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

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.

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).

2012 Opening Day Roster with Trade Tree

The Pirates made their final roster moves yesterday, putting Chris Leroux, Charlie Morton and A.J. Burnett on the Disabled List and adding Juan Cruz to the 40-man roster. Here’s the to current roster for today’s 1:35 game vs. the Phillies.

LINEUP

LF Alex Presley
RF Jose Tabata
CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Neil Walker
1B Garrett Jones
C   Rod Barajas
3B Pedro Alvarez
SS Clint Barmes

BENCH

C Michael McKenry
IF Matt Hague
IF Josh Harrison
IF Casey McGehee
IF Yamaico Navarro
OF Nate McLouth

STARTING PITCHERS

Erik Bedard
Jeff Karstens
James McDonald
Kevin Correia

BULLPEN

Juan Cruz
Jason Grilli
Joel Hanrahan
Jared Hughes
Evan Meek
Chris Resop
Tony Watson

DISABLED LIST

A.J. Burnett (15 day)
Charlie Morton (15 day)
Gustavo Nunez (60 day)
Chris Leroux (60 day)

In honor of the best day of the year, I updated last year’s Whole Team Trade Tree to show how this current squad was built. (Click to embiggen.) Now play ball!

Spring Training 2012: Saturday 3/24 McKechnie Field Recap

Ed. note: Travel delays and prior commitments kept me from getting this posted sooner.

PirateFest was going on today, but I went to Pirate City instead. Luckily I arrived in time to get this shot:

Matt Hague (pirate ship hat) and Charlie Morton sign autographs.

Going inside I headed to the batting cages to see if anyone was hitting. Along the way I ran into club President Frank Coonelly and was able to ask him about the renovations that are going to happen at McKechnie Field. Specifically I asked if they considered making the outfield dimensions match those in PNC Park. Mr. Coonelly’s answers:

My thanks to Mr. Coonelly for his time. On to the game! Recap. Box Score.

Excellent: James McDonald. James was wild on the first two pitches of the game, causing me worry that it was going to be a long day. He would immediately right the ship and pitch 5 1/3 innings before giving up his first hit. Final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 3 K. McDonald also showed a good glove and was able to coax a walk out of Astros pitcher Kyle Weiland.

Good: Neil Walker‘s 2-run single and Garrett Jones‘ 2-run bomb accounted for all of the scoring. Walker’s hit came after Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen both failed to get a runner home from third with less than two out. Jones’ shot landed more than 90 feet past the right field wall.

Very Bad: Ryota Igarashi showed very little control and is looking at a steep hill to climb if he wants to make the team. The five batters he faced went walk, walk, homerun, ground out, infield hit.

Pictures:

Another beautiful day at McKechnie Field.

Lineups. (J.B. Shuck?)

Jose Tabata in the batting cage.

Garrett Jones followed.

A good day for autographs. Morton signed a lot on his way to the clubhouse after his appearance at PirateFest.

Rod Barajas signed after a turn in the batting cage. Someone asked him about possibly setting a new record for homeruns by a Pirates catcher.

Andrew McCutchen is good people. He signed every day that I saw him.

James McDonald does some long toss to get loose...

…and then warms up to Michael McKenry in the bullpen.
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Former Pirate outfielder and manager Bill Virdon watches.

Mini McGehee doesn't appear to like the mini-parrot.

When the gulls start landing on the field, you know the game will be over pretty soon.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a wrap up and final thoughts.

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