It was on this date a year ago that the Pirates lost their third straight game and were on their way to an historic collapse. A loss today against the Colorado Rockies would be their third straight and no doubt send a shiver through the Pirates Nation.
Jeff Locke, 9-3, 2.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, tries to do this afternoon what Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett could not -- beat the Rockies. At one time this season Locke would have been just the pitcher to step into such a sitauation. Bue he has not pitched well since the All Star break.
In the first half, 18 starts, he was 8-2 with a 2.15 ERA and a .202 BAA. In the second half, four starts, he is 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA and a .318 BAA. His walk rate has gone from 3.9 a game to 5.6. In his past three starts, 16 1/3 innings, he has allowed 27 hits and 10 walks.
The good news on Locke is this: He has a MLB-leading road ERA of 1.83. He is 5-1 in 10 starts away from PNC Park.
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Lesser lineup: Left fielder and leadoff hitter Starling Marte is out today after suffering contusions on his wrist when hit by a pitch last night. Alex Presley is in left field. In addition to Marte being out, shorstop Jordy Mercer and catcher Russell Martin are not in the starting lineup.
Drawing walks: On-base percentage is a too-much ignored statistic. It better serves to point out contributions of a player than batting average because it includes walks -- which aren’t as good as hits but almost are and which are lots better than outs -- and hit batsman. Neil Walker and Russell Martin rank 48 and 50 in hitting among players with 350 or more at bats. But in on-base percentage, Walker is 18 at .357 and Martin 19 at .356. Both have on-base percentages close to 100 points higher than their batting average.
This and that: Martin is 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs as a pinch-hitter. Two of his pinch-hits ended games . . . The Pirates have not homered in three games, their longest stretch since the first five games of the season . . . Walker is batting .317 (20-63) with seven doubles a homer and eight RBIs in 18 games since returning from the disabled list . . . In 12 games at Coors Field, Garrett Jones is batting .413 (19-for-46) with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs and 14 RBIs.
August batting, OPS: Andrew McCutchen: 12-25, .480, 1.314; Jose Tabata: 7-23, .318, .945; Walker: 12-32, .375, .932; Starling Marte: 11-32, .344, .868; Martin: 8-24, .333, .860; Jones: 4-19, .211, .674; Gaby Sanchez: 3-12, .250, .619; Josh Harrison: 3-16, .188, .610; Jordy Mercer: 6-23, .261, .569; Alex Presley: 3-13, .231. .516; Pedro Alvarez: 5-30, .167, .479; Tony Sanchez: 2-13, .154, .368; Clint Barmes: 0-8, .000, .000;
Opposing pitcher: Right-handed rookie Chad Bettis, 0-1, 6.30 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, hasn’t been quite as bad as his numbers might indicate. In his MLB debut on Aug.1, he gave up five runs and six hits to Atlanta. In his next start, against the Mets, he allowed two runs in the first but only one hit over the next four innings. He was 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 starts in the Class AA Texas League.
Pirates lineup, 4:10 p.m.:
1. Presley, LF
2. Tabata, RF
3. McCutchen, CF
4. Alvarez, 3B
5. Walker, 2B
6. Jones, 1B
7. T. Sanchez, C
8. Barmes, SS
9. Locke, P