Weekend Preview: The Reds

Current record: 11-14, 3rd place in NL Central, 5 games back

Up Next: Cincinnati Reds, 12-12, 2nd place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

The Reds pitching has been pretty bad so far and the offense has been all Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. If the Pirates can keep those two in check and keep hitting like they have the last few games then they should win the series. A sweep would have the Bucs in second place on Monday.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Johnny Cueto (3-0, 32.1 IP, 22 K, 1.39 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-1, 22.1 IP, 9 K, 2.42 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)

Saturday: RH Mike Leake (0-3, 21.2 IP, 9 K, 6.65 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
vs. LH James McDonald (1-1, 30.1 IP, 24 K, 2.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)

Sunday: RH Mat Latos (1-2, 28.2 IP, 18 K, 5.97 ERA, 1.57 WHIP)
vs. RH Charlie Morton (1-2, 21.1 IP, 15 K, 4.22 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

No lineup available yet.

Update 4pmLineups just posted, thanks to Kristy Robinson of Pirates Prospects. Pedro moves up to the 5th spot. Looks like Andrew McCutchen is still feeling sick.

Jose Tabata RF
Alex Presley LF
Nate McLouth CF
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Garrett Jones 1B
Clint Barmes SS
Rod Barajas C
Kevin Correia P

vs.

Zack Cozart SS
Drew Stubbs CF
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Scott Rolen 3B
Chris Heisey LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Johnny Cueto P

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.

Sunday 4/22 Pregame

Gametime: 1:35

St. Louis, 10-5, 1st place in Central
Pittsburgh, 6-8,  3rd place in Central

Pitchers:
Kyle Lohse: 2-0 (3 starts), 0.89 ERA, 20 IP, 11 SO, 10 H, 2 BB
Erik Bedard:  0-3 (3 starts), 2.65 ERA, 17 IP, 10 SO, 17 H, 6 BB

The Pirates have scored only 29 runs, last in the NL. Next on the list is Philadelphia at 42 and Cincinnati with 49.

However, the Bucs have only allowed 39 runs all year, best in the NL. Next is Philadelphia at 40, with Washington and St. Louis tied at 45.

Today’s Lineup:
Nate McLouth LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Michael McKenry C
Erik Bedard P

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.

Karstens to DL, Lincoln called up

Jeff Karstens lasted just one inning in last night’s 5-4 win over Arizona. Today he was placed on the 15-day DL with what was called “shoulder inflamation” last night. Brad Lincoln has been called up from AAA.

The bullpen was used extensively last night due to Karstens’ short outing so look for Lincoln to get some work in this afternoon’s rubber match (3:40 start). A.J. Burnett is scheduled to make one more rehab start in the minors before he is activated, but this injury could change that. Expect either Lincoln or Burnett to take Karstens’ turn on Sunday.

Quick Note: Be sure to send well wishes and prayers to Pirates Prospects’ Kristy Robinson, who was in a bad car accident yesterday. Get well soon, Kristy!

Update: Today’s lineup was just tweeted:
Presley 7
Barmes 6
McCutchen 8
Walker 4
McGehee 3
Jones 9
Alvarez 5
McKenry 2
McDonald 1

Clint Barmes batting second? Ugh. Jose Tabata is sitting for the second day in a row. No word of any injury there.

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