Sunday, July 7, 2013

AJ Back On The Bump

AJ Burnett (4-6, 3.12) takes the hill against Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 3.45) in the rubber match of the series. AJ has been on ice for a month. His last outing was a 6-2 win against the Cubs on June 8th, when he threw 8-1/3 shutout innings before allowing a two-run homer to yesterday's hero, Alfonso Soriano, in the ninth. Burnett has fared well against Chicago, with a 7-2/3.08 line lifetime against them. We'd be surprised if he wasn't on a pitch count of maybe 75 tosses or so after the layoff.

Villanueva starts in place of the recently traded Scott Feldman. He began the season in the rotation, but was sent to the pen in mid-May, where he was quite effective, so we'll see how that carries over today. We'd  expect him to be on a 70 pitch or so limit, too. The game starts at 2:20 and will be aired by WGN, Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Pirate lineup: Starling Marte LF, Jose Tabata RF, Andrew McCutchen CF, Garrett Jones 1B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Russell Martin C, Brandon Inge 2B, Jordy Mercer SS and AJ Burnett P.

Walker is out of the lineup; again he's replaced by Brandon Inge instead of Barmes SS/Mercer 2B. Also, if it turns into a chess match, the Buc bench is short a man, assuming The Kid can't go at all today.

Cub lineup: Julio Borbon CF, Starlin Castro SS, Anthony Rizzo 1B, Alfonso Soriano LF, Luis Valbuena 3B, Nate Schierholtz RF, Darwin Barney 2B, Welington Castillo C and Carlos Villanueva P.

  • The Pirates optioned Ryan Reid to Indy to clear an active roster spot for AJ. 
  • Fun on the bases: the Bucs have stolen seven bases so far in the two games against the Cubs. The last time they had seven swipes in back-to-back games was 7/26-27/05  against the Marlins.
  • No word on Neil Walker's condition. He left with right side discomfort, which sounds like a possible oblique or rib cage injury. If he's hurt seriously enough to land on the DL, at least the timing is good, with the All-Star break coming up in a week. And hopefully the FO will decide on his status sooner rather than later with Oakland coming to town tomorrow.

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