Weekend Preview: The Braves

Sorry for not posting after Wednesday’s game 2. I needed to unplug for a bit but I’m back, refreshed and ready for a packed weekend.

For one inning, the bats finally came alive. Fortunately, that was enough. A five-spot in the fifth gave the Bucs all they would need to beat the Rockies, split the doubleheader and take the series. Props go to Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez for back-to-back homers. A big assist goes out to Rockies’ LF Carlos Gonzalez who twice lost balls in the sun before switching to a pair of flip-down shades.

Current record: 8-10, 4th place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

Up Next: Atlanta Braves, 12-7, 2nd place in NL East, 2 games back

I will be LIVE at all four games this series, since its my one chance to see the Pirates this season without travelling. If you’ll be there too then let me know and we can meet up. Last year all four games went long – two rain delays and two extra inning tilts – including the 19 inning Jerry Meals affair.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Tommy Hanson (2-2, 24 IP, 23 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (1-0, 7 IP, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP)

Saturday: RH Randall Delgado (2-1, 15.2 IP, 17 K, 5.74 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (0-4, 24 IP, 17 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Sunday: RH Tim Hudson (2012 debut)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-0, 18 IP, 9 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP)

Monday: LH Mike Minor (2-1, 26.1 IP, 21 K, 3.42 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (0-1, 22.2 IP, 14 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

No lineup available yet, but here’s my guess:

Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Rod Barajas C
A.J. Burnett P

There’s a decent chance that Nate McLouth starts two games this series. See you at the Park.

Update: The lineup is in and I was way off. I thought Clint Hurdle would go with the “normal” order due to yesterday’s off day. Actual Lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Clint Barmes SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Rod Barajas C
A.J. Burnett P

No No-Hitter, No Win

James McDonald was, as they say, on. The Pirates’ offense was, as usual, off.

McDonald rolled through seven strong, taking a no-hitter into the 7th. His final line of 7 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 1 ER, 8 K would be good enough to win on almost any day. But not this day; not for a team that has scored only 36 times in 17 games.

It started early. Alex Presley extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single, but was caught stealing two batters later making Andrew McCutchen‘s double for naught. Every Pirates starter had exactly one hit, but baserunning mistakes kept them from putting them together for runs. Luckily Pedro Alvarez was able to put one over the fence and avoid the shutout.

Game two starting soon, as the Pirates try to win the series.

Lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Nate McLouth RF
Andrew McCutchen 8CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Yamaico Navarro 42B
Clint Barmes 6SS
Rod Barajas C
Charlie Morton P

Daytime Double Header.

The Pirates came back twice last night to beat Jamie Moyer and the Rockies 5-4. As a whole, the team was 11/33 with five walks and only three strikeouts. Today they’ll play two to make up for Monday’s postponement.

Game one lineups:

Pirates
Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Michael McKenry C
James McDonald P (0-1, 3 GS, 15.2 IP, 6 K, 1.21 WHIP, 3.45 ERA)

Rockies
Marco Scutaro 2B
Tyler Colvin CF
Carlos Gonzalez LF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Jason Giambi 1B
Michael Cuddyer  RF
Wilin Rosario C
Chris Nelson 3B
Juan Nicasio P (1-0, 3 GS, 16 IP, 12 K, 1.44 WHIP, 6.19 ERA)

Game 2:
Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 3 GS, 15 IP, 14 K, 1.40 WHIP, 4.80 ERA)
Charlie Morton  (0-1, 2 GS, 10 IP, 8 K, 1.40 WHIP, 3.60 ERA)

A new rule this year allows teams to call up an extra player for doubleheaders. Jared Hughes has been recalled from AAA to fill this role. He’ll be returned to the minors tomorrow.

Cardinals On Deck

The Pirates emerged from their nine game west coast trip with a 5-7 record; good for third place in the Central and a game better than I feared they would be after all the tough pitchers they’ve faced so far this year. This weekend, the first place (and Albert Pujols-less) Cardinals bring their 9-4 record to Pittsburgh for a three game set.

Pitching matchups:
Friday: Lance Lynn (2-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
Saturday: Jake Westbrook (2-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Sunday: Kyle Lohse (2-0, 0.89 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (0-3, 2.65 ERA)

Lance Berkman will miss the series with an injury and Jon Jay was recently injured as well. The real key for the Pirates will be, as always, trying to score some runs against pitchers who have been very effective this season. Hopefully a little home cooking will help.

Tonight’s lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Rod Barajas C
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Charlie Morton P

I’d rather see Casey McGehee at 3B, but Pedro’s gotta play to get better I guess.

Weekend Wrapup

Weekend scores:
Thursday: 1-0 Loss vs Philadelphia. Boxscore.
Saturday: 2-1 Win vs Philadelphia. Boxscore.
Sunday: 5-4 Win vs Philadelphia. Boxscore.

Season Record: 2-1, tied for 2nd in the Central.

Pretty easy to do the combined box this week, since it’s just the season totals.

Player Pos     G      AB      R      H   RBI    BB    SO      AVG
Tabata, J LF 3 14 0 3 0 0 1 0.214
Presley, A LF 3 13 0 4 2 0 2 0.308
McCutchen, A CF 3 11 1 4 1 1 2 0.364
Walker, N 2B 3 10 0 1 0 1 1 0.100
Barmes, C SS 3 9 0 0 0 0 2 0.000
Barajas, R C 2 7 0 1 0 0 2 0.143
McGehee, C 3B 2 6 1 2 1 0 0 0.333
Alvarez, P 3B 2 6 2 1 1 0 3 0.167
Jones, G 1B 2 6 0 0 0 0 1 0.000
Hague, M 1B 2 4 0 1 1 0 0 0.250
McKenry, M C 2 4 1 1 0 0 1 0.250
McDonald, J P 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 0.000
Bedard, E P 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0.000
Harrison, J 3B 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 1.000
McLouth, N LF 3 1 0 0 0 1 1 0.000
Karstens, J P 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0.000
Navarro, Y 3B 2 0 1 0 0 2 0         —
97 7 19 6 5 20 0.196

Batting:
Doubles: McGehee 2 (2), McCutchen (1), Barajas (1), Harrison (1)
Homers: Alvarez (1)

Baserunning:
SB: McCutchen 2 (2), Tabata (1), Presley (1)

Fielding:
Errors: McGehee (1), Alvarez (1), Walker (1)
DP: 4 (Barmes-Walker-Jones, Alvarez-Walker-Jones, Barmes-Walker Hague, McDonald-Barmes-Jones)

Player G GS IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA GF TBF NP
Bedard (L, 0-1) 1 1 7.0 6 1 1 1 4 0 1.29 0 26 81
Karstens 1 1 6.0 5 1 1 1 2 0 1.50 0 23 85
McDonald 1 1 6.0 4 2 2 2 3 1 3.00 0 23 82
Cruz (W, 1-0) 2 0 2.0 3 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 2 9 33
Hanrahan (W, 1-0) 2 0 2.0 0 0 0 2 4 0 0.00 1 8 39
Grilli 1 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0 4 21
Hughes 1 0 1.0 1 2 0 2 1 0 0.00 0 7 30
Meek 1 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0 3 17
Resop 1 0 1.0 1 0 0 1 2 0 0.00 0 5 18
Watson 1 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0 3 12


Good:
Three solid starts from Erik Bedard, Jeff Karstens and James McDonald. Pedro Alvarez getting hold of one. Matt Hague‘s first major league hit and RBI.
Exciting: Two late inning comebacks  and walk-off hits from Alex Presley and Andrew McCutchen.
Bad: The bats, but Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee can do that to any team.

Transactions: Traded Brian Tallet to San Diego for a PTBNL or cash. A quick trade tree for this one:

Up Next:

Today: Off
Tuesday: 4:10p at Los Angeles Dodgers (Probable pitchers: Kevin Correia vs Clayton Kershaw)
Wednesday: 10:10p at Los Angeles Dodgers (Erik Bedard vs Chad Billingsley)
Thursday: 10:10p at Los Angeles Dodgers (Jeff Karstens vs TBA)

2012 Opening Day Roster with Trade Tree

The Pirates made their final roster moves yesterday, putting Chris Leroux, Charlie Morton and A.J. Burnett on the Disabled List and adding Juan Cruz to the 40-man roster. Here’s the to current roster for today’s 1:35 game vs. the Phillies.

LINEUP

LF Alex Presley
RF Jose Tabata
CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Neil Walker
1B Garrett Jones
C   Rod Barajas
3B Pedro Alvarez
SS Clint Barmes

BENCH

C Michael McKenry
IF Matt Hague
IF Josh Harrison
IF Casey McGehee
IF Yamaico Navarro
OF Nate McLouth

STARTING PITCHERS

Erik Bedard
Jeff Karstens
James McDonald
Kevin Correia

BULLPEN

Juan Cruz
Jason Grilli
Joel Hanrahan
Jared Hughes
Evan Meek
Chris Resop
Tony Watson

DISABLED LIST

A.J. Burnett (15 day)
Charlie Morton (15 day)
Gustavo Nunez (60 day)
Chris Leroux (60 day)

In honor of the best day of the year, I updated last year’s Whole Team Trade Tree to show how this current squad was built. (Click to embiggen.) Now play ball!

Spring Training 2012: Thursday 3/22 Recap

The Pirates played a sloppy game and lost 8-6 to the Rays. Pirates Prospects has the down and dirty. MLB.com has the box score.

Good: Yamaico Navarro went 3-4 with a HR and 3 RBI and looked pretty good in the field. Nate McLouth and Alex Presley pulled off a nice double steal.

Up and Down: Rod Barajas hit a solo homer but was easily thrown out at second earlier in the game when he hit a high fly off the left field wall. Matt Hague was 1-1 after his pop-up to short was obscured by a flock of seagulls crossing from the right field grandstand to the left field grandstand.

Bad: Pedro Alvarez. Oh, Pedro. 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. He also had a foul ball go off his glove. It was a tough play, but it just looks like the confidence isn’t there.

After the game, Clint Hurdle names Erik Bedard as the opening day starter.

Some pics from today:

Lineups

Players warm up under a beautiful sky.

Karstens makes a face while warming up...

...to Rod Barajas

Cutch is good people.

Taking the field

Gearhard line: One beer, one Pepsi, one sausage.

Dinner at Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus, featuring a wonderful Oktoberfest brew.

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