April 13: Astros (1-5) @ Pirates (3-3) – Home Opener

Well, it’s finally Opening Day in Pittsburgh. The Pirates will begin their 81-game slate of home games on Monday before what is expected to be a sellout crowd. In the words of manager John Russell this morning: “It’s going to be a good homestand for us.” The Pirates play three games against the Astros, Braves and Marlins before getting back on the road.

Home Openers haven’t been so kind to the Pirates in recent years. They’ve lost their last four and have won just two since 1994. Yes, 1994.

For those coming to the game, bring your coats and get here early. There are a number of pregame ceremonies/festivities going on before the 1:35 p.m. ET first pitch.

Pre-game festivites are set to begin at 12:50. … Nate McLouth will receive his Rawlings Gold Glove Award at 1 p.m. … Steve Blass, who is beginning his 50th season with the club, will be honored at 1:02 p.m. … Team introductions will take place at 1:10 p.m. … The Pirates will also be wearing Pittsburgh Bureau of Police caps during the game to honor the three officers who were killed in the line of duty nine days ago. The Astros will wear the hats during pre-game introductions.

As for pregame news and notes…

  • Andy LaRoche, who is 0-for-14 this season, gets Monday off as he continues to work through his early season struggles. This will be the third time that Ramon Vazquez has started in place of LaRoche in seven games this season.
  • RHP Jeff Karstens will be available out of the bullpen on Monday for the final time before getting ready for his start on Thursday. If Karstens doesn’t get into Monday’s game, he will throw an extended simulated game after Monday’s game.
  • Triple-A starter Jimmy Barthmaier (elbow) and Single-A prospect Bryan Morris (shoulder) are both scheduled to undergo MRIs on Monday. More will be known later on Monday about the extent of their injuries. Righty Ty Taubenheim has assumed Barthmaier’s spot in Indianapolis’ rotation. Yoslan Herrera has also been promoted to Indy, where he will pitch out of the bullpen.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  2. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  3. Nate McLouth (CF)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  6. Brandon Moss (RF)
  7. Ramon Vazquez (3B)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Astros lineup:

  1. Kaz Matsui (2B)
  2. Miguel Tejada (SS)
  3. Lance Berkman (1B)
  4. Carlos Lee (LF)
  5. Hunter Pence (CF)
  6. Jason Michaels (CF)
  7. Jeff Keppinger (3B)
  8. Humberto Quintero (C)
  9. Brian Moehler (RHP)

1 Comment

I was starting to think about the Pirates rotation. So far in this early season Duke and Maholm have looked as staff aces. Ohlendorf pitched extremely well in his first start…as he looks to build on that tonight against the astros. The Pirates should think about moving Duke to the number 2 spot and Snell going to the 3 spot. This weekend against the Braves would not be the ideal situation since snell will be pitching against the recent call up from AAA and Duke is slated to go against Vasquez. But as they actually start to face opposing teams #1, #2, #3 pitchers this might allow Snell to be more successful.

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