PITTSBURGH — Good teams avoid losing streaks. Or is it that teams that avoid losing streaks become good?
Either way, the Pirates’ hopes of validating their opening 15 games rest upon not giving it back before the end of April. Getting swept at home in this mini-stand at PNC Park wouldn’t inspire confidence, even if it is just one series of many.
Chad Kuhl looks for a redeemer today after getting strafed for 11 hits in five-plus innings at Miami on Saturday. He hasn’t made it through six innings yet this season.
As Alan Saunders wrote last night, Trevor Williams certainly held up his end of the bargain, the fourth consecutive time he’s done so:
The story for the Pirates this series hasn’t necessarily been pitching, though. Their previously-torrid lineup has produced just two runs on nine hits and four walks through the first 18 innings of this series.
After German Márquez and Chad Bettis shut down the Bucs on back-to-back nights, lefty Kyle Freeland takes his 4.50 ERA to the mound in his fourth start.
“Those two pitchers have pitched extremely well,” Hurdle said. “Hey, it’s the major leagues.”
Here’s the MLB Gameday link.
MIXING IT UP
Not to give away Alan’s emoji lineup below, but you’re going to see a changeup in the starting nine today. Starling Marte and Josh Bell will both keep up their streaks of playing in every game this season, but Gregory Polanco gets a day down, as do Colin Moran, Corey Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli.
Polanco’s day on the bench is just his second of the season, but when a player is in a 1-for-19 slump with two walks and four strikeouts, ‘unplugging’ can certainly be justified. Polanco is now hitting .197/.315/.508.
“I feel sometimes there’s an urgency to hit and his swing can get long,” Clint Hurdle said when asked to diagnose Polanco’s recent troubles. “When it’s short and to the ball, that’s when the power shows up and the hit-ability shows up.”
A catcher getting a day off after a night game won’t raise any eyebrows, and neither will two lefties in Moran and Dickerson sitting out against a same-side pitcher. Hurdle added that the Pirates aren’t planning to give Dickerson 150 starts in the outfield, considering he served as a designated hitter 113 times over the past two seasons with the Rays.
Alan had to bust out a new emoji here with Moroff getting the start:
Gm 18: ☠ (11-6) vs 🗻 (11-8)
2B Mor📴@KuhlWhhip_11 (5.74 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland (4.50)
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) April 18, 2018
Here’s the starting nine for Bud Black …
2B D.J. LeMahieu
C Chris Iannetta
CF Charlie Blackmon
RF Carlos González
1B Ian Desmond
SS Trevor Story
3B Ryan McMahon
LF Mike Tauchman
LHP Kyle Freeland
Hey, the sun is out! It’s not going to snow during the game! We take our small victories in this Great Extended Winter of 2018.
Also, after a cold start to our Wednesday, temperatures will be rising through the 50s through the game. Weather.com predicts light winds out of the southwest.