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Before the All-Star break, it looked like the Pittsburgh Pirates had two legitimate top of the rotation starters in A.J. Burnett and James McDonald.  Now only two weeks later McDonald looks like a back of the rotation starter at best.  Tonight’s performance in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, may have forced General Manager Neal Huntington to push the button on a deal with the Houston Astros for pitcher Wandy Rodriguez for three minor leaguers.

The Cubs got on the board first tonight with a solo shot off McDonald in the top of the first by Starlin Castro.  McDonald got into a groove for the next three innings and even saw his offense help him when Garrett Jones hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth.  The fifth inning is when the wheels fell of for McDonald tonight.

Walking three batters in an inning is never good, especially when that third walk is to the pitcher with two outs.  After an intentional walk to Luis Valbuena, McDonald had a chance to end the inning by facing former Bucco Paul Maholm, but a four pitch walk loaded the bases, and allowed David DeJesus to smack a double to put the North Siders ahead for good.

The sixth inning would be his final inning and even that did not go smooth.  Alfonso Soriano added two insurance runs on a blast to left field.  Overall it was an awful night for J-Mac, his final line read six innings pitched, five runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.  The loss also saw his ERA move over three to 3.15.

As mentioned Maholm started for the Cubs and showed why his name has been amoung trade rumors.  He would go eight innings allowing one run four hits, with seven K’s and one BB.  No Pirates batter had multiple hits and MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen was held hitless.  The offensive struggles against a poor team, sure makes me wonder when a trade for a bat or two will be made.

Well I did not think I would be saying this after a sweep of the Miami Marlins on Sunday, the Pirates will try to salvage this series and home stand tomorrow afternoon as Kevin Correia takes the hill against Ryan Dempster, unless he is traded before the 12:35 start time.

Record vs. Cubs:  3-2

Record vs. N.L. Central:  21-15

Record at Home:  32-16

Overall Record:  54-42

 

And…

As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!

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