The Buc bats have been hot the past couple of games; Minnesota shouldn't slow that big mo down. Their starting pitchers have the next-to-worst ERA in baseball at 6.06, and while the bullpen is solid enough with a 3.61 ERA, the Twins' overall ERA is 5.05 with the most longballs per nine innings (1.37) surrendered in the show. They're middle-of-the-pack on the attack, so this sets up to be a good series on paper for Pittsburgh with the usual big ifs: can Pirate starters get into the seventh and the batters show a little discipline? Both go a long way toward claiming a W.
The lineup: Jose Tabata LF, Josh Harrison RF, Andrew McCutchen CF, Casey McGehee 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Rod Barajas C, Clint Barmes SS, Kevin Correia P.
Kinda odd; Alex Presley swats a pair of homers and sits down. Clint Barmes still hangin' in there; Jordy Mercer really should be sent back down to get some work if Barmes is bulletproof. Barmes is batting .176 since collecting five hits in two games after he was benched in early June.
- Anthony Castrovince of Sports Illustrated has a glowing piece on Cutch.
- Johnette Howard of ESPN gets into AJ Burnett's head. (Thanks to Tom Smith at Rumbunter.)
- Jim Callis of Baseball America discusses why the potential Scott Boras ploy of a move to Japan or an indy league team might not be so attractive to Mark Appel.
- "Big Country" Brad Eldridge's next at-bat will be in Japan.
- Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs called on Robert Boden, the Batted Ball In Play stat guy, to determine what effect defensive shifts have on hitting. There's a lot of geeky inner SABR baseball stuff going down in the article, but the bottom line is that BAs are 11 points under the expected number, and that is a pretty strong indicator that the shifts are having their desired effect.