PITTSBURGH — It’s blustery, it’s cold, it’s snowing, but it appears Major League Baseball will be committed tonight at PNC Park, as the Pirates wrap a two-game interleague series against the Twins at the innovative start time of 6:05 p.m.
Pittsburgh (4-0) is the lone unbeaten team in MLB and leads the National League Central by 1/2 game over the 4-1 Brewers.
Iván Nova pursues his second successful start of the season, after surviving some early control issues in the opener at Detroit a week ago. He’ll oppose Jake Odorizzi, who threw six scoreless against the Orioles in his Minnesota debut.
“(Nova) had quite a few misses to start,” Clint Hurdle said. “Move on from there. He tightened things up as he went. He was very resilient in pitching out of the stretch. See how he fares tonight. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
In the only real news item from the early clubhouse session, Jordy Mercer (bruised right hand) declared himself fit to play, a position Hurdle confirmed. Mercer said the injury to his pinky finger won’t affect his fielding as much as his hitting, but the bruising and discomfort have subsided considerably in the past 24 hours.
“The biggest thing for me, which I knew, would be gripping a bat,” Mercer said. “We were able to put some things together on my batting glove to help out. … Hopefully by (Thursday) I should be ready to roll.”
Here’s Alan Saunders’ column on what we can draw from the Pirates’ hot start:
And while Joe Musgrove is on the disabled list, I thought he merited a getting-to-know-you story for those unfamiliar with his background.
Seems like he’ll play a role in some fashion, whether it be in the rotation or bullpen, where he was quite effective for Houston late last season:
Speaking of Saunders, he’s here for the pregame and he fired off his Twitter lineup as only he can:
Gm 5: ☠ (4-0) vs 👬 (2-2)
Ivan Nova (3.60 ERA) vs Jake Odorizzi (0.00 ERA)
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) April 4, 2018
2B, Brian Dozier
LF, Eddie Rosario
3B, Miguel Sanó
1B, Logan Morrison
SS, Eduardo Escobar
RF, Max Kepler
CF, Byron Buxton
C, Jason Castro
As I said at the start, it’s going to be a brisk evening on the shores of the Allegheny. According to Weather.com, we’re looking at steady winds out of the west in the 20 mph range and temperatures dipping under 40 degrees.
Hurdle had some pregame insight on how he’s traditionally taught his outfielders to play in windy conditions. In short, the advice is to get to the expected landing spot of a fly ball earlier than usual, to give yourself an opportunity to adjust at the last second.
“The one thing we stress is overplaying the ball, (so) you’re making catches coming in, when you can,” Hurdle said. “You just go and try to get ‘around’ the ball. That’s the best information we can give them on days like today.”
I’ll be hanging out in the comment section if you have any specific questions about this game or the Pirates in general.
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