Lineup: Starling Marte LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Adam Frazier RF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy Mercer SS & Gerrit Cole P. Lather, rinse, repeat with Fraze in right.
|Cole Train toes the slab (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (7-7, 4.18) starts the set against Matt Cain (3-8, 5.49) Gerrit is coming off a strong performance against the Brew Crew, going seven IP and giving up a run while fanning a season-high 10 batters. He was rewarded with a no-decision in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 walkoff win in 10 innings. After a cold spell, he's slashed 4-1/3.05 over his last seven starts. Cole Train needs time to get his engine purring, though, as he's been scored on in the first frame in each of his last five starts, so the gang has been starting in a hole. He's generally pretty solid against the G-Men with a career 3-1/3.21 line in five starts, but got walloped in his one outing this campaign, a 13-5 loser at PNC Park in June when he was roughed up for seven runs in five frames. Matt Cain has hit the wall this year; his ERA is in line with his xFIP (5.25) so he hasn't been victimized by bad luck as much as bad pitching. He's surrendering 1.3/HR per game and issuing four walks to just five whiffs per nine while both lefties and righties are banging away at him at a .300+ clip. But beware - though struggling mightily on the road, at home, he's still Matt the Man with a 3-2/3.16 slash, so he won't be quite the pushover that his peripherals suggest. He hasn't faced the Pirates this year, but they generally hold their own against him. Cain is 3-3/3.57 in a dozen lifetime starts v the Buccos.
- Even with the two thumpings in Colorado, the Bucs have won 12-of-17. The streak started after the Giants swept them at PNC Park. San Fran has taken 5-of-16 since that set.
- Big stretch of games coming up. The Pirates will play the Giants, Padres, Reds, Padres, Tigers, Blue Jays, Brewers and Cardinals in a row; all but the Brew Crew are currently under .500. The Bucs have to step up to the plate; so far they're are 22-26 against teams under .500, fueled by losing 6-of-7 to Cincinnati.