Series Preview: The Giants

Current record: 46-36, 1st place in NL Central, 2.0 games ahead

Up Next: San Francisco Giants, 45-38, 2nd place in NL West, 1.5 games back

Season Series: 1-2

Notes: The last time the Pirates faced the Giants they scored eight runs in three games. Two months later the Bucs are playing like a totally different team. These three games will close out the season series with the Giants. The Pirates are lucky to miss All Star Matt Cain, who could start the game on Tuesday. If so, he’ll be joining teammates Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera.

Familiar Faces: Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez

Probable Pitchers
Friday: LH Barry Zito (6-6, 93.2 IP, 52 K, 3.84 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (4-9, 82.2 IP, 77 K, 4.57 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)

A battle of struggling lefties.

Saturday: RH Ryan Vogelsong (7-3, 103.2 IP, 72 K, 2.26 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (8-3, 103.0 IP, 90 K, 2.45 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)

Against all odds, Vogelsong has become a good, consistent pitcher late in his career. He’s held opponents to 2 ER runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts and never more than 4 ER allowed.

Sunday: TBA (3-9, 93.2 IP, 101 K, 6.08 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (9-2, 86.2 IP, 74 K, 3.74 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

This is Tim Lincecum‘s turn to pitch, but as of last night he hasn’t been announced as the starter. Last time out he allowed 7 ER in only 3.1 IP, so the Giants may be considering resting him. I listed his numbers above.

No lineups yet.

Weekend Wrap Up 4/15/12

Scores:
Friday: 5-0 Loss at San Francisco. Matt Cain dominates. Recap. Box score.
Saturday: 4-3 Loss at San Francisco. Close game falls apart in the ninth. Recap. Box score.
Sunday: 4-1 Win at San Francisco. Finally, a solid game. Recap. Box score.

Season Record: 3-6, 5th place in the NL Central.

Good: Another good start from Kevin Correia breaks the five game losing streak. Charlie Morton looks to be in good health in his season debut. Neil Walker with two two-hit days.
Bad: Two shaky outings from Joel Hanrahan. Chris Resop wasn’t sharp but the defense let him down. Jose Tabata went 0-9 and left 7 men on base.

Combined Box:

Pittsburgh      AB      R      H      RBI      BB      SO      LOB
Presley, LF 13 1 3 1 1 4 2
Walker, 2B 11 1 4 2 0 3 0
McCutchen, A, CF 11 2 2 0 1 1 2
McGehee, 1B 9 2 2 0 0 1 2
Tabata, RF 9 0 0 0 0 3 7
Jones, G, 1B, RF 7 1 2 1 0 4 0
Harrison, 3B, SS 7 0 1 1 0 0 3
Barmes, SS 7 0 1 0 0 1 3
Barajas, C 6 0 0 0 1 0 0
Alvarez, 3B 6 0 0 0 0 5 1
McDonald, J, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0
Navarro, PH 2 0 0 0 0 1 4
Correia, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 3
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0
McKenry, C 1 0 0 0 3 1 0
McLouth, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Hague, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 97 7 16 5 6 26 29

Batting:
Triples: Harrison (1)
Homers: Jones (1)

Baserunning:
SB: Tabata (2), Jones (1)
CS: McCutchen (2)

Fielding:
Errors: Morton (1), Barmes 2 (2)

Pittsburgh      IP      H      R      ER      BB      SO      HR
Correia(W, 1-0) 6.0 3 1 1 1 2 0
McDonald, J (L, 0-1) 5.7 6 3 3 3 1 0
Morton 5.0 7 3 3 0 2 0
Hanrahan(S, 1) 2.0 2 2 2 2 1 1
Grilli(H, 1) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3 0
Watson 1.3 1 0 0 0 0 0
Hughes, J(H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Cruz, J 1.0 0 0 0 2 1 0
Meek 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Resop (L, 0-1) 0.0 2 1 0 1 0 0
Totals 25.0 23 10 9 10 10 1

Transactions: Activated RHP Charlie Morton from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned 1B Matt Hague to AAA Indianapolis.

Up Next: A three game set in Arizona ends the road trip. Expected matchups: Erik Bedard (0-2) vs. Joe Saunders (0-0), Jeff Karstens (0-1) vs. Ian Kennedy (2-0), and James McDonald (0-1) vs. Daniel Hudson (1-0).

More Tough Matchups On The Horizon

The Pirates have scored 11 runs in six games. An average of 1.83 runs/game. The team batting average is .199. What do you expect when a team of average (at best) bats faces some of the best pitchers in the league? Here are the opponents’ starting pitchers for the Pirates’ first twelve games.

vs. Roy Halladay, 1-0 L

vs. Cliff Lee, 2-1 W
vs. Vance Worley, 5-4 W
vs. Clayton Kershaw, 2-1 L
vs. Chad Billingsley, 4-1 L
vs. Chris Capuano, 3-2 L
vs. Ian Kennedy
vs. Daniel Hudson (*not announced yet, my projection.)

And here are the results of last year’s NL Cy Young award voting (from baseball reference):

Rank Tm Vote Pts 1st Place Share WAR W L ERA SV IP ER BB SO WHIP
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD 207.0 27.0 92% 7.0 21 5 2.28 0 233.1 59 54 248 0.977
2 Roy Halladay PHI 133.0 4.0 59% 7.4 19 6 2.35 0 233.2 61 35 220 1.040
3 Cliff Lee PHI 90.0 0.0 40% 6.9 17 8 2.40 0 232.2 62 42 238 1.027
4 Ian Kennedy ARI 76.0 1.0 34% 5.5 21 4 2.88 0 222.0 71 55 198 1.086
5 Cole Hamels PHI 17.0 0.0 8% 5.4 14 9 2.79 0 216.0 67 44 194 0.986
6 Tim Lincecum SFG 7.0 0.0 3% 4.4 13 14 2.74 0 217.0 66 86 220 1.207
7 Yovani Gallardo MIL 5.0 0.0 2% 2.7 17 10 3.52 0 207.1 81 59 207 1.215
8 Matt Cain SFG 3.0 0.0 1% 3.9 12 11 2.88 0 221.2 71 63 179 1.083
9 John Axford MIL 2.0 0.0 1% 2.7 2 2 1.95 46 73.2 16 25 86 1.140
9 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2.0 0.0 1% 3.0 4 3 2.10 46 77.0 18 32 127 1.039
11 Madison Bumgarner SFG 1.0 0.0 0% 2.8 13 13 3.21 0 204.2 73 46 191 1.212
11 Ryan Vogelsong SFG 1.0 0.0 0% 3.7 13 7 2.71 0 179.2 54 61 139 1.252
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/11/2012.

The Pirates face six of the ten starting pitchers to get votes as the best pitcher in the National League last year. When does it get easier? Matt Cain‘s one of the best pitchers in the league, Daniel Hudson has nasty stuff. Ian Kennedy broke out in a big way. Last year Ryan Vogelsong struck out 8 in 5.2 innings against the Pirates in the first start of his comeback year. The much-maligned Barry Zito threw a complete game shutout in Colorado in his  last start. Joe Saunders threw seven shutout innings in his first start of the year.

Seriously, the Pirates could easilty be looking at a 4-8 record when this stretch is over. If they want to be better, then:

1) Their own pitching needs to keep up the good work. Allowing only 2.5 runs/game has kept the Pirates in every game so far.
2) The bats need to find a way to string some hits together. Also, take some more walks. You can be selective while still being aggressive. Seven walks in six games is woeful.

Let’s hope they pick it up this weekend in San Francisco. The Pirates starters are slated to be James McDonald, Charlie Morton (season debut) and Kevin Correia. I’ll see you Monday with the Weekend Wrapup.

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