|Have a safe and happy Fourth|
Today: The holiday game at Philadelphia starts at 4:05 PM. It will be on ESPN, Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan as the Bucs try to snap a disappointing four-game losing streak. BTW, this is the first time that Pirates are spending July 4th in Philadelphia since playing in a doubleheader there in 1963.
Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Josh Harrison 2B, Cutch CF, John Jaso 1B, David Freese 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Stew C & Jameson Taillon P. J-Bell has been on the icy side of late (4-for-28) so the sizzlin' JJ gets the nod at first.
Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (4-2, 2.97) takes on Mark Leiter Jr. (1-0, 4.20). Jamo is coming off 6-1/3 scoreless innings and a 4-0 win against Tampa Bay. He's been in the stretch a lot since his return, but still has gone 2-1/2.42 in four starts since rebounding from the DL in mid-June. JT has one career start against the Phils in July, 2016, with a no-decision after allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings in Pittsburgh’s 5-4 win at PNC Park. 26-year-old Leiter is a kinda neat story - he was drafted in 2013 in the 22nd round and signed for $1,000. This was the first year he made a AAA roster, much less an MLB spot. Today will be his third start, replacing Jerad Eickhoff who is on the DL with a bum back. He's been up-and-down in effectiveness, winning his first game with a nice outing against Arizona and then getting beat up some v Seattle. Leiter walks a man every other frame and gave up three homers in his turn against the Mariners. He'll be facing the Pirates for the second time, giving up a run in 2/3-IP of relief back in May. If the name rings a bell, it's because his dad Mark tossed for 11 years in the show, hangin' 'em up after the 2001 campaign.
|JT is the holiday starter (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
- J-Bell ranks third among NL rookies in RBI (38) behind Cody Bellinger (56) and Hunter Renfroe (39). His 38 RBI are the most by a Pirates rookie before the break since Jason Bay collected 39 in 2004.
- The bullpen has been taking on water, but this stat sorta surprised us: the Pirates are 31-4 when leading after seven innings, better than we thought it would be.
- Starling Marte got in a couple of games in A Ball and was sent to Indy to finish out his rehab; he's due back in two weeks.
- 2017 Pirates first round draft pick Shane Baz made his debut yesterday with the GCL Pirates. Baz, who the Pirates selected 12th overall in the draft, started and struck out two batters in a scoreless inning of work.
- Jeff Locke was DFA'ed by the Marlins today.