63 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (3-6, 55.2 IP, 56 K, 3.72 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)

Saturday: LH Vin Mazzaro (2-0, 12.0 IP, 5 K, 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (5-2, 71.1 IP, 71 K, 2.14 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)

Sunday: LH Bruce Chen (5-5, 70.0 IP, 48 K, 4.37 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (5-2, 55.0 IP, 50 K, 3.76 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)

Royals
Alex Gordon LF
Yuniesky Betancourt 2B
Billy Butler 1B
Mike Moustakas 3B
Jeff Francoeur CF
Eric Hosmer RF
Alcides Escobar SS
Humberto Quintero C
Luke Hochevar P

Alex Presley LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Jose Tabata RF
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
Erik Bedard P

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