Game 65: Can Pirates keep up pace against Cain?

Last night was a long, freaking time coming. For the first time since May 11 against the Mets, the Pirates posted double-digit runs in a game. That 11-2 romping in New York mirrored the box score from Pittsburgh’s 12-8 victory over San Francisco on Wednesday.

Jonathan Niese, a lefty whose average fastball velocity is under 90 mph, was the Mets’ starter in the May 11 game versus the Bucs, and he allowed eight earned runs on eight hits and three walks in just 4 2/3 innings.

Barry Zito, another soft-tossing lefty who sits at about 84 mph with his fastball, surrendered eight earned runs on 11 hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings.

Obviously Zito was knocked around a bit more, but the results (runs allowed) were the same throughout an equal sample (innings pitched).

Also of note is the comparable top-of-the-order production in the two games. Of the 16 hits the Pirates pounded out against the Mets, five (in 12 at-bats) came from the top three, who also tallied five runs — Starling Marte (2-for-5), Jordy Mercer (2-for-5) and Andrew McCutchen (1-for-2 with a walk in five innings of play). In last night’s game, that trio went 10-for-15 and scored eight runs as the top of a batting order that, in total, produced 18 hits and 12 runs.

So thing were proportionate: Neise is a bit better than Zito and the Pirates’ top three batters’ were only a hair less successful as a result.

But the great thing is that the Pirates have been scoring(?!) against the Giants so far this series and now run into a talented-but-struggling Matt Cain (5.09 ERA, 3.93 xFIP).

Charlie Morton makes the start in place of Wandy Rodriguez, who is on the 15-day disabled list. It’s Morton’s first start of the season.

    Lineups:

Giants (33-31)
1. Gregor Blanco – CF
2. Brandon Crawford – SS
3. Buster Posey – C
4. Hunter Pence – RF
5. Brandon Belt – 1B
6. Andres Torres – LF
7. Joaquin Arias – 3B
8. Nick Noonan – 2B
9. Matt Cain – P

Pirates (39-26)
1. Alex Presley – LF
2. Travis Snider – RF
3. Andrew McCutchen – CF
4. Garrett Jones – 1B
5. Neil Walker – 2B
6. Pedro Alvarez – 3B
7. Michael McKenry – C
8. Jordy Mercer – SS
9. Charlie Morton – P

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By tyle23r

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