Series Preview: Pirates vs. Tigers

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Detroit Tigers

June 22, 2012 7:05 pm
June 23, 2012 4:05 pm
June 24, 2012 1:35 pm

PNC Park

Probable Pitchers
A.J. Burnett (7-2, 3.52 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (1-3, 2.68 ERA)
Brad Lincoln (3-2, 3.82 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (6-4, 5.17 ERA)
Kevin Correia (3-6, 4.12 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (7-4, 2.57 ERA)

Series Notes
The Tigers come into PNC this weekend with a record of 34-35, 2.5 games back of first in the AL Central… They are 17-17 on the road this season… The Pirates sit in second place of the NL Central with a record of 36-32, two games behind the Cincinnati Reds… The Bucs are 21-12 at home this season… A.J. Burnett has won six consecutive games… Burnett is 6-0 in his last eight starts with a 2.19 ERA… Doug Fister returned from the DL on Saturday and threw six scoreless innings against Colorado… Brad Lincoln is 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA in his last three starts… Max Scherzer is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 27.1 career innings vs. Pittsburgh… Scherzer struck out 15 in seven innings against the Pirates on May 20th… Kevin Correia received his first home win of 2012 on Tuesday night vs. Minnesota… Justin Verlander gave up just one hit against the Bucs on May 18th; Josh Harrison broke up his no-hit bid in the ninth inning… Pittsburgh native Don Kelly is listed as day-to-day with a left knee contusion… Alex Avila was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday… Prince Fielder has hit 28 home runs against the Pirates in his career, his most against any team… PNC Park promotions for this weekend are as follows: FridayFree Shirt Friday; SaturdayPirates Cap / Scratch ‘n Win; Sunday Kids Day / Kids Pirates Braided Necklace.

Go Bucs

Letdowns After Winning Streaks a Recurring Theme for Bucs

Although the Bucs have played just 55 games so far, there have been some evident patterns to their season. One such pattern is usual “letdown” games after big wins. Although it may not seem like it, there are certainly some prime examples. Some of these losses also happen to be blowouts, which is one of the ways the Pirates have built up such a negative run differential thus far. Let’s have a look:

  1. After a promising start to the season with a series win vs. Philadelphia, the Pirates went to the west coast with a record of 2-1. However, they lost six of their next seven games and fell to 3-7 on the year. In those seven games, the Bucs were outscored 24-11 by their opponents.
  2. Immediately following their ealy season slide, they won two in a row to take the series from the D’Backs and returned home just two games under the .500 mark. However, they lost 4-1 to the Cardinals in their homecoming game. Although it wasn’t a large margain of victory for the Cardinals, the Pirates committed four errors in an all around sloppy game.
  3. At the very end of April, the Pirates split the series with the Braves at Turner Field. The Bucs outscored Atlanta 17-15 and were primed to face the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. However, they entered St. Louis and lost 10-7 and 12-3 in the first two games, respectively.
  4. Despite the two rough losses to begin the series at Busch, the Pirates bounced back the next day with a 6-3 win. Pedro Alvarez was 2 for 4 and Jose Tabata went 3 for 5. The Bucs were ready to return home for a big nine-game homestand. However, they suffered a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Reds in the homestand opener, a very disappointing start to an important homestand.
  5. In the middle of May, the Pirates pieced together three wins in a row (two vs. Houston, one vs. Miami). However, they were pounded the following night, 6-2 vs. Miami, and lost the opening game of the Washington series, 7-4. It looked like the Pirates were starting to put everything together in those three wins, but then took a step back with those two losses. Two nights after the Washington loss, the Pirates produced just one hit vs. Justin Verlander and the Tigers, and lost 6-0.
  6. Over Memorial Day weekend, the Bucs swept the Cubs and took game one vs. Cincinnati. The Bucs were streaking and pulled up to .500 on Memorial Day. However, the Pirates came out the next night and accomplished nothing vs. Homer Bailey and got pounded 8-1.
  7. Following the 8-1 drubbing, the Pirates won four of their next five games. They pulled up to two games over .500 and sat just two games behind the Reds for the division. In tonight’s game, the Bucs came out completely flat and lost 5-4. The Bucs made it interesting late in the game, but couldn’t come back from the early 5-0 deficit.

As you can see, the Pirates have had some serious letdowns after promising wins/series. The negative run differential is a result of some of these games. From all the scores in bold above, the Bucs have been outscored 88-34, which results in a run differential of -54. After factoring in the postivied differential for the wins, the overall run differential for the year is -23, so you can see that these letdown games have been a major part of it. Hopefully the Pirates become more consistent over the course of the season and don’t suffer from such beatings immediately after they string together some wins.

Cutch and A.J. lead Bucs past Tigers

The Bucs and Tigers took the field today for some late afternoon baseball at Comerica Park, and paid tribute to the Negro Leagues.  The Pirates wore their Pittsburgh Crawfords uniforms, and the Tigers wore the Detroit Stars uni’s.  Andrew McCutchen stayed hot in the month of May, putting the Pirates/Crawfords up 2-0 in the first with an absolute two-run bomb off of Drew Smyly.  A.J. Burnett kept the Tigers off the scoreboard through two innings but not without working himself into a jam.  Burnett loaded the bases with two outs, and worked the count full to Don Kelly.  With the runners off on the pitch, Kelly popped a ball into foul territory.  Pedro Alvarez made a nice play, reaching into the stands to make the third out and leave the bases loaded.  Prince Fielder finally got the Tigers on the board in the third, with a monster home run to tie the game at 2.

Cutch struck again in the fifth, with another two-run home run, his 7th homer in May.  Burnett would pitch through the sixth inning, exiting the game with a 4-2 lead.  Jason Grilli gave up an unearned run on a Rod Barajas passed ball, cutting the Bucs’ lead to 4-3.  Grilli was able to get out of the inning though, striking out Alex Avila to leave Fielder on second.  Juan Cruz pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Joel Hanrahan closed it out in the ninth to pick up the save.

Burnett pitched a very good game, which was much needed coming off of last night’s 6-0 one-hit loss.  His final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 K, 3 BB.

The back end of the bullpen continues to pitch great for the last three innings of games, although Grilli did give up the unearned run today.  If the starters can go 6 or 7 innings every game, and the offense can score enough runs (a big “if”), the bullpen will have no issue continuing to close out games.

One other note is that Gorkys Hernandez has yet to make an appearance for the two days that he’s been with the big league club.  Nate McLouth replaced Yamaico Navarro, who started in left field, and got an at-bat against a lefty.  It really doesn’t make any sense to not put in Hernandez in that situation, especially because McLouth has been horrible at the plate.  Maybe we’ll see Gorkys make his debut tomorrow at 1:05.

Pirates (19-21) – Tigers (19-21)

Win: Burnett (2-2)
Loss: Smyly (1-1)
Save: Hanrahan (9)


Cutch’s two homers

Go Bucs

Cutch Among NL’s Best Center Fielders

Without question, Andrew McCutchen has been the most impressive Pirate so far this season, and he’s been tearing it up over the last couple weeks. After missing time with the stomach flu earlier this month, Cutch has come back raking. McCutchen hit two home runs in a game twice over the last three days (Thursday vs. WSH, Saturday vs. DET). He went homer-less in April, but has turned on the jets in May. This month, he is hitting .413 with 7 HR and 13 RBI. McCutchen is also terrorizing left-handed pitching. The 25-year old outfielder is carrying the Pirates offense right now. Here’s a look at how McCutchen compares with the other center fielders of the National League.

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