Sunday, July 20, 2014

Locke v Matzek, Lineup, Comeback Kids, Home Cooking, Twin Killings...

Jeff Locke (2-1, 2.89) takes on Tyler Matzek (1-4, 4.97) in another southpaw matchup.

Locke would be off to a dazzling start with some help from his friends. In his first eight starts, he's left four of the games with a lead only to lose the W to a blown save. He's been that good, charged with just 12 earned runs in his last seven starts (all, needless to say, quality starts) and just as tough at home, with a 1-1 slate and 1.86 ERA in his last four outings at PNC Park. He's faced the Rox once, getting a no decision in a 3-2 loss last year at Coors Field.

Matzek, 23, was a first round pick (#11) in 2009 who has been in the show since June 11th.  Coors has been his cross to bear; on the road he's posted a 3.63 ERA in three starts but at home it's 5.92 in four starts.

His stuff is great with a low-90s tailing fastball and a good slider that can reach the mid 80s that miss bats, but his command, not so much, as his accuracy both in and out of the strike zone is inconsistent. Matzek is tough on lefties, and if control issues and a basic two pitch toolkit limit his ability to start, he's in line to become at least a LOOGY in the Rox scheme of things.

The Lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Jordy Mercer SS, Pedro 3B, Chris Stewart C and Locke P. Starling Marte may or may not be available from the bench today, depending on how his pre-game routine goes. The Bucs insist he didn't get a concussion when he was beaned Friday night, but the blow sure must have rung his bell pretty well.

The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • The Buccos have come from behind in 24 of their 51 wins, and Saturday night’s 11-inning victory was Pittsburgh’s MLB-leading ninth walkoff win of the season. Jordy Mercer became the seventh different Bucco to supply a walkoff RBI in 2014. Mercer is on fire, hitting .358 in his first 15 games this month. Cutch is right behind him at .356.
  • The Pirates have won five straight games played at PNC Park and 11 of their last 13 on home turf. Pittsburgh’s 31-20 home record is the best in the NL and the third-best in the majors behind the Angels (33-16) and Athletics (31-16). Last year the Pirates went 50-31 at home, setting a record for the most wins at PNC Park in a single season.
  • The Bucs have turned a total of 22 double plays in their last 12 games, including a season-high tying four last night. Pedro Alvarez leads all NL third basemen with 24 double plays turned and chances, with 305. El Toro leads all third basemen in assists (222) and unfortunately, errors and errant throws (21/20).

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