Friday, April 5, 2013

Bucs v LA

Jonathan Sanchez, Jeff Locke and AJ Burnett will have their work cut out for them the weekend, dueling against the Dodgers trio of Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and probably South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Bucs could have opted to keep the rotation short, but decided to get all five guys rolling from the get-go this season.

Like the Bucs, the Dodgers have been on a bit of a chilly streak at the plate, scoring seven runs (four in the opener) while going 2 for 27 with RISP and hitting .176 overall. Of course, that was against the Giants and their top three of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. The Bucs are even worse off, scoring six runs with a .144 BA even with their comparatively lusty 4-for-22 with RISP. As Clint Hurdle told John Perrotto of the BC Times “We need some guys to slow down in the batter’s box. We’re swinging at balls and taking strikes."

LA gets into the bottom of the Bucco staff in this series until AJ takes the bump on Sunday while trotting out their top three. There's something about the Bucs and April that brings out the other teams' top guns.Of course, there's something about the City of Angels that brings out the worst in the Bucs, period. The Pirates have lost six straight games at Dodger Stadium. The last time the Pirates won a series in Los Angeles was between September 19th-21st, 2006, and they've since gone 4-16 at Chavez Ravine.

Tonight starts a stretch where the next seven series (23 games) are against clubs that finished at .500 or better - LA, Arizona, Cincy, St. Louis (twice), Atlanta, and Philadelphia. The good news is that 10 of those games are part of a homestand running from April 12-21, but it's a brutal start to the year.

Hey, Pittsburgh had a tough row to hoe last April and held on finish 10-12. It's tough to tell what they have after a disappointing series against the Cubs, but this month should give us some idea of what to expect from the Pirates.

Tonight's game could be interesting. The Bucs have had some success against Grienke. He's started six games against them, and though he has a 4-1 record against Pittsburgh, he also has a 5.70 ERA. Zackster also had a funky spring with a sore elbow and is making his first 2013 start. As a long-time Giant, Sanchez has seen his share of the Dodgers. In 17 games (13 starts), he's 3-6 with a 4.66 ERA against the Blue.

  • Brandon Inge played for Indy yesterday, meaning his 20-day rehab clock has started. None of the pitchers on the DL are close to game-ready yet, although the Pirates hope that Francisco Liriano and even Charlie Morton might be five or six weeks away. Jeff Karstens hasn't begun throwing yet, so if someone has to move to the 60 day DL, he's looking like the one.
  • Gerrit Cole starts for Indy today against Columbus, and the countdown begins...
  • In case you're wondering about the difference between the Pirate organization and Tampa's, consider this: Roberto Hernandez's start today ends a streak of 1,207 straight games without using a free agent starting pitcher. The last FA to start for the Rays was Hideo Nomo in July 2005.
  • Maybe GW dissed the Cubbies a little more than deserved; Garrett Wilson of the blog Outside Corner picks them as the surprise team of the season with a possible playoff chance.
  • This day in Bucco history: In 1975, the Pirates got OF Bill Robinson from the Phils for RHP Wayne Simpson. McKeesport’s Robinson spent eight years in Pittsburgh as a platoon OF’er, hitting .276 with 109 HR. And last year, opening day drew the largest crowd in PNC Park history, 39,585, as the Bucs Erik Bedard lost a classic pitching duel to the Phil’s Roy Halladay 1-0.

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