The Pittsburgh Pirates youth has served them well in 2011. A win tonight or tomorrow would give them an achievement they haven’t accomplished since 2007. Back-to-back road series wins. Yeh, that’s a fact. The Young Bucs can take another road series tonight with a win in St. Louis. Two talented players have carried the Bucs through the first four games. Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen have provided timely hitting and showed power in clutch situations to stake the Pirates to an encouraging 3-1 start.
Another young player will be on the bump tonight in right hander James McDonald. The starter comes into the game with some question marks, as he has battled an oblique injury in spring training. He will attempt to match the impressive numbers the Bucs rotation has put up. Early in the season, the Bucs staff ranks near the top of the league as they are currently fourth with a 2.83 ERA.
McDonald has fared well against the Cardinals in a small sample. He has pitched 10.1 innings and allowed three earned runs.
The gentlemen at Rant Sports are killing it with their Diamond Gems series. Be sure to check out these interviews with Hometown, the switch hitter, and Cutch, the long ball hitter. [NOTE: @ericmac26 tells everyone to listen closely to Ronny Cedeno in the background of the Walker video]
Road Warrior Watch:
The Pirates have three wins away from PNC Park in 2011
Young Guns Watch:
Jose Tabata is 6-for-14 from leadoff spot with three walks.
Neil Walker is hitting .412. He has driven in seven runs.
Andrew McCutchen has hit two clutch homeruns in three games. Cutch is batting .400 with RISP
Pedro Alvarez has three hits in six at-bats with RISP.
Not So Young Gun Watch:
GFJ has been on base in all four games, hitting safely in three.
Joel Hanrahan has retired the first batter he has faced all three times. The opposition is batting .167 off the Pirates closer.
Know the No-Hittin Enemy on the Mound:
The Cardinals will send RHP Kyle McClellan to the bump tonight. (2010: 1-4, 2.27 ERA)
The 2002 25th round selection by St.Louis, Kyle McClellan was used in relief last season by the Cards. He was damn effective against the Pirates as well as most teams in the league. He led the Cards bullpen in numerous categories.
Against the Bucs in September, he threw on three seperate times for a total of three innings and the righty allowed no hits. An inning in July saw him get two strikeouts and again allowed no Pirates to record a hit. Two seperate appearances in May again yielded no hits for the Bucs over two innings.
How well McClellan returns to a starter’s role could be the tipping point for the Cardinals. He was able to beat out RumBunter favorite Ian Snell for the fifth spot. It’s hard to see the Bucs having much success against him, but there is one flaw based on past performances against the Pirates young guns.
Plate patience will be the key as McClellan is known to walk a few batters and if the Pirates continue to show good plate awareness they will have a solid shot in taking this series. Just like we told you in the preview.
One of our interviews with Neil Walker is available in the clip below.
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