April 17: Braves (5-4) @ Pirates (4-5)

UPDATE, 5:50 p.m: Shortstop Jack Wilson has just been scratched from the starting lineup. We didn’t get an official diagnosis, but I’m assuming that the bruised left middle finger that kept Wilson out on Wednesday bothered him enough during BP to warrant another day off.

Wilson did play on Thursday, going 0-for-3 with a walk and sacrifice. Ramon Vazquez will make the start in place of Wilson.

***

I have to admit that I’m intrigued by the pitching matchup tonight with Paul Maholm going against young righty Jair Jurrjens (2-0, 2.45 ERA so far in 2009), and not just because it has the potential to be a quick game. No matter how many games I see with this job, a good pitching matchup never gets old. Let’s just hope it lives up to my expectations.

As for pregame news and notes:

  • Delwyn Young arrived in Pittsburgh this morning after a red-eye from LA and is available to play tonight if needed. Luis Cruz was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Young on the roster.
  • Manager John Russell had to use five relievers in Thursday’s game, which highlights how much the club could use a deep start by Maholm. Russell said he would like to stay away from having to use Craig Hansen on Friday since Hansen has pitched on back-to-back days.
  • Cruz had been Russell’s emergency third catcher, and with Cruz now gone Russell was asked about his next option. “That’s a good question,” Russell responded. Let’s all hope we never need to know the answer.

Having grown up just outside of Atlanta, I try to still keep an eye on what’s going on with the Braves, and it’s evident that the team taking the field for Bobby Cox on Friday isn’t exactly his ideal nine. SS Yunel Escobar and 3B Chipper Jones are both out with day-to-day injuries. Escobar has a strained abdominal muscle, while Jones is nursing a bruised left thumb. There’s a chance that both could be back in the lineup this weekend.

The Braves come into the series with a bullpen ERA of 6.60, giving the Pirates plenty of reason to believe they should be able to score late.

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. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS) Ramon Vazquez
  9. Paul Maholm (LHP)

Braves lineup:

  1. Kelly Johnson (2B)
  2. Omar Infante (SS)
  3. Matt Diaz (LF)
  4. Brian McCann (C)
  5. Jeff Francoeur (RF)
  6. Martin Prado (3B)
  7. Casey Kotchman (1B)
  8. Jordan Schafer (CF)
  9. Jair Jurrjens (RHP)    

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