Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Morton v Ranaudo, Lineup (Marte Back), Cutch, The Race Is On, The Sked & More...

Charlie Morton (5-12, 3.84) opens the Red Sox series against Anthony Ranaudo, 3-2, 5.40) tonight.

Charlie's an unknown. He's been out of action since August 15th (a loss to the Nats) with an inflamed hip/sports hernia, but his simulated games seem to have impressed the Pirate brass sufficiently that he can make at least a spot start.

Vance Worley, who Morton replaced, has been bumped to the bullpen; his spot in the rotation is dependent on how Charlie pitches now. And that's understandable; Vanimal's last six outings haven't been very strong. The Bucs are betting a rested Morton is a better bet in the last two weeks. Morton has never faced the Bosox.

Ranaudo was first rounder in the 2010 draft and the MVP of the International League this year. The 6'7" righty has been erratic in his first five starts, with a couple of solid outings sprinkled among some lemons, like his last game against the O's, when he lasted just 3-1/3 IP.  A little fatigue may be setting in, too - he's worked almost 165 innings this year; 140 was his top load in the minors.

The 25 year old features an average fastball (92 MPH), and his secondary stuff is still a little raw. His WHIP is north of 1.5 and he's given up eight homers in 26-2/3 frames along with 12 walks, so the Pirate hitters should fare OK against him if they have a little early discipline.

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 Morton P. Starling Marte is back; we though Gregory Polanco may have been in the lineup, too.

The game starts at 7:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
  •  Mr. MVP: Cutch has a modest five-game hitting streak going into tonight.
  • The Great Race: With 13 games left, the Pirates are 1-1/2 games up on the Brewers (two in the loss column) and 4-1/2 games up on the Braves (five in the loss column) for the final wildcard spot. San Francisco leads Pittsburgh by 2-1/2 games (two in the loss column) for the top wild card. The Bucs are 3-1/3 (three in the loss column) behind St. Louis for first in the NL Central. 
  • Coming Up: As fate would have it, the Bucs play the Brew Crew here three times during the weekend after Boston leaves town and then travel to Atlanta for a four game set.
  • Ten, Anyone? The Pirates are a season-high nine games over .500 for the fourth time this season.
  • MOTY: Dayn Perry of CBS Sports has Clint Hurdle in the mix for a fairly wide open NL Manager of the Year contest.
  • Teke: The great Kent Tekulve mystery has been solved: he underwent successful heart transplant surgery on September 5th after being on the waiting list since spring.

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