Tonight: The series starter begins at 7:05 and will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan. The weather is forecast to be fine; cloudy but dry with temps in the 70s. It's also free shirt day, with the added bonus of a Dunkin' Donut gift card winner to celebrate Homer Simpson's favorite holiday, "Donut Day."
Pitching: Francisco Liriano (4-4, 4.63) begins the set against Jered Weaver (4-4, 5.40). Frankie's becoming a broken record. Batters have adjusted to his chase style with plate discipline; he has to counter with some strikes. We suspect he's well aware of that, but his fastball command just hasn't been there this year. Weaver's fastball would have trouble cutting American Legion muster, but he's developed into a junkman with a variety of off speed pitches, and that's always provided problems for the Pirates. He is susceptible to the long ball. Both guys are struggling at this point, although Francisco has been stellar at home this year (3-1/1.42), so that may be the difference.
|Frankie looking to continue his hot home cooking (photo via ESPN)|
Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Josh Harrison 2B, S-Rod SS, Stew C, Frankie P. Jordy & Fran are out; Freeser may have been slated to sit for JHK in any case, with Cutch and El Coffee in. No news on an additional move; that would indicate that Fran's bruise isn't as bad as advertised.
Preview: Catching Mike Trout in action here for the first time is a big thing, but another storyline to watch is the return of Albert Pujas. He's not having much of a season average-wise (.230, w/11 HR), but he'll play first against the Bucs and rakes here. Sir Albert is a .376 career hitter at PNC Park, with 29 homers. Hopefully our Allegheny yard won't serve as his personal fountain of youth.
The Bucco pitching has turned around recently, but unfortunately so has its support - in the past week, the bats have slashed .204/.270/.311. It'd be nice to hit on all cylinders, tho that may be easier said than done with so many Pirates nursing bruises. Team depth will make or break this series. The Angels are last in their division, but still only five games behind the Pirates by record (24 wins to 29).
|The original lineup card...pretty veteran crew (image via MLB.com)|
- Fran's foot injury isn't a fracture, just a severe bruise. Cutch's thumb is swollen, and he says that's a result of fouls jarring his bat (and hand) while being jammed. He's wearing a guard to try to keep it from flaring up, and it looks like something that he'll have to play through with gritted teeth and ice. The team doesn't anticipate any (Freeser and Jordy were also banged last night) will have to go on the DL, but the Buc bench will be light until they're back at 100%.
- The Pirates haven't played the Angels since 2013, and haven't hosted them since 2011.
- LHP Justin Masterson was assigned to Indy. He had been at Pirate City, stretching out and working on form. Arquimedes Caminero joined him to begin his rehab assignment (quad tightness).
- This week's Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet has OF Austin Meadows on top this week, with West Virginia 1B Carlos Munoz making his first appearance.
- John Sickels has a piece on Pitt's 6'6" RHP TJ Zeuch, who could be a first round pick on Thursday.