The Pirates are two-thirds of the way through their longest home stand of the season thus far, and as of today, they’ve held their own against two N.L. opponents, that, well, are at opposite ends of the spectrum. While it’s quite apparent that the Cincinnati Reds, who beat the Pirates in two of three games last weekend, have been underperforming so far in 2012, it can be argued that the Washington Nationals are playing a little beyond their means. Still, though, it was a huge response after the disappointing set against the Reds, for the Pirates to beat the Nats in two of three games at PNC Park, setting up the home-stand finale series against the Houston Astros.
Andrew McCutchen, following his brief absence from the lineup, has been on a tear as of late, much to the delight of Bucs’ fans. Unfortunately, Pedro Alvarez has cooled off considerably. In fact, since being moved into the cleanup spot, he has yet to tally a hit, with his last knock being exactly a week ago. Neil Walker and Jose Tabata are swinging hot, confident bats, while Alex Presley’s surprisingly extensive hitting slump continues. Clint Barmes’ average is still putrid, while Rod Barajas, even after his walk-off two-run homerun the other night, is still struggling mightily at the plate.
From a pitching standpoint, the Pirates are still impressive. A.J. Burnett had a strong night against the Nationals in a huge comeback game following one of the worst of his career last week against the St. Louis Cardinals. Even last night, despite giving up three runs and ended up being the losing pitcher, Kevin Correia pitched solidly throughout the game. Erik Bedard’s back spasms injury doesn’t appear to be all that serious, but given his history, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
After 31 games this season, the Pirates own a 14-17 record, which is identical to their opponent this weekend, the Houston Astros. The word buzzing around the Houston area is that this team is quietly having a great start to the season, considering the roster and expectations. Are they the Pirates of last year? We’ll see. They are getting a wide range of contributors offensively, with different players leading the club in batting average (Jose Altuve), homeruns (Jed Lowrie), RBIs (J.D. Martinez), and runs scored (Jordan Schafer). Wandy Rodriguez continues to be the ace on the mound, though, with a 2.14 ERA in just over 46 innings pitched. Both are tops on the team.
Astros (14-17) vs. Pirates (14-17)
About the Astros…
14-17 Record, 3rd In N.L. Central
Last Series: 1-2 Series Loss Vs. Miami Marlins
5/11 – Bud Norris (HOU) (2-1, 4.58 ERA, 33 K, 13 BB, WHIP 1.39) vs. James McDonald (PIT) (2-1, 2.70 ERA, 31 K, 13 BB, WHIP 1.09)
5/12 – J.A. Happ (HOU) (2-2, 5.24 ERA, 34 K, 16 BB, WHIP 1.57) vs. Charlie Morton (PIT) (1-3, 4.61 ERA, 20 K, 8 BB, WHIP 1.46)
5/13 – Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) (3-3, 2.14 ERA, 29 K, 12 BB, WHIP 1.08) vs. A.J. Burnett (PIT) (1-2, 6.08 ERA, 27 K, 7 BB, WHIP 1.44)
Quotes From Both Sides:
[box_dark] “You can’t win every game, but if we play the way we did Wednesday, I think we’ll be alright more often than not.” [/box_dark]
Astros’ Brian Bogusevic on team’s recent loss to Miami
[box_dark] “I needed to be efficient. If I could take back a pitch or two, it could have been a pretty good game. When you’re facing one of the better pitchers in the league you’ve got little room for error and that cost us the game.” [/box_dark]
Kevin Correia on facing the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg last night
The Pirates are currently 3-3 on this home stand, with a strong opportunity to win this series over the weekend and take some confidence out on the road next week. Despite their struggles in recent years, the Astros do always play the Pirates tough, including Wandy Rodriguez, who will pitch Sunday afternoon. The left-hander is 2-1 with 13 strikeouts in 21 innings against the Bucs in his last three starts against them.
Following this weekend’s series, the Pirates hit the road for a seven game trip against the Miami Marlins for a pair of games, then to Washington for two against the Nationals, followed by an interleague series against the Detroit Tigers. Check back here for recaps and reactions to every Pirates’ game from us, the Fans From The Stands!
Let’s Go Bucs!