04/08: Dodgers (0-2) @ Pirates (2-0)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates are on pace to win 162. Garrett Jones is on pace to hit 243 home runs. D.J. Carrasco, Evan Meek, Brendan Donnelly and Octavio Dotel are on pace to appear in every game this season.

OK, I only say this tongue-in-cheek to remind you that we are only two days in. And obviously it’s hard to make any definitive conclusions after two games. I don’t say this to sap the excitement that two thrilling wins have provided the fan base. I say it just to make sure we all stay in reality.

As for what I do think we can conclude… here are three things:

1. This team has some resolve and fight in them. Now, we’ll see if that maintains through the downs that are inevitable. But for now, you have to like the way the team fights.

2. This bullpen has the potential to be pretty good. Dotel is not going to get out of a jam like he did Wednesday every night. No one does. But the mix of looks and the mix of experience in that ‘pen sure does seem better than what the Pirates have had in recent years.

3. These players are confident that they can compete with anyone. Call it being naive if you’d like, but they don’t feel outmatched. Certainly, that’s part of the battle.

OK, as for your pregame notes…

  • Forecast still doesn’t look exceptionally good for this afternoon. The rain has stalled a bit but is still on its way. A rain delay isn’t what the Pirates need for many reasons, one of which is that their bullpen has already been worked pretty hard these last few days. The Pirates’ freshest arm is Hayden Penn, and his ability to go multiple innings could be critical if the Pirates do endure a rain delay.
  • Manager John Russell did say all relievers are available today if needed, though, for at least a little work.
  • Bobby Crosby, Delwyn Young and Ryan Church get their first starts of the season with the day game coming after a long night game. They are replacing Lastings Milledge, Jeff Clement and Ronny Cedeno. It’s hard to see much of a drop off there, which is a plus.
  • Charlie Morton is preparing for his start in Arizona on Friday and since I didn’t mention it earlier this week, he did throw most recently on Sunday. Morton stayed behind in Bradenton to throw 60 pitches (four innings) in a Double-A intrasquad game on Sunday to give him one more tuneup before the regular season start.
  • Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic (aka Mike and Mike) will be throwing out today’s ceremonial first pitch.
  • The Pirates are 2-0 for the first time since 2007. That Pittsburgh club swept a three-game set with the Astros to start the season.
  • Though the Pirates are just 10-24 against the Dodgers at PNC Park, Pittsburgh has won five of the last six meetings here. That includes taking three of four against LA late last September.
  • Two Minor League notes of interest (repeats from yesterday): Joel Hanrahan begins his Minor League rehab assignment with high-A Bradenton today. Kevin Hart will make the Opening Day start for Triple-A Indy tonight.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  3. Garrett Jones (1B)
  4. Ryan Doumit (C)
  5. Ryan Church (LF)
  6. Delwyn Young (RF)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Paul Maholm (LHP)
  9. Bobby Crosby (SS)

Dodgers lineup:

  1. Rafael Furcal (SS)
  2. Reed Johnson (LF)
  3. Matt Kemp (CF)
  4. James Loney (1B)
  5. Ronnie Belliard (3B)
  6. Garret Anderson (RF)
  7. Jamey Carroll (2B)
  8. Brad Ausmus (C)
  9. Chad Billingsley (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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