Friday, September 20, 2013

The Cisco Kid v Mat Latos...Crunch Time Starts

Francisco Liriano (16-7, 2.92) and Mat Latos (14-6, 3.14) open the three gamer that will close out the Bucs' regular season home schedule this weekend at PNC Park against the Reds. Guess the MLB schedulers checked with Nostradamus to have Pittsburgh and Cincinnati meet six times in the last nine days of the season. Nothing like contenders banging heads at the end.

The Cisco Kid has yet to whip the Reds; he's 0-3 so far this season. But in his 10 starts at PNC Park this season, Frankie has gone 8-1 with a 1.37 ERA. He's pitched into the sixth inning in all 10 starts and has held the opposition to a .181 BA and one home run. Latos is 1-1 against the Bucs, but hasn't been anything special, with an ERA approaching 4.50. But he's been dependable for the Reds since August, even with his Bucco outliers, and in his last eight starts, he's 4-3 with a 2.59 ERA..

The game begins at 7:05 and will be aired on the MLB Network, Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. Could be a few drops and bolts in the air; scattered thunderstorms are supposed to roll through the area by 8 PM and last on and off all night. (EDIT - now the rain is supposed to come in later, so the players shouldn't be dodging raindrops.)

Pirate lineup: Jose Tabata LF, Neil Walker 2b, Andrew McCutchen CF, Justin Morneau 1b, Marlon Byrd RF, Pedro Alvarez 3b, Russ Martin C, Jordy Mercer SS and Francisco Liriano P.

Why mess with a good thing?

Reds lineup: Shin-Soo Choo CF, Brandon Phillips 2b, Joey Votto 1b, Ryan Ludwick LF, Jay Bruce RF, Todd Frazier 3b, Zack Cozart SS, Devin Mesoraco C and Mat Latos P.

  • Francisco Liriano is a half-dozen whiffs away from 1,000 for his career. In fact, Pittsburgh pitching overall is five strikeouts shy of tying the club record of 1,192 K’s, set last season.
  • St. Louis lost in 15 innings last night and the Reds were off, so the Bucs are a game behind the Cards and a game ahead of Cincinnati. Washington won, but their sands are running out. They're six behind Pittsburgh and five behind the Reds with nine games to go.
  • The Bucs and Reds are the only two MLB clubs that have five starters with an ERA under 3.50 (minimum ten starts).
  • This could be a playoff preview: The way that Pittsburgh and Cincy's rotations are now set up, today's matchup would be repeated if the two teams met in a play-in wild card game.
  • Carmen Gentile has a "Pirates on the Verge" story for USA Today.

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