Results tagged ‘ Aki Iwamura ’

June 2: Cubs (24-29) @ Pirates (22-31)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

MLB released All-Star Game online voting totals on Tuesday, and once again, the Pirates didn’t have a player dent the Top 5 (or Top 15 with outfielders). The glaring omission, obviously, has to be center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

Consider that he entered Wednesday…

  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with a .310 batting average
  • Ranked 6th among all NL outfielders with a .385 on-base percentage
  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with 13 stolen bases
  • Ranked 2nd among all NL outfielders with 61 hits

Sure, McCutchen is not among the HR and RBI leaders, but that’s not where he is expected to be. There’s no doubt that McCutchen has caught the idea of players/coaches/managers around the league all year — I’m always getting quotes (unsolicited) about the outfielder from our MLB.com writers covering other teams — but he’s just not getting the public recognition his season deserves. Part of that likely has to do with the fact that he doesn’t play for a big-market team or for a top club. We’ll see if it changes as the month progresses.

Voting will continue online at MLB.com for another month. You can cast your vote here. Updated NL voting totals will be released weekly.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • This moustache and high socks fad has caught on in the clubhouse, but I’m going to make you read more about Bobby Crosby’s initial challenge to grow out the facial hair in the Pirates Beat on the main site a little later. Don’t expect to see any razors until the team loses.
  • In case you missed it after last night’s game, lefty Jack Taschner has been activated off the DL and Steven Jackson was optioned back to Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • First baseman Steve Pearce (sprained right ankle) was cleared to hit off the tee on Wednesday for the first time. “Moving on up,” he said, smiling. He has not yet begun any sort of running. That will be last on the list.
  • Starter Chris Jakubauskas is headed to Bradenton, Fla., tomorrow to continue his throwing program. He threw two sides here and will throw at least two more sides and two sessions of batting practice down there before the Pirates continue a Minor League rehab assignment. The best news continues to be that he is feeling no more effects from being hit in the head on a line drive.
  • Outfielder Ryan Church may have come back from a bruised right wrist injury weeks ago, but he said on Wednesday that this series has marked the first time since the initial injury (May 7) that the wrist hasn’t affected him.
  • Jeff Karstens is likely to start for the Pirates on Sunday, though manager John Russell hesitated to say that was etched in stone. Newly-acquired Dana Eveland is unlikely to be ready to join the rotation by then. And Brian Burres is being skipped.
  • As for Burres, Russell said he’d be a bullpen option tonight, but the plans for him moving forward were fuzzy. That sure seems to suggest that he might be on his way out when Eveland arrives on Friday. The numbers just don’t seem to add up otherwise.
  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly held his monthly online chat on Wednesday, and here is the transcript. Coonelly discussed the Draft throughout, and to complement that, I’ll have two Draft stories coming out over the next two days to go into more detail on the Pirates’ Draft plans.
  • While we’re talking Draft, MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo made his latest first-round predictions on Wednesday. His guess at who the Pirates will take with the No. 2 pick? High school shortstop Manny Machado. Though he cautions everyone not to count out high school pitcher Jameson Taillon. Here is Mayo’s full list.
  • For those of you not close enough to get FSN Pittsburgh, MLB Network has announced that it will be telvising Stephen Strasburg’s Major League debut against the Pirates next Tuesday. You had to figure that was coming…
  • Recently benched second baseman Aki Iwamura was out taking groundballs at third base this afternoon. Iwamura played third during his time in Japan, and the Pirates are refamiliarizing him with the position so that he can be an option there off the bench.
  • How good have the Pirates been against the Cubs this year? Well, the team is 7-1 and has won five straight games against Chicago at PNC Park. That comes after the Pirates went 1-8 in their previous nine against the Cubs. Garrett Jones and McCutchen have been especially potent against Chicago pitching — the two have combined to go 27-for-53 with four homers, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates’ seven wins this season while scoring three or fewer runs trails only the Padres, who have won 12 times while scoring no more than three runs.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Neil Walker (2B)
  3. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  4. Garrett Jones (1B)
  5. Ryan Church (RF)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (2B)
  2. Jeff Baker (RF)
  3. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  4. Xavier Nady (1B)
  5. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Starlin Castro (SS)
  9. Carlos Zambrano (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 31: Cubs (24-27) @ Pirates (20-31)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The blog is back, as am I after a much-welcomed getaway to Europe over the past two weeks. And as Lastings Milledge informed me in the clubhouse this morning, there will not be any more European adventures in my future since the team didn’t do so well during my absence. We’ll see about that…

Let’s jump right back in, but not before I thank all the men and women serving this country in the military. Thank you for what you do. And a special shout out to all you Pirates fans overseas who stay connected by reading this blog. I know there some of you since I have received notes from you. Thank you.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Manager John Russell announced that Neil Walker will be the team’s regular second baseman moving forward. Walker has hit safely in four of his first six games since being promoted last Tuesday. And with Aki Iwamura never finding his footing this season, the switch has been made. Iwamura, who is the highest paid player on the club, will be moved into a bench role after having nearly two months to get back on track.
  • Walker might also spell Andy LaRoche some time at third base if LaRoche continues to have any back issues. But the goal is to have Walker get comfortable at second, a position that he began playing only in Spring Training.
  • With Iwamura out of the lineup, the Pirates will use Andrew McCutchen as their primary leadoff hitter. Russell liked what McCutchen offered out of the No. 3 spot, but they have little other choice than to use him at the top of the lineup. For now, Walker is hitting second. Russell would not commit to him staying there, but said noted that it’s been a good fit thus far.
  • While I was gone, lefty Donnie Veal was placed on the Triple-A DL with soreness above the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He is scheduled to visit with Dr. James Andrews later this week. A visit to Dr. Andrews often isn’t a good thing, as Kevin Hart was reminded of earlier this month.
  • The Pirates reacquired Jonathan Van Every from the Red Sox in exchange for infield Josue Peley. Pittsburgh had dealt Van Every to Boston on April 24. Van Every will join Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday.
  • Spoke with Chris Jakubauskas this morning, and he remains encouraged with his progress. He threw 30 pitches (all fastballs) on Saturday and is scheduled to throw 40-45 in his next session on Tuesday. He’ll likely mis in some sinkers and changeups this time.
  • Steve Pearce (sprained right ankle) has had his protective boot removed and is walking with hardly a limp. Pearce said the ankle is still sensative in spots, but that it is improving.
  • Lefty Jack Taschner will make his second Minor League rehab appearance with Double-A Altoona later tonight. Taschner is eligible to come off the DL later this week.
  • Former Pirates reliever John Grabow has been placed on the DL with a left MCL sprain on Monday. That means the Cubs lefty won’t be facing his former team in this series.
  • A reminder to women interested: Milledge will host a “Bats Against Breast Cancer” baseball clinic from 7:45 am – 1:35 pm before the team’s game against the Giants on Sunday. For those interested in more details, go here.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Neil Walker (2B)
  3. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Church (LF)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C)
  7. Jeff Clement (1B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Kosuke Fukudome (RF)
  2. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  5. Mike Fontenot (2B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Starlin Castro (SS)
  9. Randy Wells (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 19: Brewers (15-24) @ Pirates (17-22)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

A few housekeeping items to take care of before getting to the afternoon’s news and notes…

  1. I wanted to introduce you to Matt Fortuna, who, beginning today, will be helping with Pirates coverage throughout the summer. You’ll be seeing his byline a lot, and you can follow him on twitter (@Matt_Fortuna) as he tweets Bucco-related news, too.
  2. So no one panics, I also wanted to let everyone know that this is the last game I will be covering until May 31. I am leaving tomorrow to head to Europe for 10 days and so I’ll be off the beat for a bit. Hopefully the break will get me refreshed enough for the grind of four more months of baseball when I return. You’ll be in good hands while I’m MIA, but the blog will obviously be on hiatus.

Now on to the important stuff…

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Manager John Russell confirmed that RHP Brendan Donnelly will be activated off the DL on Thursday. A corresponding move will have to be made, and I’m still thinking it’s possible that the move could hinge on Brian Burres’ performance tonight. Another subpar outing and Burres could be nixed from the rotation.
  • Second baseman Aki Iwamura is still day-to-day with the tight right hamstring. He can pinch hit, as he did on Monday and Tuesday in Philly, but the running is still an issue. Bobby Crosby gets the start in Iwamura’s place tonight after Delwyn Young made the last two.
  • Maybe redemption isn’t the best word, but the Pirates are sure looking to fare better against the Brewers in this brief two-game series than they did when Milwaukee came to town last month. You might remember that the club was outscored 36-1 then. We won’t repeat that again.
  • OF Quincy Latimore hit another grand slam for the Bradenton Marauders last night, which gives him three already this season. That ties a Florida State League record. The outfield prospect entered Wednesday hitting .253 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 37 games this year.
  • The Brewers enter PNC Park having been swept in their last three series (0-8). For whatever reason, though, most of their problems have been at home. The Brewers are 4-14 at Miller Park, yet 11-10 on the road. Go figure.
  • After spending most of the season with the league’s worst ERA, the Pirates (5.68) have now climbed above the D-backs (5.75). The next target is Milwaukee (5.25).

Pirates lineup:

  1. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  2. Bobby Crosby (2B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Steve Pearce (1B)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Brian Burres (LHP)

Brewers lineup:

  1. Rickie Weeks (2B)
  2. Alcides Escobar (SS)
  3. Ryan Braun (LF)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (3B)
  6. Corey Hart (RF)
  7. Gregg Zaun (C)
  8. Jody Gerut (CF)
  9. Randy Wolf (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 18: Pirates (16-22) @ Phillies (24-13)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s cold and it’s overcast, but maybe we can get this game in tonight without any significant delays. The players certainly don’t want to get home at 3-4 am. And those of us who have to wait until tomorrow morning to fly out would appreciate some sleep. So hopefully the rain cooperates.

You’d have to think, too, that if this game starts, the Phillies are not going to want there to be any sort of delay since Roy Halladay is on the mound. Worst-case scenario for them is to send Halladay out and then have a lengthy delay shortly after that takes him out of the start.

This isn’t the first time Zach Duke and Halladay have matched up. The last was a dandy one, too. You can revisit it here.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Forgot to note this yesterday, but with all the questions I get about when Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata will be up, I felt it appropriate to write a story on the subject. If you missed it on Monday, here’s that piece. While I know Alvarez is the biggest name in the bunch, my guess is that he won’t be the first up. My guess is that it will be Lincoln. The right-hander is meeting the organization’s development goals consistently these days, and Brian Burres’ hold on the fifth spot in the rotation isn’t exactly firm. If Burres slips up on Wednesday or in the start after that, I can see the Pirates making the move.
  • As mentioned on Monday, the Pirates are still looking for their first winning road trip under manager John Russell. No easy task with Halladay on the mound, but Pittsburgh can clinch that with a win tonight.
  • Reliever Brendan Donnelly threw a pain-free side session indoors on Tuesday. His simulated game couldn’t happen because of the crummy weather. All went well, Donnelly said, and the Pirates plan to activate him off the DL on Thursday or Friday.
  • Who is the most likely to go when Donnelly returns? My guess is it would be either Jeff Karstens or Burres. If the Pirates want to make a change in the rotation, Burres could be sent out and the club would have a few extra days before making a decision about the rotation. That might be why the Pirates aren’t planning on activating Donnelly until after Burres’ start on Wednesday. Just thinking outloud here…
  • Delwyn Young is back in the leadoff spot on Tuesday for the second straight night. And why not? He had as much success last night as anyone. And again, the Pirates really don’t have a prototypical leadoff-type hitter with Aki Iwamura out.
  • Take away his absence with a bruised wrist, and Ryan Church has now started 10 straight games. I asked Russell if Church is going to be a regular in the lineup moving forward. Russell said it won’t necessarily be every day, but he does like having Church flexible to play in left and right so Russell can play the best matchups with everyone else.
  • Third baseman Andy LaRoche has just three hits in his last 34 at-bats. This comes after a 20-for-53 stretch he had right before.
  • The Pirates announced the signings of six Latin American players on Tuesday. Those players include LHP Angel Sanchez, OF Willy Garcia, RHP Oderman Rocha, RHP Brayan Almonte, RHP Jose Luis Acosta and 1B Jose Roman.
  • The Pirates announced that OF Starling Marte had successful surgery on Tuesday to remove the hamate bone in his left hand. No tendon damage was found, so Marte should be ready to return in 8-10 weeks.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Delwyn Young (2B)
  2. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (1B)
  5. Ryan Church (RF)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C)
  7. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Zach Duke (LHP)

Phillies lineup:

  1. Shane Victorino (CF)
  2. Placido Polanco (3B)
  3. Jimmy Rollins (SS)
  4. Ryan Howard (1B)
  5. Jayson Werth (RF)
  6. Ben Francisco (LF)
  7. Carlos Ruiz (C)
  8. Juan Castro (2B)
  9. Roy Halladay (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 17: Pirates (16-21) @ Phillies (23-13)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates have arrived in Philadelphia just in time for Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins to be activated off the disabled list. That’s not exactly going to make things easier for Charlie Morton tonight or Zach Duke on Tuesday.

Well, it’s not like anything has come easy to the Pirates here at Citizens Bank Park in recent years. Pittsburgh has lost it’s last five games at CBP and 10 of the last 11. Overall, the Pirates a 4-14 here, dating back to the ballpark’s 2004 opening.

Oh, and the Phillies have Roy Halladay — who has already thrown three complete games this season – going on Tuesday.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Aki Iwamura (tight right hamstring) is improving, but he still feels some pull walking and doing side-to-side movement. Iwamura did participate in some extra hitting on Monday and could be used to pinch hit, if necessary. Given that he can’t run and that he has struggled offensively for a while now, I can’t imagine Iwamura making a pinch-hit appearance unless it’s one of those extra-inning, no-one-left-on-the-bench situations.
  • Right-hander Brendan Donnelly will throw a simulated game on Tuesday, assuming the rain holds off. If all goes well there, Donnelly (left oblique strain) will be reevaluated on Wednesday and is likely to come off the DL during the next homestand. He is not going to be sent down to make a Minor League rehab start.
  • With Iwamura out, the Pirates are using Delwyn Young at the leadoff spot on Monday. It is his second time hitting leadoff this year. The Pirates have used five different leadoff hitters this season.
  • This will be the Pirates’ first game against a team from the NL East in 2010. On the other side, the Phillies are 9-1 against the NL Central (3-0 vs. Houston, 3-1 vs. St. Louis, 3-0 vs. Milwaukee).
  • Right-hander Daniel McCutchen has been placed on the Triple-A disabled list due to arm fatigue. He is expected to miss just one or two starts. McCutchen went 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in four starts (three appearances) with Pittsburgh before being demoted.
  • As noted yesterday, the Pirates have promoted righty Bryan Morris (3-0, 0.60 ERA) from high-A to Double-A. Pittsburgh has now also promoted starter Hunter Strickland (acquired in Adam LaRoche trade) from low-A to high-A, presumably to take Morris’ rotation spot.
  • In other Minor League news, Altoona starter Jared Hughes was named the Eastern League’s Pitcher of the Week. He leads all Minor League pitchers with seven wins this season.
  • I realized the Pirates’ road record these last few years has been pretty forgettable… But can you believe that the club has not had a winning road trip since 2007? Yes, in manager John Russell’s tenure as manager, the Pirates have never finished above .500 on a road trip. They can do so with a win either on Monday or Tuesday.
  • Charlie Morton enters this start having worked at least six innings in each of last two. After allowing 27 earned runs in his first 19 1/3 innings this year, Morton has given up just five in his last 12 frames (two starts).
  • The Pirates have expanded their “You score as the Bucs score” promotion due to high demand. The limited number of $7 tickets for the May 21-23 series against the Braves sold out so quickly that the Pirates have made additional tickets available for the $7 promotional price. Until they sell out, those tickets can be purchased here.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Delwyn Young (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Church (LF)
  6. Ryan Doumit (C)
  7. Jeff Clement (1B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Charlie Morton (RHP)

Phillies lineup:

  1. Shane Victorino (CF)
  2. Placido Polanco (2B)
  3. Jimmy Rollins (SS)
  4. Ryan Howard (1B)
  5. Jayson Werth (RF)
  6. Raul Ibanez (LF)
  7. Greg Dobbs (3B)
  8. Carlos Ruiz (C)
  9. Kyle Kendrick (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 16: Pirates (16-20) @ Cubs (15-22)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates own the Cubs. Say that again, all at once please.

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I’d come to Wrigley Field expecting to hear that “Go Cubs Go” chant at the conclusion of every game. There was that stretch where it seemed like the Pirates just could not beat Chicago’s north side team. Now, they can’t lose.

As manager John Russell cautioned… “We can’t take the Cubs lightly… you don’t want to wake a sleeping giant.” In other words, the Pirates aren’t going to continue having their way with the Cubs forever. But so you can get some pleasure out of this current stretch, here are some notes of interest that you might enjoy.

  • The Pirates have won seven straight against the Cubs. A win on Sunday would give the Pirates eight wins in a row against Chicago for the first time since 1990.
  • For a team that is collectively hitting .237 this season, the Pirates have batted .293 with 32 runs scored in five games against Chicago this year.
  • Pittsburgh has scored in the first inning in all five games against Chicago, hitting .481 in that opening frame.

So what does this say about two teams that have such a disparity in payroll and expectations. Cubs third baseman (and former Bucs infielder) Aramis Ramirez chimed in:

“I don’t know. You never know what’s going to happen, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 All Stars on your team or if you have a $150 million payroll. You’ve still got to get it done between the lines. I guarantee [the Pirates'] payroll isn’t even close to us, so that doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to get up here and get it done.”

For those counting at home, the Pirates opened the season with a $39 million payroll. The Cubs? $144.4 million.

TODAY’S NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Second baseman Aki Iwamura is out with tightness in his right hamstring and is likely to miss a few games as a result. He felt the hamstring tighten up when running to first as he hit into a seventh-inning double play. Iwamura was pulled out of the game immediately afterward.  Manager John Russell said Iwamura could probably pinch hit. A DL stint is not expected to be needed.
  • Garrett Jones is out of Sunday’s lineup, too, though for no other reason than to give him some rest. “At some point you have to give a guy a blow,” Russell said.
  • First baseman Steve Pearce, who was pulled after feeling tightness behind his right knee on Friday, is running just fine and therefore back in the lineup.
  • A win on Sunday would give the Pirates their third sweep of the season. In 2009, the club had a total of three at the end of the year. Too, Pittsburgh has already secured their second winning series on the road this season. They had three last year.
  • Sunday’s game ends the “You score as the Bucs score” promotion. The promotional tickets have already been reduced to $10 with the 14 runs scored this series. For more details, go here.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Ryan Church (RF)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Steve Pearce (1B)
  7. Bobby Crosby (2B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Kosuke Fukudome (RF)
  2. Starlin Castro (SS)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  5. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Mike Fontenot (2B)
  8. Geovany Soto (C)
  9. Ted Lilly (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 14: Pirates (14-20) @ Cubs (15-20)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

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.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  7. Steve Pearce (1B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Brian Burres (LHP)

Cubs lineup:

  1. Ryan Theriot (2B)
  2. Marlon Byrd (CF)
  3. Derrek Lee (1B)
  4. Xavier Nady (RF)
  5. Aramis Ramirez (3B)
  6. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
  7. Geovany Soto (C)
  8. Starlin Castro (SS)
  9. Tom Gorzelanny (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

May 8: Cardinals (19-11) @ Pirates (13-16)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Today may be cold, but last night was ugly. And no one in the Pirates’ clubhouse will dispute that. It had nothing to do with weather, either, but everything to do with a lack of executing the fundamentals.

As I tried to lay out in last night’s game story, four errors/mistakes/foibles led to all four of St. Louis’ runs and subtracted likely at least two from the Pirates’ end. So instead of having the Pirates take a game from Chris Carpenter and extend a winning streak to four games, you have… well… you saw what happened.

Manager John Russell addressed some of this earlier this afternoon in his daily meeting with the media:

“You try to realize and learn from what happened, but also there were a lot of very good things that happened,” he said. “We came up with some very big hits late. We stayed with the game even though we made mistakes. The mistakes that have been made have already been addressed.

“I think the guys are anxious to get back on the field. We need to get back on the field after last night because it was kind of frustrating. You can’t make those mistakes.”

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES:

  • As the lineup shows, the Pirates are going right-handed heavy today against the left-handed Jaime Garcia. For those of you who aren’t that familiar with Garcia, you should be. He has been one of the NL’s best this season. Garcia comes into Saturday’s game 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his five starts and has allowed a grand total of four earned runs. Right-handed hitters have batted .186 against him. Left-handed batters have hit .136 against Garcia.
  • Second baseman Aki Iwamura is among the left-handed hitters sitting on Saturday. Russell was asked if that was partly to send a messgae to Iwamura for the mistake he made on Friday (missing the critical tag), and Russell said it was more of a pitcher-hitter matchup thing (see above). Still, Russell added: “We’ve talked.”
  • The Pirates don’t have to worry about Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday on Saturday. Holliday is sitting as a precautionary measure (groin) because of cold, slick conditions. I’d imagine he’d be available to pinch hit if necessary.
  • Anyone wishing to make a comparison, the Pirates were 12-17 after 29 games last year. Not sure if that is at all important, but I thought I’d throw it out there.
  • Andrew McCutchen ranks first in the Majors with a .462 batting average in the first inning this season. He’s a .325 first-inning hitter in his career.
  • The Pirates’ 5.98 ERA still ranks last in the National League, but the discrepancy is quickly closing. Just two weeks ago, that ERA was over eight and two runs higher than the next worst. The turnaround has started with much better starting pitching as of late. In these last four homes games, the starters have a 1.42 ERA and not a single loss.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Bobby Crosby (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Steve Pearce (1B)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Jeff Karstens (RHP)

Cardinals lineup:

  1. Skip Schumaker (2B)
  2. Ryan Ludwick (RF)
  3. Albert Pujols (1B)
  4. Colby Rasmus (CF)
  5. David Freese (3B)
  6. Yadier Molina (C)
  7. Jon Jay (LF)
  8. Jaime Garcia (LHP)
  9. Brendan Ryan (SS)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

April 28: Pirates (8-12) @ Brewers (9-11)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

So glad not to have to write about that certain streak anymore. Twenty-two games — which spanned my 3+ years as the Pirates’ beat writer — was certainly enough losses to endure.

And all of a sudden, the Pirates are one good Paul Maholm performance away from winning a series here.

Other news items…

  • The Pirates have named Brian Burres the starter for Thursday. This will be Burres’ second start for Pittsburgh this season.
  • Ryan Doumit, who has hit .435 since April 21, gets the day off on Wednesday. He’s hit safely in seven straight games, though that can’t trump the fact that the catcher can not handle the wear and tear of playing behind the plate every day. Even when he’s hot.
  • Speaking of hitters on a roll, Andy LaRoche is 12-for-18 since missing a week with back spasms. He continues to hit near the top of the lineup, a spot in the batting order that is allowing LaRoche to get more hittable pitches.
  • Aki Iwamura has returned to his leadoff spot after hitting seventh for the last two games.
  • Four remains the magic number. When the team scores at least that many runs, it is 8-1 this season.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  6. Jeff Clement (1B)
  7. Jason Jaramillo (C)
  8. Paul Maholm (LHP)
  9. Ronny Cedeno (SS)

Brewers lineup:

  1. Rickie Weeks (2B)
  2. Carlos Gomez (CF)
  3. Ryan Braun (LF)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (3B)
  6. Gregg Zaun (C)
  7. Corey Hart (RF)
  8. Alcides Escobar (SS)
  9. Chris Narveson (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

April 26: Pirates (7-11) @ Brewers (8-10)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

What a weird game this can be sometimes.

The Pirates go from a thrilling three-game sweep of the Reds to dropping six straight and possibly counting…

The Brewers outscored the Pirates, 36-1, in a three-game series last week, only to then be outscored 25-4 by the Cubs over the next three days…

The Astros have won eight of their last 10 after losing eight straight to open the season. The Cubs have moved up to second place after starting 6-10…

Amazing what can happen in one week. And this is just in the NL Central.

Here’s what’s happening in the clubhouse…

  • Not in Pittsburgh anymore“: That’s the headline on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s sports page today. And it found its way onto the bulletin board in the visiting clubhouse. The headline, obviously, was in reference to the Brewers getting outscored 25-4 by the Cubs after they took it to the Pirates last week. And the Pirates were not amused.
  • I’m sure no one needs a reminder, but the Pirates have lost their last 21 games here. That’s the longest home winning streak by one team over another since the Indians beat the Browns/Orioles 27 straight times from 1952-54.
  • The Pirates will name a starter for Tuesday’s game after tonight’s affair. Likely candidate is Jeff Karstens, who has been stretched out in Triple-A for this purpose.
  • Thursday’s starting slot is still TBD and likely will be through Wednesday. Much will depend on whether Brian Burres and Brian Bass will be fresh and able to make the spot start. If the Pirates have no choice but to use both in relief in the next few days, it’s back to Triple-A to find a spot starter — possibly Kevin Hart? Hart is scheduled to pitch next in Indy on Wednesday.
  • Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to throw one more side session on Tuesday and then will make his first rehab start on Friday in extended Spring Training. He’ll go there so the Pirates have more control over his pitch/innings count. After that, Ohlendorf will be in line for one more rehab start (either with Double-A Altoona or Single-A Bradenton) before he’ll be ready to return.
  • Spent some time talking with Chris Jakubauskas, who is in exceptional spirits considering what happened to him 48 hours ago. Jaku said he had no issues on the plane ride up from Houston, though he is still groggy and dealing with headaches periodically. He was scheduled to have some memory tests done today. The hardest thing right now? He’s not able to get a good night’s sleep. Jaku has to be woken up every few hours to answer questions (it’s a consequence of having a concussion) and so sleep has come only in small chunks. He said he’s watched the replay of the incident a few times but that he thinks he’s now done viewing it for good.
  • Manager John Russell had a little lineup shuffle in store for the club today. For the first time this season, Andrew McCutchen is hitting leadoff. Obviously, he is no stranger to that spot in the order, having hit there last season.
  • McCutchen moving up was the result of Russell wanting Aki Iwamura to move down. Iwamura has just two hits in his last 27 at-bats and has not been working the count as well as he was earlier in the season. He’ll hit seventh on Monday.
  • Just another day off for Lastings Milledge, as Russell opted to go with the left-handed hitting Ryan Church against right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  3. Ryan Church (LF)
  4. Garrett Jones (RF)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Jeff Clement (1B)
  7. Aki Iwamura (2B)
  8. Zach Duke (LHP)
  9. Ronny Cedeno (SS)

Brewers lineup:

  1. Rickie Weeks (2B)
  2. Carlos Gomez (CF)
  3. Ryan Braun (LF)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (3B)
  6. Corey Hart (RF)
  7. Gregg Zaun (C)
  8. Alcides Escobar (SS)
  9. Yovani Gallardo (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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