The Pittsburgh Pirates take on the L.A. Dodgers today attempting to salvage a series split. The series started with the Dodgers flatter than a day old keg of Heineken. It appears to be concluding with the Dodgers having been healed by the cleansing water of the Pirates. A sure win last night against a Dodgers pitcher who couldn’t get throw his way past A league baseball for most of his career turned into a defeat on and off the field for the Bucs.
This afternoon the Bucs have a shot at redemption. The lineup features Ryan Church (nine doubles, four HR, 14RBI in last 20 vs L.A.) and Bobby Crosby, two veterans who appear to be the leaders of the team. Church and Crosby as leaders of this team is some scary stuff, but it’s probably just me that thinks that way.
Here are five keys for the last game of the longest road trip of the season:
1. Back up the talk. Ryan Doumit said late this week that the Pirates are going to give a dogfight effort. Well, I am waiting. The Bucs need to salvage a roadtrip that started with a sweep by the last place Astros, the Bucs then took two out of three from the Brewers and a win today will split the Dodgers series. I’m not a fan of 4-7 road trips, but my expectations have been, well, lowered significantly.
2. Score runs early and play smart. That is asking a lot, but the mental errors from last night need erased in a statement game from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs have scored at least one run in the first inning in each of the past four games. Seven runs total. Andrew McCutchen is 9-for-22 in the first inning. The Bucs should have been at least twelve, but that is where the smart part of the mental game comes into play. That aspect of the Pirates game has been lacking for a few years.
3. Will the Pirates look to Jeff Karstens to do the damage that Zach Duke refused to do? I hope not. I would much rather see it be a pitcher that throws hard take care of the day old business. With Dotel out with his pregnant wife, how cool will it be to see the future closer Evan Meek today?
4. Pitch inside and play defense behind Karstens. Pirates starters have went six innings in four of the last five games. The only exception was Brian Burres who pitched 5.1 scoreless innings.
5. Above all else, it’s a day when the Pirates must get a victory to help their pride. The Cubs have Dempster (2.78), Lilly (4.51) , and Wells (3.45) waiting to go on Tuesday at PNC Park. It won’t be easy. Dodgers starter RHP Hiroki Kuroda has been exceptional this year.
Garrett Jones had a piece of beef lodged in his body. Jen Langosch has the scoop. BucsBits.
Neil Walker continues to feast on RHP. Walker’s AAA page.
Michael Crotta and Michael Dubee Had A Wild Flight to AAA. Scott McCauley tells the story at this link.
The Dodgers like their Rule 5 pickup. Hell, it’s hard not to like a pitcher who yields just three hits. OC Register link is here.