Pitchers: Juan Nicasio (4-3, 4.46) ends the series against Chad Bettis (4-2, 4.18). Juan's hit a tough patch; in his last three starts, he's gone 15-1/3 frames, giving up 13 runs (11 earned) on 21 hits with five walks. He has to be looking over his shoulder for the looming shadow cast by the up-and-coming talent at Indy. Nicasio missed the Coors series, and has only started once against the Rox. Bettis is another ground ball guy (Colorado finally got the memo) with good control who has gone six innings or more in his past eight starts. In his latest outing against the Bucs last month, he went 6-2/3 IP, giving up four runs on six hits.
|Juan looks to take the series winner this afternoon (photo Joe Guzzy/Pirates)|
Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Harrison 2B, S-Rod SS, Nicasio P. JHK is out with a bruised hand and Jordy, who has started a team-high 41 games, gets a blow. Good timing for both as Monday is an off day, so they get a two-fer.
- Jung Ho Kang said X-rays of his hand came up negative. He injured it trying to get past the catcher to score on a challenged play the Pirates lost; the ruling was a) no block violation, and b) his hand swipe missed the dish. So nothing worked out very well on that play. But it did pass a major test in JHK's recovery - while he didn't go in feet first, he didn't shy away from contact, so his injury didn't leave him gun shy on the field.
- Ends up that the "Salt and Pepper" tag for Jordy and Josh wasn't a Cole Train creation. The pair came up with it themselves during spring training, along with Salt n Pepa's "Push It" as their DP music, per Adam Berry of MLB.com.
- Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror interviewed Curve manager Joey Cora, who was outspoken about the lack of Latino skippers/FO people in MLB.
- As you've probably heard, an ESPN report from Jayson Stark says the rules committee is considering raising the strike zone from the bottom to the top of the knees to get more balls in play and improve the pace of the game (they're also considering making an intentional walk verbal). The debate is whether batters will take advantage or just wait out more walks. It does appear that it has a good chance of being adopted and in effect for next season.