Before the season began, the Pirates' biggest worry was their starting rotation. 80% of the way through the first turn, the rotation has been one of the team's strong suits. Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and Charlie Morton have all given the Pirates a chance to win at the very least and they're a big part of why the team is 3-1 and could be 4-0. None of those four were even expected to be the best Pirate starter in 2011; that honor goes to tonight's starter, James McDonald.
McDonald missed most of spring training with a side injury, though, so it's hard to know what to expect from him tonight. He had trouble with high pitch counts last year because of his tendency to work deep into counts, so I'm honestly a bit worried about what he'll do tonight if they have him on, say, and 80-90 pitch leash. It could be a Jeff Karstens kind of night.
That said, McDonald is still easily one of the most talented pitchers on the staff; the way he works his 94 mph fastball and his big curve together can be a thing of beauty. I have a PitchFX post that I got half-done about his changeup before I went to spring training, but that's the pitch to keep an eye on tonight. Whenever he can make hitters swing and miss at his changeup, he goes to the next level.
McDonald draws Kyle McClellan in his first start of his Major League career after three years in the Cards' bullpen. In fact, he hasn't regularly started since 2004. He was pretty excellent in spring training, though, giving up 12 hits and two runs in 23 spring innings spread out across five starts. The Pirates best hope may be to make him throw some pitches early and hope that he tires out as the game wears on. With Chris Carpenter looming in tomorrow's get-away game, it'd be great to see the Bucs lock up a series win tonight and clinch a winning record for Thursday's home opener before having to face Carp.
First pitch tonight is at 8:15.
The turkey for Pedro.
Also, it looks like Pirate pitchers are the only one subjected to that "small strike zone" tonight.
Sucks that Resop/Olson got tagged for that run. Small strike zone, no hard hit balls, still gave up a run.
The arrogance of these Cardinals announcers is really something. "We're beating ourselves and why aren't we scoring 48 runs against these sucky pitchers?" I was ready to throw something yesterday when they suggested Hurdle bringing in Hanrahan in the 8th was a desperation move... HOW DARE THE PIRATES ATTEMPT TO WIN GAMES IN APRIL!
Cards announcer 1: The Cards have been killed by double plays this year.
Skip Schumaker: sharp grounder to Walker
Cards announcer 2: Aaaaand there's a double play.
that RBI was karma - no way we could hold onto luck from the top of the 1st. had to happen. ignore it.
also, "Does anyone really exist? Aren’t we all just someone that someone else made up?" could actually make me like Brewers fans...
i am the zen master of pirate fans.
@Carnegie Chip Definitely not consistent.
@Carnegie Chip You really think he could've made a play on that ball? Looked pretty well out of his reach to me.
@bwzimmerman Hurdle sure likes making sure everybody in the bullpen gets their chance to pitch...
Can't really be mad about Olson here. That 0-2 pitch was right down the middle and he didn't get a call.
@bwzimmerman He was just in there for the lefties.
Clint F'n Rawhide Hurdle, that's who. @whygavs
@bwzimmerman Batista's all over the place.
@cityStatic Are those baby tomatoes or candy?
@cityStatic I don't get what the point is.
@Carnegie Chip These guys are clueless. They have no idea why John Bowker is a Pirate and not a Giant.
@Carnegie Chip Yeah, these guys are driving me nuts. This is exactly why I pay the extra $20 for announcer choice on MLB.tv. But Root wasn't in HD tonight, so I switched back.
@cityStatic JMac struggled with control, Overbay bomb, Bucs striking out a ton.
@bwzimmerman Weird, though, to let him face Pujols first.
@bwzimmerman I think you might be overthinking this ...
5 innings... just 5 innings... @whygavs
@whygavs What the @& ! That pitch wasn't even close!
@whygavs I'm not saying it's an automatic out but I watch a lot of Rays games and Longo would've made that play. Pedro has improved but his range still strikes me as very limited. What's his UZR?
i'm subject to the radio tonight – relying on Tim and Rock's insight on Weird Al's choice of secondary education... @Canadianna
@bwzimmerman Of course he would.
and he follows with a stolen base? @whygavs
@whygavs Earlier in the game, they actually said Chuck Tanner was the manager during the Pirates last winning season. Uh...
@whygavs sure, but notice how many hits Ronny has in relation to mental errors.
the universe deplores a vaccuum at shortstop...
@bwzimmerman Yeah, it's not that he looks bad. Just a bit rusty.
"San Luis Obispo" for those wondering... @Canadianna
@bwzimmerman Hit and run, awful pitch, Laird dropped it.
@Carnegie Chip Latest gem: "Ryan's always had that good on-base percentage"
RYAN THERIOT? SERIOUSLY?!