Bad Brad was beat up in his last outing, lasting just 66 pitches in a 5-4 loss to the Reds after a three-week layoff as a starter. We'll see if he can pace himself and stretch out a little better this time around. The Pirates would like to see him come out strong, as there may be another start or two down the road for the taking until Jeff Karstens is ready to climb the hill. Chen is a rookie from Taiwan who's off to a very solid start. He has a full arsenal of pitches, set up by a 94 MPH heater. It will be the first time either pitcher has faced their opposing team. It'll be interesting to see if the Bucs can keep up their success against lefties tonight.
The Orioles are a game behind the the Yankees in the AL East and took their last pair of games against the Phillies. After a losing streak to close May and open June, the O's have won five of their past eight against the Rays, Red Sox, and Phillies, a pretty formidable trio of foes. The Pirates have won 12-of-15, are tied for first in the division, and taken the first game of a series six straight times. Should be fun.
Might be delayed fun, though - it's been storming all day in the Charm City, and supposed to continue at least through the early evening, clearing out sometime between 6:30-7.
The lineup: Alex Presley LF, Neil Walker 2B, Andrew McCutchen CF, Casey McGehee 1B, Matt Hague DH, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Jose Tabata RF, Rod Barajas C, Clint Barmes SS.
Presley and Pedro are the only lefties in the lineup against LH Chen, and Hot Rod is back for his fourth straight game behind the plate. The Hit Collector will serve as DH tonight, though he's gone just 1-for-17 in his last six games.
- Vlad Guerrero a Bucco? Well, it is theoretically possible, says Tom Smith of Rumbunter.
- Dish discipline does matter: the Bucs are first in strikeout rate at 23.6% and next to last in walk rate at 6.1% in the MLB. That has a lot to do with their 29th ranked BA of .224; it's hard to hit while in a hole.
- The Orioles have been banging the ball, with 82 long flies to their credit, third in MLB. The Bucs have 48, 23rd in the show.
- Jon Bois of Baseball Nation takes a quick look at whether the surprising Orioles and Pirates can sustain their winning ways.
- Bucco prospect OF Robbie Grossman has been having a disappointing year at Altoona, hitting just .217. It's been even more of a bummer as he's been benched for the past week. No word on why by the brass other than "internal issues."
- Jim Callis of Baseball America calls Mark Appel's selection the biggest shocker of the draft. He goes over possible negotiating scenarios, and later says he envisions Appel as one of just two first round selections who may not agree to a deal this year.
- The short-season rookie Gulf Coast Pirates and low A State College Spikes will open next week. With the new CBA signing rules (July 13th deadline), the Pirates might actually have a full complement of draft picks play the same season they were selected for a welcome change.
- Why it's good to be a large revenue club: 31 year old OF Andre Ethier and the Dodgers agreed on a five-year extension worth $85M through 2017, with a $17.5M vesting option for 2018 according to an industry source. There's a $2.5M buyout if the option does not vest. LA signed Matt Kemp to an eight-year, $160M deal last winter.