Game 70: Pirates open crucial series in Cincinnati

Lineups:

Pirates (41-28)
1. Starling Marte – LF
2. Alex Presley – RF
3. Andrew McCutchen – CF
4. Garrett Jones – 1B
5. Russell Martin – C
6. Pedro Alvarez – 3B
7. Neil Walker – 2B
8. Jordy Mercer – SS
9. Francisco Liriano – P

Reds (42-28)
1. Shin-Soo Choo – CF
2. Derrick Robinson – LF
3. Joey Votto – 1B
4. Brandon Phillips – 2B
5. Jay Bruce – RF
6. Todd Frazier – 3B
7. Zack Cozart – SS
8. Devin Mesoraco – C
9. Mike Leake – P

Notes:

  • It’s June 17, and the Pirates are just now making their first trip to Great American Ballpark for the season. That’s pretty notable, considering the Bucs own a 4-2 record against their division opponents — all six games being played in Pittsburgh.
  • It’s June 17, and the Pirates are half-way to that infamous 82-win mark. Trivial, but cool and indicative of how well they’ve started. The Reds are one-half game above the Pirates for second in the Central.
  • This is a start where the Pirates really need Francisco Liriano to continue his success. The team, facing injury issues, will throw out Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton in the rest of the four-game set. Morton and Cumpton can’t be relied on too heavily, especially against the Reds in Cincy, so if the Bucs want to feel confident in at least splitting the series and keeping pace in the standings, they should win this one tonight.

    Liriano pitched against the Reds on June 1, and was brilliant. In six innings, he allowed one measly run on five base runners while punching out 11.

  • Clint Hurdle has stated that Jordy Mercer will receive the majority of playing time at short, according to Travis Sawchik.

    Fine by me. Mercer is obviously the superior hitter, but right now the offense is clicking. Sure, Jordy has been a key to that success, but with this less-than-stellar rotation, I’d also be fine with Barmes helping out in the field.

    This is a great “problem” to have and it again speaks to the depth with which GM Neal Huntington has padded the team in the upper minors. While neither Mercer nor Barmes is really an above-average option at shortstop, it’s still encouraging that one (Mercer) was a 2008 draft pick and the other was a free agent acquisition. It gives me just a bit more faith that Huntington has at least a decent idea of how to stockpile some talent.

  • Speaking of talent, Starling Marte — who was actually signed during Dave Littlefield’s tenure — is back in the lineup after playing almost four innings in yesterday’s game. He had missed the two contests prior to Sunday with sore ribs, so it’s nice to have him on the field (hopefully) consistently again.
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    By tyle23r

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