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 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

Series Preview: The Brewers

Current record: 25-25, 3rd place in NL Central, 3.0 games back

Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers, 23-28, 5th place in NL Central, 5.5 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: If the Pirates have had a nemesis the last few years it’s been the Brewers, especially in Miller Park. Milwaukee is a shell of last year’s division winner. Prince Fielder left for the Tigers and his replacement Mat Gamel is out for the year. Starting SS Alex Gonzalez has also been lost for the season and C Jonathan Lucroy just broke his hand and is out for a few weeks. Ryan Braun is stil on the team and slugging as well as ever.

Familiar Faces: Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Kevin Correia (1-5, 52.1 IP, 18 K, 4.30 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
vs. RH Randy Wolf (2-4, 55.0 IP, 30 K, 5.73 ERA, 1.67 WHIP)

Saturday: LH Erik Bedard (3-5, 52.0 IP, 51 K, 3.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
vs. RH Shaun Marcum (3-3, 62.0 IP, 58 K, 3.63 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

Sunday: RH James McDonald (4-2, 65.1 IP, 63 K, 2.20 ERA, 0.96 WHIP)
vs. RH Michael Fiers (1-0, 7.0 IP, 3 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Trade Tree: Matt Garza

Today’s mound opponent, Matt Garza, has been a key component of two major trades in his seven-year big league career. His stint in Minnesota was covered in last week’s Johan Santana Trade Tree, but Garza is starting for the Cubs today so let’s look at what the Cubs gave up for him.

Garza’s a good pitcher and it took a lot of talent for the Cubs to get him. Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee were top prospects then and still have plenty of shine left. In addition to that, Ray’s fans were also treated to The Legendary Sam Fuld era.

In summary, the Rays received Garza for Delmon Young, who has not panned out despite all of his talent, had Garza for his age 24-26 season, then as he got expensive spun him for a boatload of talent. The lesson? Beware deals with this Tampa Bay front office. They always seem to come out at least an extra 2% ahead.

Garza tries to help the Cubs avoid a sweep by the Pirates today at 1:35. Erik Bedard goes for the Bucs.

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.

Mets Wrap Up

Scores:
Monday: 5-4 Win vs NY Mets. Three late runs win it. Box score.
Tuesday: 3-2 Loss vs NY Mets. Can’t solve the knuckler. Box score.
Wednesday: 3-1 Loss vs NY Mets. Only 1 run for the 9th time. Box score.

Season Record: 20-24, 4th place in NL Central, 5.0 games back

Notes: Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison were pretty much the whole show this series. I have nothing else good to say about the offense at this time. In two starts since his back spasms, Erik Bedard‘s totals are 11 IP, 8 ER, 12 H, 4 BB and 11 K’s. He hadn’t given up more than 2 ER in any of six pre-injury outings. If his next start continues the current trend the team may want to skip Bedard when his turn comes up again. The bullpen was stellar, allowing only 1 ER, 4 H and 3 BB with 11 K in 8 IP.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh  AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB     AVG     OBP
Harrison, RF-SS 12 3 4 0 0 1 3 0.333 0.333
Walker, 2B 12 1 2 0 0 5 3 0.167 0.167
McCutchen, A, CF 11 1 4 4 0 3 5 0.364 0.333
Barmes, SS 8 1 3 1 1 1 4 0.375 0.400
Alvarez, 3B 8 1 2 1 0 2 5 0.250 0.250
Tabata, LF-RF 8 1 1 0 1 2 2 0.125 0.222
Barajas, C 8 0 1 0 0 4 2 0.125 0.125
McGehee, 1B 6 0 0 0 1 2 3 0.000 0.143
Jones, G, 1B 5 0 0 0 0 3 1 0.000 0.000
McKenry, C 4 1 1 2 0 2 3 0.250 0.250
Navarro, 3B 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 0.250 0.250
Hernandez, Go, LF 4 0 0 0 1 2 1 0.000 0.200
McDonald, J, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Bedard, P 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000
McLouth, LF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 96 9 20 8 4 31 34 0.208 0.235

Batting
Doubles (8): Harrison 3 (6), McCutchen, A (8), Alvarez (7), Walker (6), Barajas (6), Tabata (7)
Triples (1): Harrison (2)
HomeRuns (1): McKenry (3)

BaseRunning
SB: McCutchen (8)

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez (9)
Double Plays: (Barmes-Walker-McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R   ER  BB  SO  HR    ERA   WHIP
McDonald, J 7.0 4 1 1 2 8 0 1.29 0.86
Morton (L, 2-5) 7.0 8 3 3 0 1 0 3.86 1.14
Bedard 5.0 6 4 4 3 4 0 7.20 1.80
Resop 2.7 1 0 0 1 2 0 0.00 0.75
Grilli 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan (S, 10) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Lincoln 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Hughes, J (W, 1-0) 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 2.00
Watson 0.7 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Cruz, J (L, 1-1) 0.7 2 2 1 1 2 0 13.50 4.50
  Totals 27.0 22 10 9 8 24 0 3.00 1.11

Transactions: Traded Drew Sutton to Tampa Bay Rays for cash. Activated RHP Jason Grilli from the Bereavement List. Optioned LHP Jeff Locke to AAA.

Series Preview: The Mets

Current record: 19-22, 3rd place in NL Central, 3.0 games back

Up Next: New York Mets, 22-19, 4th place in NL East, 5.5 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: The Mets come to the ‘Burgh for the only time this season. New York features a decent offense and below average pitching staff. If the Pirates can get to the Mets’ bullpen early they stand a good chance to win some games.

Familiar Faces: Ronny Cedeno, Jason Bay (DL), Miguel Batista (DL).

Probable Pitchers
Monday: LH Johan Santana (1-2, 43.2 IP, 46 K, 2.89 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (2-5, 41.0 IP, 44 K, 3.07 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)

Santana has been very effective this year, but has not been able to go deep into games. Bedard’s numbers have been slowly creeping up after his stellar start.

Tuesday: RH R.A. Dickey (5-1, 50.1 IP, 40 K, 3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (3-2, 50.1 IP, 50 K, 2.68 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

Hopefully the knuckler won’t be knuckling, or the Pirates’ free-swing ways could doom them here. J-Mac took a no-no into the sixth inning in his last start.

Wednesday: LH Jon Niese (2-2, 42.2 IP, 39 K, 4.85 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
vs. RH Charlie Morton (2-4, 39.1 IP, 24 K, 4.35 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)

I have nothing to say about Jon Niese. Totally non-descript pitcher. I guess he’s lefthanded though. That’s something.

No lineups yet.

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