It’s throwback night as James McDonald takes to the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Baltimore Orioles. JMac owns a sparkling 3.12 ERA at PNC this season. The Pirates will be in full celebration mode as many of the members of the 1971 team will be on hand at a packed PNC Park.
The Bucs typically respond well in front of a full house.
On the mound for the O’s will be Jeremy Guthrie. Apparently, he is the Orioles ace, but receives very little run support this season.
If the Pirates continue their recent trends during which they have hit .177 with runners in scoring position over the past twelve games, it might not take much support for Guthrie to notch his third win of the season.
Of couse, Andrew McCutchen will try and remain hot at home where he is hitting .500 (18-for-36) this month. Add Xavier Paul to the lineup for the Bucs tonight who has eight hits in his last seven games and is hitting .304 this month with 17 knocks. Also, Ronny Cedeno is 4-for-his past-11.
Add it all up and we think the Bucs will grab this one tonight if McDonald doesn’t show the fashionable fatigue word being used by Hurdle since last weekend.
We were concerned about McDonald early in the season when allowed 21 earned runs in his first 18.2 IP/four starts.
But since then he has dropped a 3.04 ERA on the opposition, while not always pretty, he has been damn effective. Just watch him closely tonight, especially early in the game. The speed on his fastball, the break on his breaking ball. If JMac is popping the mitt, the O’s have no chance.
If he has his breaking ball and not the heater, start drinking, it’s going to be a tight one. But JMac is a smart pitcher. A mentally tough pitcher. He has the ability to battle without his best stuff which can be argued he hasn’t had aside from two starts.
Nevertheless, we still worry about JMac. If he is showing signs of fatigue it makes little sense to keep sending him to the mound. It’s a difficult decision, but Hurdle and Huntington need to agree and make it happen. The risk is just too high. Why keep sending starters to the bump who haven’t built the stamina–for whatever the reason might be?
Success breads difficult decisions. Damn, if that doesn’t feel good. Even though it’s still a small measure of success, please don’t stomp on our buzz.
Now looking back at the Orioles starter, Jeremy Guthrie is having the kind of season that reminds one of Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm. Guthrie has been able to win only once since the season opener.
The right hander had some difficulties with his back that forced him out of his last start against those other nasty birds of the American League. Against those Blue Jays, Guthrie held the solid hitting lineup to just one hit over five innings.
In Guthrie’s career, he does well on the road in six interleague games he is rocking an ERA under 3, so let’s trust his unfamilarity with the Pirates lineup can be his downfall tonight. Maybe John Russell didn’t tell all the secrets. Yeh right.
On a seperate note, we hate playing the Orioles so many times in Spring Training. No idea why that matters to us now, it just bothers me.
As most teams from Baltimore do.