If you follow enough of the Pirates media on Twitter, then you noticed buzz surrounding the announcement of today’s lineup when it was tweeted by the official Pirates account early this afternoon. Jose Tabata, not Travis Snider, is starting in right field tonight for Pittsburgh after Snider played well last weekend against Cincinnati and had two hits last night against St. Louis.
The decision to start Tabata ahead of Snider tonight was one that appears to not be popular with the fans, but consider Tabata’s success against St.Louis starting pitcher Jake Westbrook in the past.
Of the Pirates with at least 10 at-bats against Westbrook, Tabata has the second highest batting average –.421 (he’s 9 of 21 against Westbrook) behind only Pedro Alvarez, who has 11 hits in 19 at-bats with two home runs and just one strikeout.
Snider’s numbers against Westbrook haven’t been bad, there’s just not much there to go on. He’s only faced Westbook eight times with three hits and one strikeout.
Tabata has done well in pinch hit situations in recent games, so perhaps this is a reward for that work and just a day off for Snider.
Jonathan Sanchez starts on the mound for Pittsburgh tonight, and he’ll be looking to have a much better outing that he did in his one appearance against the Cardinals last season.
Sanchez allowed six runs on four hits with three strikeouts and six walks in 5.2 innings of work.
Win or lose, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is looking to get a better performance out of Sanchez than the last few Pittsburgh starting pitchers, who have been pulled early and started to put a strain on the bullpen.
Sanchez has pitched a total of 8.1 innings in his two starts (both losses) and has a 12.96 ERA to go with three home runs allowed. Needless to say, he hasn’t pitched well. If the Pirates hope to avoid a second loss in as many days or even the need for late-game heroics that won Sunday’s contest and made Monday’s final score look more respectable they will need good stuff from Sanchez.
St. Louis (8-5, 1st National League Central)
1. Robinson cf
2. Beltran rf
3. Holliday lf
4. Craig 1b
5. Molina c
6. Freese 3b
7. Carpenter 2b
8. Kozma ss
9. Westbrook p
Pittsburgh (6-7, tied 2nd National League Central)
1. Marte lf
2. Tabata rf
3. McCutchen cf
4. Jones 1b
5. Walker 2b
6. Alvarez 3b
7. Martin c
8. Barmes ss
It’s slightly overcast at PNC Park right now, but the weather.com forecast says there could be thunderstorms in Pittsburgh starting around 8 p.m. If you’re coming to the ball park tonight, bring a poncho and maybe a book, it could be a soggy, long one this evening.