Frankie scattered three hits, struck out nine and tossed six scoreless innings in his last start Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, allowing just two earned runs in his last three outings. In fact, Liriano has been tough since returning from his oblique injury; he's gone 3-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 11 starts since leaving the DL. Francisco is pretty strong on the road, where he's recorded three of his four wins and been charged with two or fewer earned runs in eight of his 11 starts away from PNC Park.
He's never faced Philadelphia.
AJ is still AJ; when his knuckle curve is on and guys are chasing, he's top shelf, but when he can't get it over and no one bites, he's in trouble. In his last eight starts, Burnett has surrendered four earned runs or more five times. The three times he's held an opponent to one run have all been against the same foe, Washington. So let's hope his magic works against the beltway and not the parkway club.
Burnett went against Pittsburgh once this year, going seven innings with seven K at PNC Park, taking a 6-2 loss to Jeff Locke when the Philly bullpen threw a little gas on the fire. He's working through a sports hernia and hinted at retirement, so it may be the last time we get to see AJ on the hill.
The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Travis Snider RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ Martin C, Starling Marte LF, Ike Davis 1B, Jordy Mercer SS and Liriano P.
The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
- Top Dawg:: Josh Harrison enters today first among all NL hitters with a .318 BA, and Cutch ranks third in the league with a .311 average. Freddy Sanchez was the last Pirate to win the batting title after hitting .344 in 2006.
- Who Da Man? Per the Ace of Stats: Andrew McCutchen has 276 multi-hit games through 863 career contests; Barry Bonds had 274 multi-hit games in 1,010 games with the Pirates.
- Russel-Mania: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN did a piece on Russ Martin.
- Par-tay: Alec Dopp of Daily Gammon features the smoking Starling Marte.
- To The Wire: The Braves and Brewers won, so the Pirates' final wild card spot lead remains at 1-1/2 games. The Giants have a four game lead for the top spot. Pittsburgh is 3-1/2 games behind the Cards in the NL Central race (three games back in the loss column).
- Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects wonders if Ike or Pedro is the one to go during the off season.
- Team Report: Colin Dunlap of The Fan reports that Pedro and the FO are on "tenuous" terms right now and that Cutch plays way deep, well, because he wants to.
- Cardiac Kids: Last night was Pittsburgh's 38th come-from-behind win this season, the most since the Bucs "Freak Show" team recorded 41 in 1997. They're not so hot in squeakers, though. The Pirates have played 55 one-run games this season, tied with the Marlins for the most in the NL, and are 27-28 in them.
- Last Homestand: This weekend the Pirates begin their final homestand of the season with the Cubs. Following an off day on Monday, the Bucs will welcome the Red Sox with a three-game series beginning Tuesday and the Brewers close it out with a three-game series beginning next Friday. Seems like the season just started...