Eventually, Mark Melancon was going to have to do something that resulted in some runs and maybe a loss. Eventually, the Astros were going to have to win a game against a team better than them (this happens whenever the Astros win, of course). The important thing is that even with yesterday's loss, a win today puts the Pirates at 5-2 this week with three games against the Cubs looming after an off-day. That's a good week.
Jeff Locke gets the start today. Last time out he struck out a season high six and only walked one hitter, so hopefully he can build on that today. Lucas Harrell goes for the Astros. You don't need me to tell you this since he pitches for the Astros, but Lucas Harrell has not been very good this year. He has as many walks as strikeouts and he's given up seven homers in just under 50 innings. The Pirates' offense hasn't done a ton in this series against the Astros. Maybe today's the day to change that. First pitch is at 1:35.
The homestand didn’t get off to a great start last night, but they get to send James McDonald out to the mound tonight and hopefully that will help them coax things back in the right direction. After getting off to a slow start this year in the strikeout department, McDonald has whiffed 18 in his last two starts, both of which went at least seven innings.
He’s the big question tonight; is he turning a corner? It’d be a huge thing for the Pirates if he is. The Reds are sending Mike Leake to the mound. First pitch is at 7:05.
The best way to erase the memory of an ugly game is to turn around and play well the next time on the field. Paul Maholm is pitching much better than his 1-4 record thus far in 2011 and it’d be nice to see him get a win under his belt. Hiroki Kuroda goes for the Dodgers, with the first pitch tonight at 7:05.
In roster moves, Jose Ascanio is coming off of the DL today and Mike Crotta is going on in his place. Ascanio wasn’t great on his rehab stints, but supposedly his velocity is back in the mid/upper 90s, which is where it was before his shoulder problems, and that’s a good sign. In any case, he probably can’t be worse than Crotta’s been recently. Crotta apparently has had some elbow trouble recently and had an MRI this morning. Hopefully it’s not a big deal. As for Ascanio, he’s probably got a couple of weeks to prove he deserves a roster spot before Evan Meek and Ross Ohlendorf are ready to pitch again. He won’t get many high leverage situations, but I’d guess the Pirates will find him some work in the near future to get an idea of what they have.