Monday, June 25, 2012

Brotherly Love Lineup, Notes

RHP Jeff Karstens (0-1, 4.50 ERA) gets back in the saddle against the Phillies RHP Joe Blanton (6-6, 5.04). Karstens has been out since April 18th with shoulder inflammation and later a hip strain, but pitched well in his last rehab start. He bumps Brad Lincoln back to the bullpen. Blanton has had a rough string of games, so the Pirates should be able to give JK a couple of runs to work with. The game begins at 7:05 at Citizens Bank Park and will be shown on Root Sports.

The Lineup: Alex Presley LF, Jose Tabata RFR, Andrew McCutchen CF, Garrett Jones 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Rod Barajas C, Clint Barmes SS, Jeff Karstens P. We assume this is the lineup Clint Hurdle expected to write out early and often back in spring training.

Pittsburgh plays the Phils four times, and won't face either Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee, who worked yesterday's twin bill, and that can't hurt. The Bucs are just a game behind the Reds and right there in the wildcard race. They play a big series in St. Louie after the Phils, then host the Astros for four and the G-Men. It's a nice opportunity to carry some mo into the All-Star break.

  • Utility IF Drew Sutton, who hit .271 for the Tampa Bay Rays, replaced Jordy Mercer as the Bucco bench dude. No word yet on who he will replace on the roster when he reports tomorrow, but there still are 13 pitchers, one over the usual limit.
  • Jeff Karstens hasn't won a game since August 10th, 2011, when the Bucs beat the Giants 9-2.
  • The rest of the Bucco rotation has been pushed back a day with Karsten's return, so not only does he provide a fresh arm, but his staff mates get an extra day off. Sweet! Except for RHP Bryan Morris, who was optioned back to Indy to make space for JK after being called up yesterday.
  • Neil Walker has played in 69 of the team’s first 71 games this season even with getting a well earned day off yesterday. Since the beginning of last year, he's played 228 games, behind just Dan Uggla (233), Joey Votto (232), Michael Bourn (230) and Starlin Castro (230) in the NL.
  • Always a thrill to visit Philly. Mike McKenry tweeted "Almost got to see my first cab brawl with jhay_da_man (Josh Harrison). People are crazy!"
  • The Pirates posted a 10-8 record during interleague play this year, the most wins in a single season in the 16 years of playing against the AL. Their previous best finish was 8-7. Overall, the AL won the showdown with a 142-110 slate (56%), the ninth straight year the junior circuit has taken the series.
  • Happy birthday, Paul Maholm (30) and Aramis Ramirez (34).
  • Man, talk about blasts from the past: Eleven year vet Kip Wells has been promoted by the Padres and will start tomorrow in Houston, his home town. The 35 year old last pitched for the Bucs in 2006 and his last outing in the show was in 2009 with the Reds.

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