The Pirates are coming off the highest of highs –four-game wining streak, sweep of the Royals and a season-high five over .500, to seeing their pitching struggle for three straight starts for the first time all season and losing three straight in Baltimore. But after the game, like how Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle puts it, they showered it off. They’ve moved on and are ready to go today in Cleveland.
“This is what we do,” Hurdle said. “We probably aren’t as reactive to some of the things that go on that maybe people outside of what we do. You’ve got to play good baseball to win games. As we left last night, we realized we did not play better than the Baltimore Orioles better than any of the three nights we played…It’s really an easy transition. I know there’s nobody out there caring any baggage from Baltimore here today. That’s not how we do things. That’s not the way that I’ve tried to present the game to them. We live for today. We take care of today. Yesterday is done. Tomorrow we don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re ready.”
– James McDonald will take the bump tonight for the Bucs. He’s coming off the lone rough outing of his season where he allowed three runs over 4.0 innings. McDonald struggled with his fastball command and wasn’t sharp from the get-go. The right-hander will look to pitch deep into the ballgame tonight.
“I’d love to see it. I would. We all would. I know J-Mac would,” Hurdle said. “This is why we play the game though. Where in Cleveland. It’s a new day, new series. This club got our attention last year. We came in here and went home without a win. They’ve been fighting and scratching and clawing just like us. We’re looking forward to getting back out on the field, and getting this thing back in the right direction.”
McDonald will look to be the stopper and put the end of the three-game skid. He’s ranked eighth among NL pitchers in ERA (2.39) and fourth in batting average against (.200). His May ERA of 1.54 was ranked second in the Majors.
“I think there’s a lot to be said for the mental toughness side of it,” Hurdle said. “If you look at the record this year after following games we’ve lost, its already taken a pretty good step forward…This club can be a very offensive club. They can be stacked with left-handed hitters. He’s got to execute his pitches. He’s got to command the fastball to both sides of the plate, especially glove side. It’s going to be a nice challenge for him tonight.”
– The Pirates enter tonight tied with Cleveland for the second-best save percentage (84.6) in the Majors. Both teams have converted 22 of 26 save opps.
– Pirates lineup: Alex Presley 7, Neil Walker 4, Andrew McCutchen 8, Garrett Jones 0, Casey McGehee 3, Pedro Alvarez 5, Jose Tabata 9, Rod Barajas 2, Josh Harrison 6 (James McDonald 1)
– The Indians are throwing out an all left-handed (or switch hitting) lineup: Shin-Soo Choo 9, Asdrubal Cabrera 6, Jason Kipnis 4, Carlos Santana 2, Michael Brantley 8, Johnny Damon 7, Casey Kotchman 3, Lonnie Chisenhall 0, Jack Hannahan 5