Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, Josh Harrison LF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Cutch CF, Jose Osuna RF, Gift Ngoepe 2B & Ivan Nova P. With a lefty, we can understand Jordy at the top of the order; we're a little more confused about Jose and Gift, who hit .207 and .111 respectively against southpaws in, of course, minuscule MLB samples. Maybe Clint figures they're due...
|And batting leadoff... (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
Pitchers: Ivan Nova (5-3, 2.83) and Robbie Ray (4-3, 3.45) hook up in what should be a pretty good evening of pitching. Both guys are quality hurlers and they usually get deep into games. Nova has kinda settled into a mid-rotation performer after a Cy Young start, although his last start was strong and only marred by keeping him in the game a little too long. Ivan has won 4-of-5 so the Bucs are always in his outings, and he's been especially tough at PNC Park this year (3-1, 2.39). He hasn't tossed against the D-Backs since 2014. Ray doesn't give up many hits though he does sometimes have walk issues. He's on a roll, tossing goose eggs deep into the game in his last two starts. The last time the lefty was roughed up was by the Pirates. Three outings ago they chased him in the fourth at Phoenix with four runs and a pair of homers. But he's a different animal on the road, where he slashes 3-1/0.81 with a WHIP of .084 and 11.6 K per nine in five starts. In counterpoint, RR hasn't had much luck against the Bucs in four lifetime starts; he's 0-2, 8.00 and only lasted 18 IP.
- Stew strained his left hamstring and Gregory has a sprained ankle (at first, he feared it was broken) from yesterday's game and was in a walking boot. He's still on the active roster. Stew was placed on the 10-day DL (partly caution, mostly because ya need two functional catchers) and replaced by Elias Diaz, who is 2-for-11 in four earlier Pirates outings this year.
|Gregory hasn't been DL'ed - yet (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
- Andrew swatted his sixth walk-off homer to win Monday's game. The blast tied him with Hall-of-Famers Ralph Kiner and Willie Stargell for the most walk-off HRs by a Bucco. Small sample, but Andrew has gone 5-for-14 (.357) with a double, two home runs and four RBI in the four games he's hit from the six-hole.
- Fraze has returned to earth - he's in a 1-for-17 funk and ditto J-Bell, who is in a 3-for-26 snap. Jordy and J-Hay have picked up the slack. Jordy has six multi-hit games in his last eight outings while Harrison has five in his last seven games.
- The Ivan Nova effect? Bucco pitchers have issued just two walks in the last three games and nine in the past six games. Only the Dodgers (143) have walked fewer batters than the Pirates (144) in the NL.
- Before the Bucco win on Memorial Day, Arizona had been on a 5-0 run in the opening game of a series and the Bucs were on an 0-6 string.
- Local prepster in the news: Latrobe HS's Zach Kokoska was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year. He's an OF/P who hit .565 with five home runs and 27 RBIs while slashing 4-0/1.52 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 23 innings on the bump. Zach committed to Virginia Tech for college, pending the draft.