May 14: Pirates (14-20) @ Cubs (15-20)
Friday’s game begins a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, which will take the team into June. Depending on how things go — particularly if it’s to one extreme or the other — this three-week period could also set the season on its final course.
The Pirates enter this series on the heels of four straight losses, the last three to a Cincinnati team that gave up just one earned run. The Pirates haven’t scored since Monday, and they’ve had just 10 hits since Sunday’s game ended.
The numbers are not pretty. And since I feel like I’ve rehashed them enough already, I’ll stop there. Maybe the only bit of good news is that the wind is currently blowing out of Wrigley Field.
TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:
- You’ll notice that shortstop Ronny Cedeno is back in the lineup after nursing a sore wrist these last few days.
- Ryan Church’s wrist is improving, too, enough to where Russell said the outfielder could likely have started today if needed. Plan on seeing Church start Saturday’s game.
- Right-hander Brendan Donnelly threw 25 pitches off the Wrigley Field mound on Friday as he works his way back from an oblique strain. Donnelly is scheduled to throw another side session on Sunday and then pitch a simulated game in Philadelphia early next week. That has him on target to come off the DL when the Pirates return home next week, as expected.
- You heard it here first: Pirates broadcaster John Wehner has predicted home runs from Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche today. The fact that the two have a combined three all season makes me a bit skeptical, but I wanted to make sure to document the prediction so Wehner can get credit if he’s right.
- Here’s another one of those not-so-pretty notes from Elias: Three times this season a team has been outhit by 14 hits. Two times the Pirates have been involved. They were outhit, 25-8, by the Brewers on April 22. The Reds then outhit the Pirates, 15-1, on Tuesday.
- Second baseman Aki Iwamura remains atop the Pirates’ lineup despite his .169 average and .267 on-base percentage. Even worse, Iwamura has gone 2-for-35 since the beginning of May. Still, the struggling infielder is going to stay in the lineup for now — which you can read more about on pirates.com in a bit. I know that many of you (since I have heard from you) disagree, but you can find manager John Russell’s explanation for sticking with Iwamura in today’s story.
- Left-hander Brian Burres enters Friday having pitched 13 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. Only Evan Meek, who didn’t allow a run during a 15-inning stretch from April 15 to May 7, has gone longer for the Pirates this season.
- A Pirates alumni update: Former closer Matt Capps has as many saves for Washington as the Pirates have wins (14).
- Another former Pittsburgh pitcher, Tom Gorzelanny, makes the start against the Pirates on Friday. He has allowed one earned run on three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings against Pittsburgh since being traded to Chicago.
- Aki Iwamura (2B)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Garrett Jones (RF)
- Ryan Doumit (C)
- Lastings Milledge (LF)
- Steve Pearce (1B)
- Ronny Cedeno (SS)
- Brian Burres (LHP)
- Ryan Theriot (2B)
- Marlon Byrd (CF)
- Derrek Lee (1B)
- Xavier Nady (RF)
- Aramis Ramirez (3B)
- Alfonso Soriano (LF)
- Geovany Soto (C)
- Starlin Castro (SS)
- Tom Gorzelanny (LHP)
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