Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Liriano v Bucholtz, Lineup, Cutch, Home Sweet Home, Long Gone & More...

Francisco Liriano (5-10, 3.53) and Clay Buchholz (8-8, 5.19) meet in the middle match tonight.

Frankie's been hot lately. He struck out a season-high 12 batters over eight scoreless innings and won a 4-1 decision against Philadelphia in his last start Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. The lefty has allowed a total of two earned runs in his last four outings, covering 27 IP. His 16 inning scoreless streak over the past three games is the longest current shutout streak in the NL.

The bad news is that he hasn't done very well against Boston. Liriano is 1-3 with a 7.01 ERA against them in five career starts. The good news is that he hasn't faced the Red Sox since 2011, so it's a brand new page that he'll be writing tonight. His home record is also a mess at 1-5/4.58, but he's only been hit hard once at PNC since he's returned from the DL in mid-July.

Buchholz is having a bad year and has been beset by injury and inconsistency. But since August 25th, he's put together a 2.10 ERA with 22 strikeouts, 17 hits and seven walks (0.80 WHIP) for a 3-0 slate. On Friday night against the Kansas City Royals, his last outing, he allowed two earned runs along with seven K's through 6-1/3 IP. His ERA has dropped a full point since late July. Small sample size to be sure, but he's finishing strong.

The 30 year old righty has never faced the Pirates.

The Brewers beat the Cards in 12 innings last night, so here how the race lines up now: St. Louis is 2-1/2 games ahead in the NL Central (two games up in the loss column). The Pirates are 2-1/2 behind the Giants for the home wild card (two in the loss column) and 1-1/2 games ahead of the Brew Crew for the final wild card (again, two in the loss column). Atlanta is pretty well done; they're 5-1/2 behind the Pirates, under .500 and six back in the loss column with 12 games to go.

The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Starling Marte LF, Ike Davis 1B, Clint Barmes SS and Liriano P. Kordy is still out with a sore back, tho he is listed as available from the bench.

The games starts at 7:05 and will broadcast by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  • In Bunches: Despite being held hitless last night, Cutch has five multi-hit games in his last 10 contests.
  • Partial to PNC: The Pirates have gone 21-9 in their last 30 home games and 27-11 in their last 38. Pittsburgh’s 47-29 home record is tied with St. Louis for the second-best in the NL, barely trailing Washington (46-28). Last year the Bucs went 50-31 at home, setting a record for the most wins at PNC Park. The Pirates have won 10 of their last 12 series played at PNC Park and have gone 17-6-1 in their first 24 home series.
  • Going, Going, Gone: A total of eight different Pirates have hit at least 10 home runs for the team this year, tying the club record set in 2007. Ike Davis has hit nine home runs with Pittsburgh this season and is one homer shy of giving the Pirates nine players with at least 10 long balls for the first time in club history. 
  • Back of the Line: RHP's Casey Sadler and Stolmy Pimentel have yet to make a September appearance for the Bucs.
  • Take A Bow: Boston brought up CF Rusney Castillo from Triple-A Pawtucket for tonight's game. The Red Sox signed Castillo to a $72.5M, seven-year contract in August, the largest deal ever signed by a Cuban defector.
  • Champs: The NL & AL East races are over. The Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles are the first two teams to make the playoffs.
  • Ex Bucs: AJ Burnett struck out four last night, giving him 2,360 whiffs in his career and moving him past Robin Roberts for 44th most all-time. He collected 389 of his K's in his two years as a Bucco.

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