Series Preview: The Orioles

Current record: 32-27, 1st place tie in NL Central, 0.0 games ahead

Up Next: Baltimore Orioles, 34-26, 3rd place in AL East, 1.0 game back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: The Orioles have been the surprise team of the AL this season, having spent 53 days in first place of the tough AL East. Like the Pirates, the O’s are finding their success despite having been outscored on the season 263-267. Also like the Pirates, they have a young All-Star center fielder leading the way. Adam Jones is hitting .298/.344/.571 with 17 home runs, 37 RBI and 9 steals. Anchoring the team behind the plate is a name all too familiar to Pirate fans: Matt Wieters. The Georgia Tech product has become one of the best catchers in the majors; just as it was thought he would back in 2007. Former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield passed on taking Wieters with the 4th pick, which is a big reason he is now the former GM.

Familiar Faces: Ronny Paulino, Steve Pearce, Dana Eveland

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: RH Brad Lincoln (3-1, 30.0 IP, 31 K, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
vs. LH Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 67.0 IP, 51 K, 3.49 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

The Bucs face Chens in back to back starts for what has to be the first time in their history. Wei-Yin (no relation to Bruce) has been a major addition for the O’s this season. Jeff Karstens strained his hip flexor in his last rehab start, so Lincoln will get at least one more turn.

Wednesday: RH Kevin Correia (2-5, 63.0 IP, 24 K, 4.29 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
vs. LH Brian Matusz (5-6, 65.1 IP, 50 K, 4.82 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)

Thursday: LH Erik Bedard (4-6, 62.2 IP, 61 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
vs. RH Tommy Hunter (2-3, 65.0 IP, 33 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)

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

Presley Optioned, Meek Recalled

In a surprising move, OF Alex Presley was just optioned down to AAA. RHP Evan Meek has been recalled from AAA to take his place on the roster. Presley has been struggling at the plate and has spent much of the past week on the bench. The Pirates likely feel that some time in the minors may help him regain the form that got him to the majors last year.

The main impetus of the move however, is likely the need for another pitcher. The pitching staff has been taxed lately — going extra innings on Sunday, having Brad Lincoln fill in for Eric Bedard on Monday, and Kevin Correia not getting out of the fourth inning last night. The Pirates don’t have another off day until Thursday the 24th. I’d expect a bat to be brought up for this weekend’s Interleague series against Detroit.

Series Preview: The Marlins

Current record: 16-18, 3rd place in NL Central, 4 games back

Up Next: Miami Marlins, 18-16, 4th place in NL East, 7.5 games back

The Pirates head down to Miami for a quick two game set against the newly orange-clad Marlins. The Fish have an 85 OPS+ and 117 ERA+ which means that the pitchers have been doing more than the bats to help the team win. For comparison, the Pirates are at 72 and 117. Marlins Stadium has been a hitters park thus far in its short history. Miami is scoring 4.5 runs and allowing 4.64 at home, vs 3.25 and 3.15 on the road. The Marlins spent a ton of money to bring in free agents Jose Reyes (started slow, heating up), Mark Buehrle (as good as expected), and Heath Bell (already removed from the closer role). Giancarlo Stanton (133 OPS+) and Omar Infante (153 OPS+) are leading the Marlins’ offense most nights.

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Brad Lincoln (2-0, 14.1 IP, 16 K, 0.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
vs. RH Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 40.1 IP, 46 K, 2.01 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)

Lincoln fills in tonight for what would have been Erik Bedard‘s turn. Bedard will go on Wednesday. Sanchez is pitching like an ace this year and strikes out a ton of batters. The pitching will have to keep things close (again) for the Pirates to have a shot tonight.

Tuesday: RH Kevin Correia (1-3, 36.1 IP, 13 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
vs. RH Josh Johnson (0-3, 38.1 IP, 32 K, 5.87 ERA, 1.70 WHIP)

Correia hopes to continue getting  good results from his smoke-and-mirrors show. Johnson has yet to regain his Cy Young candidate form after injuring his shoulder last year but he still strikes out a lot of hitters.

Lineups:
Jose Tabata RF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Alex Presley LF
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
Brad Lincoln P

Marlins
Jose Reyes SS
Omar Infante 2B
Hanley Ramirez 3B
Logan Morrison LF
Giancarlo Stanton RF
Gaby Sanchez 1B
Emilio Bonifacio CF
John Buck C
Anibal Sanchez P

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.
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