June 13: Tigers (34-27) @ Pirates (28-33)

First some photos…

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The Stanley Cup is already making its way around town. After arriving in Pittsburgh in the middle of the night and carefully being buckled into the front seat of coach Dan Bylsma’s car, the Cup was spotted in the downtown Marriott hotel early this morning. Thanks to my MLB.com colleague and Tigers writer, Jason Beck, for the photo. Little did Jason know that when he went down for breakfast this morning, the Cup would be there to greet him.

IMG00063.jpgFound this sign walking from the parking garage to the ballpark. There are no shortage of Penguins jerseys and shirts around town, and the signs/billboards are popping up everywhere. Interestingly enough, the Penguins became the first team in MLB, NBA or NHL to win a Championship Game 7 on the road since the Pirates did so in 1979.

“We’re extremely excited for the Penguins,” manager John Russell said. “It’s a great thing for the city. It just shows what type of atmosphere this city is about and how proud they are of their sports teams. We want that same here. Pretty soon, hopefully we’ll be battling for three Championships.”

***

Clubhouse news and notes…

  • Still no final word on whether RHP Charlie Morton (strained right hamstring) will be able to start on Tuesday. He did throw a bullpen session today, with Russell watching, and did some running. He’ll do some more work on Sunday, after which the Pirates will determine whether he can go as scheduled. If Morton can’t start on Tuesday, Paul Maholm would move up a day as would the rest of the rotation. With the off day on Monday, they’d all still be pitching on normal four days of rest.
  • Brandon Moss is out of the lineup today and will be as well on Sunday with lefty Dontrelle Willis pitching. Moss is hitless in his last 15 at-bats and has gone just 4-for-28 in June. There’s no question he’s fighting himself at the plate and that’s he lost whatever progress he had made in mid-May with his approach at the plate.

“He’s fighting himself and it’s tough for him to get in the position he wants to be in to hit,” Russell said. “When you’re not getting hits, you start to press and try to do too much and you’re not free and easy at the plate. He needs to relax a little bit. Hopefully he can regroup a little bit and can get back to swinging the bat the way he’s capable of.”

  • Delwyn Young makes the start in place of Moss today. (Craig Monroe likely will tomorrow agaisnt the left-hander.) Young is the only Pirate to homer since June 2 (yikes!) and has hit .351 with eight RBIs in his first nine starts in right field.
  • Spoke with RHP Jeff Karstens, who said he felt good after not throwing for the last two days. Even as a starter, Karstens was throwing almost every day in between starts, making a few days off now quite beneficial. He seems plenty content with his role right now and pleased that he’s finally found delivery mechanics to stick with. It seems like he’s been changing and tweaking things ever since the start of Spring Training, but on Wednesday, Karstens went back to not putting his hands over his head during his delivery, liked how that felt and is not going back. 

***

The College World Series kicked off on Saturday with Arkansas and Cal State Fullerton meeting in the first game. The game, which Arkansas is winning 10-4 in the eighth right now, was on inside the Pirates’ clubhouse, much to the pleasure of Eric Hinske, a former Razorback himself.

“It’s cool,” Hinske said of Arkansas’ appearance in Omaha. “I never made it to the World Series. Back when I was in college, they only had the Regionals, there were no Super Regionals. We went to the Regional every year but lost. But when you’re in college, it’s definitely your dream to get to the World Series, for sure. I never got to get there, but I’m happy for the Razorbacks.”

***

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Nyjer Morgan (LF)
  3. Freddy Sanchez (2B)
  4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  5. Delwyn Young (RF)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Jack Wilson (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Tigers lineup:

  1. Ryan Raburn (CF)
  2. Placido Polanco (2B)
  3. Marcus Thames (LF)
  4. Miguel Cabrera (1B)
  5. Magglio Ordonez (RF)
  6. Brandon Inge (3B)
  7. Gerald Laird (C)
  8. Adam Everett (SS)
  9. Armando Galarraga (RHP)  

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