Coming fresh off of a sweep of the Reds, putting up ten runs yesterday, the Pirates will look to take game one against the Cardinals. Tonight, they’ll face Lance Lynn. Lynn hasn’t been bad in his career against the Pirates, holding them to a .227/.312/.361 triple slash in his six career games against the Pirates. Five of those appearances came last year, in which he posted a 2-1 record with an ERA of 4.44 over a total of 24.1 innings, with similar slash numbers. Despite Lynn’s relative success against the Pirates, I like the Pirates to put some nice numbers up against him tonight. Provided the team doesn’t come out flat after a big win yesterday, and a big weekend sweep at home, there’s no reason why the Pirates can’t square the ball up well tonight.
That provision of course, is no small thing. Often times coming off as exciting of a game as the Pirates played yesterday, teams will go out and post a less than stellar outing in the next game. I trust Clint Hurdle and the veterans on the team to keep things on an even keel. Clint Hurdle might not know his head from a hole in the ground when it comes to baseball strategy, but he knows how to keep his players in the right frame of mind to play well. He’s been there, just like a lot of the players have, so he knows all the ups and downs that come with a season. Because of this, and the good play of late, I predict three things that will happen tonight from the Pirates:
1. Pedro Alvarez will hit a home run. I don’t care that he’s hitting .079 right now, I don’t care that his OBP is nearly as pathetic as his average. His career triple slash against the Cardinals is .296/.348/.576, with nine home runs, and thirty-one RBI. Pedro puts up his best numbers against the Cardinals, and that will continue tonight – and for the rest of this series.
2. Neil Walker has a big game. Watching the games so far, I’ve noticed Walker hitting a lot of balls very hard, but they just don’t seem to be falling for him very well (except yesterday, when he went 3-5). I love Neil Walker, so I might just be showing my homerism, but I look for a good game for him tonight.
3. James McDonald is shaky, but the bats and bullpen pick him up, and the Pirates win the game. The Pirates are a hot team right now, having won three in a row, and five of their last six (the one loss coming in a game where the lineup reflected how little winning that game mattered to Hurdle). I see no reason for them to cool down right now. You can always count on guys like Cutch and Walker, Marte is on fire to start the season, and El Toro seems to have no matchup that he loves more than a game against the Cardinals. Look for another high scoring game, with the Pirates raising the Jolly Roger on either another late rally, or a nice bit of shutdown work from the bullpen. Let’s go, Bucs.