Series Preview: The Cardinals

Current record: 40-35, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 game back

Up Next: St. Louis Cardinals, 40-36, 3rd place in NL Central, 1.5 games back

Season Series: 2-4

Notes: Even with Lance Berkman on the DL, the Cardinals have plenty of big bats. Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig all sport an OPS+ of 141 or better. St. Louis’ +69 run differential is the best in the league and second best in the majors. The Bucs are ninth at -6. Lance Lynn has been outstanding this season, but allowed 11 ER in his last two starts.

Familiar Faces: None

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Kevin Correia (3-6, 80.1 IP, 31 K, 4.03 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
vs. RH Adam Wainwright (6-7, 91.2 IP, 84 K, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)

Saturday: RH Jeff Karstens (0-2, 17.0 IP, 9 K, 6.35 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)
vs. RH Lance Lynn (10-3, 92.0 IP, 92 K, 3.23 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

Sunday: LH Erik Bedard (4-8, 78.0 IP, 72 K, 4.27 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Jake Westbrook (6-6, 93.0 IP, 59 K, 3.77 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

No lineups yet.

Roster Moves

A few late breaking roster moves before today’s game:

RHP Bryan Morris has been recalled from AAA. IF Jordy Mercer was optioned back down. Makes sense to send down Mercer since he hasn’t been playing at all. Morris is the last player left from the Jason Bay trade. He’ll be an extra arm in the bullpen.

IF Drew Sutton was claimed off of waivers. He’ll be the 25th man on the roster so Jordy Mercer can play every day in the minors. Sutton was part of the organization for about 24 hours last month when he was acquired from the Braves, then dealt to Tampa.

Dejan Kovacevic says that Morris is in town and available today, while Sutton will not arrive in time.

RHP Charlie Morton has been transferred to the 60-day DL to make space on the 40 man roster.

Today’s game starts at, well, now. Justin Verlander vs. Kevin Correia as the Pirates go for the sweep.

Series Preview: The Twins

Current record: 34-31, 2nd place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

Up Next: Minnesota Twins, 26-39, 5th place in AL Central, 8.0 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: Minnesota is having a really rough year. The pitching is giving up 5.4 runs per game, highest in the majors outside of Colorado. They can still put some runs up on the board, however. Trevor Plouffe is astonishingly the hottest hitter in the majors this month and is up to 14 homers on the year. Joe Mauer still hits like Joe Mauer when he’s in the lineup and not making shampoo commericals. Justin Morneau looked like he had recovered from his concussion in May but has slumped in June. Simply put, these are game the Bucs should win.

Familiar Faces: Ryan Doumit, Matt Capps

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: LH Scott Diamond (5-2, 50.2 IP, 29 K, 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (2-6, 69.0 IP, 25 K, 4.43 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

Diamond’s been the only bright spot on a horrible Twins staff this year. Correia hasn’t won at PNC since last June 22.

Wednesday: LH Francisco Liriano (1-7, 57.2 IP, 59 K, 6.24 ERA, 1.60 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (4-7, 66.0 IP, 62 K, 4.36 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

In four starts since moving back into the roatation, Liriano’s been okay: almost 6 IP per start and has lowered his ERA by over two runs. He still walks too many on most days, but if he’s on he could carve up this Pirates team. Bedard looks to bounce back from a rough outing.

Thursday: RH Liam Hendriks (0-3, 23.0 IP, 14 K, 7.83 ERA, 1.87 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (5-3, 81.1 IP, 78 K, 2.32 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)

The young Aussie will get plenty of chances to see if he can stick around with Minnesota out of the race already. JMac continues to build his resume for an All-Star bid.

No lineups yet.

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 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.

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.

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