Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, John Jaso RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Cutch CF, Jordy Mercer SS, Elias Diaz C & Chad Kuhl C. Gregory gets a seat tongiht after a couple of 0-fers and Eli gets the call after Stew caught back-to-back games.
|Chad toes the slab tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) ends the set against Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03). Chad broke a six-game losing streak with a win over Milwaukee in his last outing, but is still far from turning the corner. He hasn't worked more than five innings in over two months and gives up four walks per game, so command and efficiency have eluded him so far in his sophomore campaign. However, Cool Chad has been sturdy on the road, slashing 1-2/3.45 in six away appearances. The young righty has an 0-2/4.85 ERA in three career starts vs. the Cards. He was strong in his only outing against the Redbirds this year, going six innings in a 2-1 loss to today's mound foe, Mike Leake, in early April. The hidden vigorish: Kuhl has a huge lefty-righty split, and the Cards can't load up against him with just two lefties and a switch-hitter available. Leake is on a four-game losing streak, but may be righting the ship as his last outing was strong but ended up a no-decision for him. Struggling or not, he's got the Pirates number. He won this year's match against the Bucs, has taken nine of his past 11 decisions v the Pirates and in 29 starts against Pittsburgh slashes 10-5/3.29, so a sweep is gonna be an odds-buster tonight.
- Chad made his MLB debut one year ago on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball when he defeated Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at PNC Park on June 26th.
- Only two NL shortstops have a higher batting average than Jordy Mercer's .275 - Zack Cozart (.324) and Corey Seager (.298). Only one - Brandon Crawford (.992) - has a higher fielding percentage than Jordy (.989), who hasn’t made an error since April 26th.
|Jordy may be playing the best ball of his career now (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
- If it seems like a lot of balls have been flying over the fence lately, well, it's because they have. The Pirates have homered in a season-high nine straight games and have also allowed at least one long ball in a season-high eight in a row.
- Tough division: The Pirates were plunked three times in Saturday’s game and have been drilled 39 times this season, tied with the Cubs for the most in the majors. Since the start of the 2013 season, Pittsburgh batters have been hit a league-leading 375 times. The Cubs are second with 330 and the Cardinals are third with 311 bopped batters.
- The Redbirds have lost five straight home games; they're 18-20 at Busch.
- A couple of streaks end tonight - the Pirates will conclude a 17-game stretch of consecutive contests with an off-day tomorrow and they're 4-2 on this two-city journey away from the Allegheny, so they've clinched their first winning road trip of the year.