Last night’s game was a downer as the Pirates came up one run short in a 3-2 loss to the Reds in the series opener. They certainly had their chances, but just could not come up with that big hit to chase Dan Straily or the Reds bullpen from the game. Jon Niese allowed three solo home runs, but still pitched into the 7th inning and gave the team a chance to win. I tweeted it last night, but you’re going to give up home runs at the Great American Ballpark…you just hope they are solo shots when you do it.
Moving onward to tonight’s game, most of the attention will be on the Pens/Crapitals playoff game back in Pittsburgh (I may be in attendance there), but the Pirates need to take care of business against RHP Alfredo Simon. Simon has been awful this season, pitching to an ERA well above 9 with an almost 7 FIP. He’s given up a ridiculous 35 hits in just 21 innings, a putrid 15 hits per nine inning rate. Now obviously Simon is going to lower these numbers, it’s almost impossible not to, but the Bucs offense need to take advantage of this matchup tonight.
Juan Nicasio takes the mound for his 7th start this season. Due to a scoring change on McCutchen’s error against the Cubs last week, MLB changed that play to a hit now instead of an error. Nicasio now gets charged for three more earned runs in that game. That one change sees his ERA go from 3.16 to 4.05. That’s a bad afternoon for not even pitching. Nicasio has been up and down, so I couldn’t tell you which one will show up tonight. Hopefully it’s the good Juan and will give the team a good chance for a victory. I know what we will see from Nicasio—a slow, take his time worker.
A small, interesting note to the lineup that Hurdle put out tonight. John Jaso sits and David Freese is leading off and playing first base. Leading off? It’s just the second time Freese will bat lead off in his career. It isn’t a completely crazy move considering Freese’s OBP is .363, but I honestly don’t know why it’s so a foreign thought to bat Cervelli lead off with his team-leading .408 OBP. Like why not? Also, Sean Rodriguez is in the lineup, putting his 1.125 OPS on the line tonight! Here’s the North Shore Nine for tonight: