Lineup: Starling Marte CF, Josh Harrison, Cutch DH, David Freese 3B, Jose Osuna 1B, Sean Rodriguez RF, Jordy Mercer SS, Fran Cervelli C, Adam Frazier LF (Chad Kuhl). Not sure why it took until 40 minutes before the game to make this lineup. Gregory was almost a sure sit, and with Toronto's notoriously hard turf & an off day tomorrow, DH'ing Cutch was a given. The only tough decision was between J-Bell and Joey O at first; six of one, half dozen of the other.
|Chad is looking to bring the series home today (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Pitchers: Chad Kuhl (5-7, 4.53) and J.A. Happ (5-8, 3.77) do battle t decide the series winner. The 24-year-old Kuhl Whip went six strong innings in his last outing before fading and has been coming around as the weather heats up. He's gone 3-1/2.93 in his last eight starts and the Pirates are 5-2 in his last seven outings. Two big keys - he's figured out lefties and hasn't given up a homer since July 1st. Cool Chad has never faced the Blue Jays. Happ has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his last 11 starts and been on a mini-roll, allowing just one earned run in each of his last two starts. The southpaw has had problems with long balls and has a notable split (.261 v RHB; .200 v LHB). Happ is 3-3/3.31 v his old mateys in nine career starts but hasn't faced them since 2012.
- Cutch (he took BP today) and Gregory went through some pre-game drills to determine availability. The Bucs did get one guy back - Clint has returned from Don Baylor's funeral.
- Showdown time is right around the corner. Starting Tuesday night, the Pirates will begin a stretch of 34 of 38 games against teams from the NL Central (the other four are against the Dodgers, ugh).
- Indy's LHP Steven Brault allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings in yesterday's win against Syracuse. Brault enters today leading the International League in ERA (1.94) and batting average against (.199). The Indians have won seven of their last eight games while the starting pitching staff has posted a 1.30 ERA during the stretch. See you guys in September!
- The Pittsburgh Kid will be waiting for the Bucs in Milwaukee. The Brewers got him and cash from the Mets for a PTBNL. Neil is batting cleanup and playing 3B for the Brew Boys today.
- Sad news: Byrce Harper injured his knee running the bases last night. It always hurts when one of the games bright lights go down. Fortunately, it was a deep bone bruise and nothing structural although he's going on the DL.