The Pittsburgh Pirates have an opportunity this afternoon to accomplish a rare feat –winning a series at Miller Park. Not since taking two-of-three in 2010 (April 26-28) have the Pirates won a series in Milwaukee. The Pirates went just 1-9 at Miller park during the 2011 season, and are just 5-39 since the 2007 season.
Miller Park has been a house of horrors for the Bucs. But on Friday, the club belted out 13 hits –which tied their season high and scored eight runs off the Brewers. Most of the damage came in a six run 3rd inning, in which 10 batters came to the plate against Randy Wolf. The Pirates struggled on Saturday, combining for just one run (Garrett Jones bomb) on five hits.
A win today to seal the series looks to be in Pittsburgh’s favor. The Pirates have their best starter on the mound –James McDonald– and the Brewers lineup is weak. Ryan Braun (Achilles) and Aramis Ramirez (quad) are out. Rookie Mike Fiers will take the mound for Milwaukee, who’s made just one start this season.
J-Mac Dealing — Beginning with his start on April 18, James McDonald’s 1.84 ERA is the lowest among all starters in the Major Leagues (minimum of eight starts). He posted a 1.54 ERA in five starts last month and has not surrendered more than three runs in any of his first 10 assignments.
McDonald has pitched 13.0 consecutive innings without allowing a run – a season-high for a Pittsburgh pitcher and 7.0 innings shy of his personal best set in September 2010. Only New York’s Johan Santana has a longer current streak in the Majors (18.0ip).
BUCN — Andrew McCutchen has tallied 60 hits from the third spot in the lineup. Only Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez (66) has more hits from that position among National League players.
Hit Collector — Rookie first baseman Matt Hague extended his hitting streak to eight games Saturday night with a base knock in his second AB. He has hit safely in all eight of his games since being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis on May 25. Hague is in the lineup today for the ninth straight game, batting fifth.
‘Pen Shutting it Down — The Bucco bullpen tossed 4.1 scoreless innings Saturday night after pitching 3.1 scoreless innings Friday night. The Pirates have the third-lowest bullpen ERA (2.54) in the Majors this season. Only the Baltimore Orioles (2.27) and Cincinnati Reds (2.39) have lower bullpen ERA’s.
Pirates Lineup — Tabata 7 Walker 4 McCutchen 8 Jones 9 Hague 3 McGehee 5 Barajas 2 Barmes 6 McDonald 1
Alvarez Out — Hurdle has sat Pedro Alvarez in place of a spot start for Casey McGehee. It marks McGehee’s first start since May 21. He’s just 2-for last 21 AB (0.95 avg).
Alvarez hasn’t been hitting either. The third baseman is just 7-for-40 (one homer) over his last 10 games (.175 average). Alvarez has been shut down for a couple days, maybe more to “clear his deck”, Hurdle said.
Brewers lineup — Aoki 7 Morgan 8 Hart 9 Green 5 Weeks 4 Ransom 6 Conrad 3 Maldonado 2 Fiers 1