Series Preview: The Reds

Please forgive the lateness of this post. I hope you all enjoyed this Memorial Day weekend as much as I did. All numbers are from before Monday’s game. 

Current record: 23-24, 4th place in NL Central, 4.0 games back

Up Next: Cincinnati Reds, 27-20, 1st place in NL Central, 1.5 games ahead

Season Series: 1-2, Cutch was out with the flu and the Bucs only scored four runs in the three games.

Notes: The Reds are in first place, having won eight of their last nine games.

Familiar Faces: Ryan Ludwick, Bronson Arroyo,

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 58.2 IP, 44 K, 3.22 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (3-2, 57.2 IP, 58 K, 2.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)

Tuesday: RH Homer Bailey (3-3, 53.2 IP, 40 K, 4.19 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
vs. RH Charlie Morton (2-5, 46.1 IP, 25 K, 4.27 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Wednesday: RH Johnny Cueto (5-2, 64.0 IP, 41 K, 2.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (3-2, 43.0 IP, 39 K, 4.19 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)

Series Preview: The Cubs

Current record: 20-24, 4th place in NL Central, 5.0 games back

Up Next: Chicago Cubs, 15-29, 6th place in NL Central, 10.0 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: First baseman Bryan LaHair is making the most of his first chance at regular playing time. He leads the team with 10 HR and a 1.020 OPS. Speedster Tony Campana and his twelve stolen bases have taken over CF since Marlon Byrd was traded to Boston. Carlos Marmol was almost removed from the closer role before going on the DL with a hamstring strain. The Cubs top three catchers (Geovany Soto, Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo) are all hurt right now.

Familiar Faces: Paul Maholm

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Ryan Dempster (0-2, 47.1 IP, 44 K, 2.28 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (2-2, 37.2 IP, 33 K, 4.78 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

Dempster has pitched much better than his 0-2 record. He’s in line to be the Cubs’ All-Star and then traded at the deadline. The trade for A.J. Burnett keeps looking better and better.

Saturday: LH Paul Maholm (4-3, 45.2 IP, 27 K, 4.73 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-5, 46.0 IP, 16 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

In his first season for the Cubs, Maholm is pitching as well as he usually did for the Pirates. Correia’s WHIP is pretty good, but that’s the only stat of his that looks nice.

Sunday: RH Matt Garza (2-2, 48.1 IP, 43 K, 3.72 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (2-5, 46.0 IP, 48 K, 3.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)

Garza has also been the subject of trade rumors but he’s likely to be kept around unless someone gives the Cubs a real sweetheart deal. Bedard tries to right himself after two shaky starts since his back spasms.

No lineups yet.

Series Preview: The Tigers

Current record: 18-20, 3rd place in NL Central, 4.0 games back

Up Next: Detroit Tigers, 18-20, 2nd place in AL Central, 4.0 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: The Pirates head to Detroit for the start of Interleague play. Miguel CabreraPrince Fielder and Austin Jackson lead an offense that has scored 167 runs in 38 games, 4.39 per game. Fortunately, the pitching and defense has yielded 4.66 r/g. Curious to see who’ll be DHing for the Pirates this weekend.

Familiar Faces: Jim Leyland, Octavio Dotel and Don Kelly.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Charlie Morton (2-3, 33.1 IP, 20 K, 4.05 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
vs. Rh Justin Verlander (4-1, 58.1 IP, 56 K, 2.47 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)

Morton’s mechanical adjustments were very effective in his last start. Just when you thought the Pirates had already faced every good pitcher in the league, they face last year’s AL Cy Young award winner and MVP.

Saturday: RH A.J. Burnett (1-2, 31.2 IP, 31 K, 5.12 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
vs. LH Drew Smyly (1-0, 39.0 IP, 32 K, 2.31 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

Burnett’s been amazing, save the one awful start. Smyly is the Tigers’ hot young rookie.

Sunday: RH Kevin Correia (1-4, 40.0 IP, 14 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
vs. RH Max Scherzer (2-3, 41.2 IP, 48 K, 6.26 ERA, 1.73 WHIP)

Really hoping that Brad Lincoln gets this start instead of Correia. If not, then you have to imagine that Kevin will be on a very short leash. Even with nothing else going his way Scherzer still strikes out a bunch of guys. He’s the kind of pitcher that always
seems to right himself against the Bucs.

No lineups yet.

4:58 Update: Lineups:
Josh Harrison DH
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Garrett Jones RF
Casey McGehee 1B
Nate McLouth LF
Clint Barmes SS
Michael McKenry C

Tigers
Don Kelly CF
Andy Dirks LF
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Delmon Young DH
Alex Avila C
Brennan Boesch RF
Jhonny Peralta SS
Ryan Raburn 2B

Astros Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 1-0 Loss vs Houston. Great pitching, no clutch hitting. Box score.
Saturday: 5-2 Win vs Houston. Good team win. Box score.
Sunday: 3-2 Win vs Houston. Tie in the ninth, win in extras. Box score.

Season Record: 16-18, 3rd place in NL Central, 4 games back

Notes: With any offensive execution at all on Friday this could have been a sweep. It has become commonplace to say that the pitching is carrying the team, but four earned runs in three games is excellent for any team in any league. Big kudos to James McDonald, Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett and the entire bullpen. Two names carried the hitting: Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata. Both happen to be signed to long term deals. Neil Walker looks very nice in the two-hole. I think it suits his talents better than cleanup. Much-maligned Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes combined to go 5 for 14 (.294) this weekend. I used to love Nate McLouth, but I just don’t see what he has left as a hitter right now. Pinch hitting him for Casey McGehee in the ninth inning yesterday made no sense to me. Every position player got at least four at bats this weekend. The only players not used were Brad Lincoln, Kevin Correia and Erik Bedard, the next three starting pitchers.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh  AB  R    H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB    AVG     OBP
McCutchen, A, CF 12 1 5 2 1 3 4 0.417 0.462
Tabata, LF-RF 12 3 3 1 1 2 4 0.250 0.308
Walker, 2B 11 1 2 1 0 2 0 0.182 0.167
Alvarez, 3B 10 1 2 1 1 7 2 0.200 0.250
Barajas, C-1B 7 0 3 0 0 0 0 0.429 0.429
Barmes, SS 7 1 2 1 0 2 0 0.286 0.250
McLouth, LF 6 0 0 0 0 3 6 0.000 0.000
McGehee, 1B 5 1 0 0 3 2 3 0.000 0.375
Navarro, RF 5 0 0 0 0 1 5 0.000 0.000
Harrison, SS 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0.250 0.250
McKenry, C 4 0 0 0 1 0 1 0.000 0.200
Presley, PH-LF 4 0 0 0 0 2 4 0.000 0.000
Jones, G, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.000 0.000
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P, PH 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000
 Totals 97 8 18 7 7 29 32 0.186 0.234

Batting
Doubles (6): Barajas (4), Alvarez (5), Walker 2 (5), McCutchen, A (7), Barmes (8)
Triples (2): Tabata 2 (2)
HomeRuns (2): McCutchen, A (3), Tabata (2)

BaseRunning
SB: McCutchen, A (6), McGehee (1)
CS: McCutchen, A (3)
PO: Harrison

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez (8), Burnett (1)
Double Plays: (Alvarez-Walker-Jones), (Navarro-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker-McGehee), (McGehee-Harrison-Burnett), (McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ 8.0 6 2 2 0 4 0 2.25 0.750
McDonald, J (L, 2-2) 8.0 4 1 1 2 8 0 1.13 0.750
Morton (W, 2-3) 6.0 7 2 1 1 0 0 1.50 1.333
Watson (H, 3)(W, 3-0) 2.7 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.000
Cruz, J (S, 3) 2.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.500
Grilli 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 1.000
Hanrahan 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.00 1.000
Hughes, J 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.000
Resop (H, 3) 0.3 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 3.000
 Totals 30.0 19 5 4 5 16 0 1.20 0.800

 

Transaction: Activated Joel Hanrahan from the Bereavement List. Placed Daniel McCutchen on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain suffered in batting practice.

Sunday Notes

Late Friday night the Pirates acquired Jeff Larish from the Red Sox for cash considerations. Larish is a non-prospect at this point and will go to AAA, where the organization already has several 1B/DH types. Speculation around the internet seems to be that this move only makes since if one of Jake Fox or Matt Hague is going to be called up.

Erik Bedard has been scratched from Monday’s start. He had back spasms after one inning in his last start on Wednesday. Brad Lincoln will start Monday’s game and Bedard is no scheduled to go on Wednesday.

Heck of a game last night. The Pirates beat up on J.A. Happ like they should have and Charlie Morton was very effective after tweaking his sinker since his last start. The rubber game is today at 1:35pm, barring any rain delays.

Lineups:
Jose Tabata LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Yamaico Navarro RF
Rod Barajas C
Josh Harrison SS
A.J. Burnett P

Astros:
Jordan Schafer CF
Jed Lowrie SS
J.D. Martinez LF
Carlos Lee 1B
Brian Bogusevic RF
Chris Johnson 3B
Jason Castro C
Marwin Gonzalez 2B
Wandy Rodriguez P

Late update:

Pirates

RHP Joel Hanrahan reinstated from Bereavement List…RHP Daniel McCutchen on D.L. with left oblique strain; suffered in BP Saturday.

Series Preview: The Astros

Current record: 14-17, 3rd place (tie) in NL Central, 6.0 games back

Up Next: Houston Astros, 14-17, 3rd place (tie) in NL Central, 6.0 games back

The battle for 3rd place begins tonight! What, not exciting enough? Then tune in to see 22-yr old Jose Altuve, who’s really fast and has been the surprise best player on Houston. Old pals Brian Bixler and Chris Snyder plus one time almost-a-Pirate Brandon Lyon are in town too. This is the first of three times Houston comes to town before they switch to the American League next season.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Bud Norris (2-1, 37.1 IP, 33 K, 4.58 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (2-1, 36.2 IP, 31 K, 2.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)

Norris has the tools but has yet to acheive consistancy, something that was always said about McDonald before this season.

Saturday: LH J.A. Happ (2-2, 34.1 IP, 34 K, 5.24 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
vs. RH Charlie Morton (1-3, 27.1 IP, 20 K, 4.61 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

Morton is tinkering with his sinker, trying to get it to drop like it did last year when he was a ground ball machine. Despite how it’s written, Happ pronounces his name “Jay.”

Sunday: LH Wandy Rodriguez (3-3, 46.1 IP, 29 K, 2.14 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (1-2, 23.2 IP, 27 K, 6.08 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)

A matchup of each team’s ace, which usually means lots of runs will be scored.

Pirates Lineup: McLouth in for Alex Presley again. Looks to me like Clint Hurdle is playing the “hot” hand, since Presley has been slumping and Hurdle says he’s seen Nate make strides in his approach lately. Expect to see Casey McGehee play vs lefties the next two games.

Jose Tabata RF
Nate McLouth LF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
James McDonald P

Don’t forget to enter the ticket giveaway contest before the end of the first inning tonight!

Nationals Wrap Up

Scores:
Tuesday: 5-4 Win vs Washington. Burnett stellar, Barajas walk off HR. Box score.
Wednesday: 4-2 Win vs Washington. Cutch, bullpen great. Box score.
Thursday: 4-2 Loss vs Washington. Correia good but Strasburg rolls. Box score.

Season Record: 14-17, 3rd place (tie) in NL Central, 6.0 games back

Notes: Three very close games. A.J. Burnett shrugged off his blow up in St. Louis last week, looking every bit as good as he did in his first two starts. Andrew McCutchen (.667/.750/.1.333) played like one of the best players in the majors again after missing a few games due to the flu. McCutchen and Rod Barajas both got off the schneid, hitting their first homeruns of the season. Barajas did his in walk-off style. Erik Bedard had to leave his start due to back spasms. He is day-to-day for his next turn. The bullpen was excellent to pick up eight innings that game. The Pirates normally strike out a lot. Stephen Strasburg is a very good strikeout pitcher. Put those two things together and it means, unsurprisingly, that Strasburg K’s 13 in six innings. Kevin Correia was effective enough to keep the Bucs in the game.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh  AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB     AVG     OBP
Tabata, RF 12 2 3 0 0 1 1 0.250 0.250
Alvarez, 3B 11 0 0 0 1 4 9 0.000 0.083
Walker, 2B 10 0 3 3 1 2 0 0.300 0.333
McCutchen, A, CF 9 4 6 4 3 1 0 0.667 0.750
McGehee, 1B 9 0 1 1 0 1 3 0.111 0.111
Barajas, C 7 1 1 2 0 2 1 0.143 0.143
Jones, 1B, RF 7 1 1 1 0 3 4 0.143 0.143
Barmes, SS 7 0 0 0 0 4 0 0.000 0.000
Presley, LF 5 1 1 0 0 2 1 0.200 0.200
Navarro, LF 4 0 1 0 0 1 2 0.250 0.250
McKenry, C 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 0.333 0.333
Lincoln, P 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000
Correia, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Harrison, SS 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
McLouth, PH-LF 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0.000 0.500
Bedard, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0     —–     —–
 Totals 93 11 18 11 6 28 22 0.194 0.242

Batting
Doubles (2): Walker (3), McKenry (2)
HomeRuns (4): McCutchen, A 2 (2), Jones (4), Barajas (1)

BaseRunning
CS: Navarro (1)

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez (7), Barajas (2)
Double Plays: (Barmes-Walker-McGehee), (Alvarez-Walker-McGehee), (Walker-Barmes-Jones)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ 8.0 6 2 2 1 10 1 2.25 0.875
Correia(L, 1-3) 7.0 6 3 3 2 1 2 3.86 1.143
Lincoln(W, 2-0) 3.0 1 1 0 1 4 0 0.00 0.667
Hughes, J 2.0 1 0 0 1 4 0 0.00 1.000
Hanrahan(BS, 1)(S, 6) 1.7 3 2 2 0 2 1 10.80 1.800
Watson(W, 2-0) 1.3 2 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 1.500
Bedard 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.000
Grilli(H, 7) 1.0 1 0 0 2 2 0 0.00 3.000
Cruz, J(H, 5) 1.0 1 1 1 1 0 0 9.00 2.000
Resop 1.0 2 1 1 0 0 1 9.00 2.000
 Totals 27.0 23 10 9 8 26 5 3.00 1.148

Transactions: Joel Hanrahan was placed on the Bereavement List. Daniel McCutchen was recalled from AAA.

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