This afternoon, Jeff Locke will get his shot to stop a scuffling Pittsburgh Pirates club. The Bucco left-hander will get the start in a three-game series against the Houston Astros at PNC Park. The rocket has a lot to prove after four starts last September when he struggled to get deep in the games and rocked a nearly six-and-a-half ERA.
Locke pitched just 4.1 scoreless innings earlier this season, when the Bucs controlled their destiny with a postseason berth in hand. He was sharp as hell. For some reason, that was all he pitched.
As Pittsburgh welcomes back Locke, the situation is entirely different. No longer the hunted, the Bucs are now the hunter.
The Pirates are now in fourth place in the Wild Card standings–sitting a game-and-a-half behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who just lost two against the Washington Nationals. The Bucs starting pitching has been hideous during the extended skid the Pirates are in currently.
The Buccos are looking for a spark, and trust they can find it with Locke. The lefty made four starts last season and will toe the rubber for the first time as a starter in 2012.
“Things were going good in Triple-A, and I’ll try to carry over some of that confidence here, and attack them. I’m excited. It’s nice to be here. My confidence is through the roof. It won’t be any easier, but it’ll be a lot more comfortable.”
The Astros will turn to Edgar Gonzalez, who will make his ML debut. Houston recalled Gonzalez from Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two starts for the RedHawks. Prior to OK City, Gonzalez played in the Mexican League.
While Gonzalez was impersonating Kenny Powers, Locke was putting up solid numbers for Triple-A Indianapolis, where he had a 2.48 ERA in 24 starts.
Locke impressed at Triple-A, where Indianapolis is the top dog heading into the International League playoffs. The Astros also made several moves to call up players from the OKC RedHawks, who like Indy, are in the hunt for a Triple-A championship.