The Pittsburgh Pirates are out west to face the well rested, NL best, Colorado Rockies tonight. If not for some extra innings poetry, the Rockies would have swept the Bucs in the opening series at PNC Park. But since the opener the Pirates have actually had some solid pitching from its’ starters.
In the past six games, the starters have went 55 innings and allowed just 14 earned runs. The team ERA is now 3.76 although some of the peripherals aren’t as strong.
The bullpen has been a major story for the Pirates and have been very effective. The 2.28 ERA of the Bucco bullpen is second in the majors. Some more great numbers show that in the past 35.2 innings pitched, the pen has allowed just four earned runs.
If the bullpen can maintain even a close resemblance of the work it has completed early on in 2011, it will be a major strength especially with even more depth boiling in the minors. The work Chris Resop has done lately is highlight reel worthy. Resop has struckout seven of the past 16 batters and in 32.1 innings pitched since being claimed from Atlanta last season and has allowed just six earned runs. Hell, even Daniel McCutchen has been lights out coming out of the bullpen as the Pirates long man since his call-up.
The Bucs are over .500 on the road and have split the past six games in Colorado.
Carlos Gonzalez is hitting .214 with one bomb this season. CarGo is also well rested since he wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday and the Rox got rained out Wednesday. Gonzalez has made a living off Pirates pitching lately. He had three hits in a game against the Bucs twenty days ago. He also has a pair of homers off Pirates starter Kevin Correia in his career.
Neil Walker has been the opposite of CarGo since being placed in the cleanup spot, Walker is hitting .340 with 16 knocks in 47 at-bats. The Buccos offense has been dismal of late. Scoring runs has been difficult and in the past nine games the Pirates have had more than 10 hits only once.
This game will certainly lie on the shoulders of Correia. He looked like a BP pitcher on Monday against the Nats. Eleven hits, five runs, two jacks in just 4.2 innings. In the start prior, he went the distance. So it will be interesting to see which pitcher shows up tonight. The fly ball prone Correia or the down in the zone right hander.
It’s about time Correia gets it turned around in Colorado, he has never won against the Rox with an ERA over 8. Now if only the Bucco offense can come alive, the Pirates might have a shot at knocking off the current kings of the NL.
The Rockies will pitch Jhoulys Chacin who has been very strong at Coors Field this season. He didn’t pitch well against the Bucs at PNC Park earlier in the month and a repeat performance would be just what Clint Hurdle orders tonight.
It won’t be easy for Pirates hitters however. Chacin hasn’t allowed the opposistion to score in 16 innings coming into tonight. How great would it be for the Bucs to crack that streak wide open early in the game tonight?
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