Pitchers: Jon Niese (6-6, 5.07) v. Carlos Martinez (7-5, 2.83). Niese hasn't been nice for awhile. His last four starts have led to 21 earned runs scored in 21-1/3 IP off 33 hits (seven going yard) and nine walks. He's faced the Cards twice this year and been pounded for 13 earned runs in 10-1/3 frames. Not exactly an inspiring matchup, as in 11-2/3 frames, Martinez has given up just two runs to the Buccos on nine hits this campaign. The Bucs will try to work him at the plate; Martinez's issue du jour is that he can run up his pitch count in a hurry some days. He's been on an opposite roll as Jon, having gone 42-1/3 innings giving up just five runs (ERA 1.06) in his last six starts. But hey, there's a reason they play the games...
|Jon Niese is searchin' for answers (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Lineup: JJ 1B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Starling Marte LF, David Freese 3B, Josh 2B, Jordy SS, Erik Kratz C, Niese P. The Buc lineup was on hold until El Coffee was vetted; look like he passed the trainer's test.
Preview: The Bucs and St Louis continue to wage a dog-eat-dog battle, with the Bucs holding a 5-4 series edge but 2-1/2 games behind the Cards going into this series. St Louis swept a three gamer at PNC last time they met, banging out a 22-7 run advantage. Both team are coming off sweeps as the Redbirds sent the Brewers home crying in their beer while the Pittsburgh gang was dispatching Oakland. A hidden edge is that the Cards are at home - Pittsburgh is 2-1 at Busch, and the Cards are just 18-23 when served home cooking. But the pitching matchups are tough, and the Pirates season could hinge on how well they hang going into the break, with this four game set against St Louis followed by a three game brawl with the Cubs at PNC.
- As expected, the Pirates placed Chris Stewart on the 15-day DL with "left knee discomfort" (he's been banged up for a while) and added Eric Fryer to active roster for today's game. Assuming he's retroactive to Saturday (he caught on Friday), Stew will be back during the weekend following the ASB. That's also assuming nothing is seriously wrong with his knee; he's flying back to Pittsburgh today for medical tests tomorrow.
- The Bucco bullpen's 32 inning scoreless streak is the club's longest of the modern era, topping the previous record of 28-2/3 IP set in 1915 and matched in 1918, per Elias Sports.
- John Dreker of Pirates Prospects notes that C Elias Diaz will begin his rehab assignment with Bradenton today.
- Curtis Partch has cleared waivers and was assigned back to Indy.
- The Bucs continue to take their toll on opposing pitchers. The Oakland Athletics placed Fernando Rodriguez on 15-day DL (right shoulder strain) and optioned Daniel Coulombe to AAA Nashville; both worked yesterday against the Pirates.