Evened Up

A brief phone post. Time is short for me this morning.

The Pirates held on for a great win against the Braves last night, 4-2. Erik Bedard struck out 9 in 5 innings. Pedro Alvarez had 2 doubles. Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan struck 5 in two innings and Nate McLouth overcame resounding boos to make a leaping catch against the wall for the last out. Same two teams go again today at 1:35.

Same Story, Different Day

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Pirates had strong starting pitching but failed in numerous opportunities to score some runs and lost the game late. Lather, rinse, repeat. Try to do better tonight.

I will add this before I move on: Pedro Alvarez looked good last night. He was patient and working the zone. Totally different from when I saw him this spring.

Elsewhere: Josh Bell, the Pirates’ second round draft choice last July, “tweaked his knee” earlier in the week and had meniscus surgury yesterday. He is expected to return later this season.

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

No No-Hitter, No Win

James McDonald was, as they say, on. The Pirates’ offense was, as usual, off.

McDonald rolled through seven strong, taking a no-hitter into the 7th. His final line of 7 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 1 ER, 8 K would be good enough to win on almost any day. But not this day; not for a team that has scored only 36 times in 17 games.

It started early. Alex Presley extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single, but was caught stealing two batters later making Andrew McCutchen‘s double for naught. Every Pirates starter had exactly one hit, but baserunning mistakes kept them from putting them together for runs. Luckily Pedro Alvarez was able to put one over the fence and avoid the shutout.

Game two starting soon, as the Pirates try to win the series.

Lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Nate McLouth RF
Andrew McCutchen 8CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Yamaico Navarro 42B
Clint Barmes 6SS
Rod Barajas C
Charlie Morton 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

Burnett a Beast, Alvarez Atones

A.J. Burnett‘s surprise debut started off roughly: A four pitch walk to Rafael Furcal, a single from Matt Carpenter, and a five pitch walk to Matt Holliday loaded the bases with no one out. But from that point on, Burnett was nearly untouchable. Two strikeouts and a line drive to short got him out of the first. He set down the next nine in a row. Only two other Cardinals would reach base in his seven innings. He even survived a bunting attempt in the third. It was exactly the kind of outing the team had hoped for when they acquired him in February.

The offensive hero of the night? None other than Pedro Alvarez, who had been 2 for 30 coming into the night.  In the fourth inning, a hot shot to third that David Freese couldn’t field cleanly brought in Andrew McCutchen with the game’s first run. In the sixth, Pedro would knock in Cutch again with a hard grounder to right. Hopefully this will be the start of changing fortunes for Alvarez.

Joel Hanrahan made his first appearance since tweaking his hamstring in San Francisco. He wasn’t sharp, walking two, but finished off the game to nail down the Pirates’ sixth win. The rubber match is today at 1:35.

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