Series Preview: The Nationals

Current record: 12-16, 4th place in NL Central, 5.5 games back

Up Next: Washington Nationals, 18-10, 1st place in NL East, 1.0 game lead

The Nats are playing great baseball right now. They have five solid starting pitchers and are allowing the fewest runs per game in the majors (2.9). Old friends Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Burnett are on the team. LaRoche has avoided his usual April slump and been the best hitter on the Nats this year. RF Jayson Werth just went down with a broken wrist on Sunday. Phenom Bryce Harper will start in right while he’s out.

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: RH Edwin Jackson (1-1, 32.2 IP, 29 K, 3.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (1-2, 15.2 IP, 17 K, 8.04 ERA, 1.72 WHIP)

Wednesday: LH Ross Detwiler (3-1, 28.1 IP, 21 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (2-4, 34.0 IP, 37 K, 2.65 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

Thursday: RH Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 38.0 IP, 38 K, 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-2, 29.1 IP, 12 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)

No lineup available yet.

Update 2:35pm: The lineup is posted. Cutch is back, Alex Presley sits.

Jose Tabata LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Garrett Jones RF
Clint Barmes SS
Rod Barajas C
A.J. Burnett P

Reds Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 6-1 Loss vs Cincinnati. No bats. Box score.
Saturday: 3-2 Win vs Cincinnati. James McDonald is on. Box score.
Sunday: 5-0 Loss vs Cincinnati. No bats again. Box score.

Season Record: 12-16, 4th place (tie) in NL Central, 5 games back

Notes: Well, I was wrong about this one. I thought the Reds’ pitching was weak enough for the Pirates to score some runs. Four runs in three games is horrible. Andrew McCutchen missed two more games with the flu. Nate McLouth did okay in his place. Pedro Alvarez‘s hot hitting has resulted in being moved up to the cleanup spot.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Walker, 2B 11 1 4 2 1 1 5 0.364 0.417
Tabata, RF 10 1 2 0 1 2 1 0.200 0.333
Barmes, SS 10 0 1 0 0 5 7 0.100 0.100
Presley, LF 9 1 1 1 0 3 3 0.111 0.111
McLouth, CF 8 1 3 0 1 2 3 0.375 0.444
Alvarez, 3B 7 0 1 1 4 2 2 0.143 0.417
McGehee, 1B 7 0 1 0 1 3 7 0.143 0.250
Jones, G, RF, 1B 6 0 1 0 0 1 5 0.167 0.167
Barajas, C 6 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.000
McKenry, C 4 0 0 0 0 3 1 0.000 0.000
McCutchen, A, CF 3 0 1 0 1 1 1 0.333 0.500
Navarro, PH-LF, SS 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Correia, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.500 0.500
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Harrison, PH 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
91 4 16 4 9 27 39 0.176 0.250

Batting
Doubles (3): Barmes (7), Jones (5), Tabata (5)
HomeRuns (2): Walker (1), Presley (2)

BaseRunning
CS: Tabata (4)
PO: Tabata, McCutchen

Fielding
Errors: Morton (3), Alvarez (6)
Double Plays: McGehee-Barajas, Barmes-Walker-McGehee, Barmes-McGehee, McCutchen-Walker, Alvarez-Walker-McGehee (2)

Pitching

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R  ER  BB  SO  HR   ERA   WHIP
Correia(L, 1-2) 7.0 9 5 5 1 3 2 6.43 1.43
McDonald, J(W, 2-1) 6.3 6 1 1 2 7 0 1.42 1.26
Morton(L, 1-3) 6.0 7 5 4 2 5 2 6.00 1.50
Hughes, J 2.0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0.00 1.50
Resop 2.0 3 1 1 3 1 1 4.50 3.00
Hanrahan(S, 5) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Lincoln 1.0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 2.00
Grilli(H, 6) 1.0 2 1 1 1 2 0 9.00 3.00
Cruz, J(H, 4) 0.7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
27.0 30 13 12 11 19 5 4.00 1.52

Transactions: None

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

Cardinals Wrap Up

Scores:
Tuesday: 10-7 Loss at St. Louis. Bad pitching, bad D, bad umpire? Box score.
Wednesday: 12-3 Loss at St. Louis. Worst game of the year. Box score.
Thursday: 6-3 Win at St. Louis. New team record for K’s. Box score.

Season Record: 11-14, 3rd place in NL Central, 5 games back

All the pitching the Bucs didn’t get in the first two games of the series was used in the finale. Erik Bedard struck out 11 (including seven in a row) in five innings and the bullpen added another six, setting a new team record for a nine inning game. Pedro Alvarez continued to set the world on fire with two more homers amoing his six hits. Andrew McCutchen missed one game and had to leave another one early with the flu.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh   AB    R    H  RBI  BB SO  LOB   AVG
Presley, LF 14 0 1 1 0 4 5 0.071
Tabata, RF 13 4 4 2 1 3 3 0.308
Alvarez, 3B 11 6 6 5 1 1 1 0.545
Walker, 2B 11 2 3 0 1 4 1 0.273
Jones, G, 1B 10 2 4 2 2 1 3 0.400
Barmes, SS 8 0 3 3 0 0 2 0.375
McLouth, CF 8 0 1 1 0 2 4 0.125
McKenry, C 7 0 0 0 0 3 7 0.000
Navarro, SS 5 0 2 0 0 1 2 0.400
McCutchen, A, CF 5 1 1 0 1 0 2 0.200
Barajas, C 5 1 1 0 0 0 2 0.200
Harrison, PH-2B 3 0 2 2 0 0 0 0.667
McGehee, 1B 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.500
Bedard, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000
Morton, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000
106 16 29 16 6 21 32 0.274

Batting
Doubles (7): Barajas (3), Barmes 3 (6), Tabata (4), Jones (4), McGehee (4)
Triples (1): McCutchen (1)
HomeRuns (2): Tabata (1), Alvarez 2 (7)

BaseRunning
SB: Tabata (4)

Fielding
Errors: Jones (1), Barmes 2 (6), Alvarez 2 (5), Barajas (1)
Double Plays: (Barmes-Walker-Jones), (Jones), (Harrison-Navarro-Jones)

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Bedard (W, 2-4) 5.0 5 2 2 2 11 0 3.60 1.40
Morton (L, 1-2) 4.3 8 6 5 2 5 1 10.38 2.31
Lincoln 3.3 3 0 0 1 3 0 0.00 1.20
Hughes, J (H, 2) 3.0 3 3 1 0 2 1 3.00 1.00
Burnett (L, 1-2) 2.7 12 12 12 1 2 2 40.50 4.88
Grilli (H, 5) 2.0 1 0 0 3 3 0 0.00 2.00
Cruz, J (H, 3) 2.0 2 0 0 3 2 0 0.00 2.50
Hanrahan 1.0 1 1 1 2 2 0 9.00 3.00
Resop 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Watson 0.7 2 1 1 0 1 1 13.50 3.00
25.0 37 25 22 14 32 5 7.92 2.04

Transactions: None

Braves Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 6-1 Loss at Atlanta. One bad inning from the bullpen. Box score.
Saturday: 4-2 Win at Atlanta. Score early and hang on late. Solid pitching. Box score.
Sunday: 4-3 Loss at Atlanta. Sloppy defense, 1 for 13 with RISP. Box score.
Monday: 9-3 Win at Atlanta. Finally, the bats break out. Box score.

Season Record: 10-12, 4th place in the NL Central

Splitting four games on the road versus a good team is a very acceptable result. Nice to see the bats come alive too.

Earlier I posted a little about Pedro Alvarez, but I want to reiterate that he was their best player this weekend. He looked loose and confident, which was a marked difference from how I saw him in March. Andrew McCutchen on the other hand looked to be pressing to get the big hit every time up. If both of those guys were hitting at the same time, watch out.

All four starters looked good. I watched James McDonald warm up in the bullpen and he was all over the place. When he started so shaky in the first and second it looked like it was going to be a long game. But as he sometimes does, he figured it out and shut the door on the Braves from that point on.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh   AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB   AVG
McCutchen, A, CF 16 2 3 1 1 7 4 0.188
Walker, 2B 14 2 7 1 3 0 3 0.500
Alvarez, 3B 14 2 5 3 2 5 10 0.357
Tabata, RF 14 3 5 3 1 1 4 0.357
Presley, LF 13 2 4 1 1 4 1 0.308
Jones, G, 1B 12 0 2 2 0 5 2 0.167
Barmes, SS 11 0 0 0 0 3 9 0.000
McGehee, 1B 9 1 2 0 2 5 3 0.222
Barajas, C 8 2 2 0 3 2 4 0.250
Navarro, LF 4 2 2 3 0 0 3 0.500
McKenry, C 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 0.333
McDonald, J, P 3 0 0 0 1 1 2 0.000
Bedard, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 5 0.000
McLouth, PH 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000
Correia, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000
126 17 33 14 15 34 51 0.262

Batting
Doubles (11): Presley (4), Alvarez 3 (4), Walker 2 (2), McCutchen (6), Jones (3), Tabata 2 (3), McGehee (3)
HomeRuns (2): Alvarez (5), Navarro (1)

BaseRunning
SB: McCutchen (5), Walker (1)
CS: Presley (3)

Fielding
Errors: Tabata (1), McCutchen (1), Alvarez (3), Resop (1)
Double Plays: (Walker-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker-Jones)

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO  HR    ERA
McDonald, J(W, 1-1) 7.7 7 3 3 2 10 1 3.52
Burnett, A.J. (L, 1-1) 6.0 6 2 2 3 8 0 3.00
Bedard (W, 1-4) 5.0 5 1 1 2 9 0 1.80
Correia (L, 1-1) 4.3 4 3 2 5 0 0 4.15
Meek 2.7 4 1 1 0 1 0 3.38
Resop(H, 2) 2.3 3 1 1 0 1 0 3.86
Lincoln 2.0 2 1 1 1 2 1 4.50
Grilli (H, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00
Hanrahan (S, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Cruz, J (H, 2) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Watson 1.0 1 3 3 2 0 0 27.00
34.0 33 15 14 15 36 2 3.71

Transaction: After Sunday’s game Evan Meek was optioned to AAA. Jared Hughes was called back up.

Up Next:
Three games in St. Louis (14-8, 1st place in NL Central). Earlier in the year the Cards took two of three from the Pirates. Expected Matchups:
Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.65 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.32 ERA)
A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.38 ERA) vs Lance Lynn (4-0, 1.33 ERA)
Erik Bedard (1-4, 2.48 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (3-1, 1.30 ERA)

Cautious Optimism on Pedro

Baseball Nation’s Grant Brisbee has a good article on Pedro Alvarez and his current hot streak. Here’s the payoff:

The good news — the best news in almost a year — is that finally, finally, finally we can assign too much meaning to Alvarez’s performance in a positive way. That’s a year of looking for a sign, any sign, that would suggest an improvement. Now we have it. And we can read too much into it. It might not be the prudent thing, but it sure feels good.

That’s really the key; Pedro has looked so bad for so long that we, as Pirate fans, are all too eager to say he’s figured it out. Heck, he hit a homer off of a LEFTY yesterday, only his fourth in 182 career plate appearances against left handed pitchers. I say get excited. Enjoy it. Maybe it won’t last – he certainly won’t stay this hot – but he IS doing it right now. And like the run to first place last year, Pirates fans have to enjoy the good times while they last.

Looking For The Split

The Pirates wrap up their series with the Braves tonight. The Bucs hope to split the four game set after yesterday’s error-riddled 4-3 loss.

Clint Hurdle is going with a getaway-day lineup against the lefty Mike Minor. Nate McLouth is the only position player who won’t get a start this series, which totally surprises me. First pitch at 7:10.

Lineups:
Pirates:
Jose Tabata RF
Josh Harrison SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Casey McGehee 1B
Neil Walker 2B
Yamaico Navarro LF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Rod Barajas C
James McDonald P

Braves:
Michael Bourn CF
Martin Prado LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Brian McCann C
Dan Uggla 2B
Chipper Jones 3B
Eric Hinske RF
Tyler Pastornicky SS
Mike Minor P

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