Pittsburgh Pirates-San Francisco Giants Series Preview

Alvarez, Walker and Tabata have been miserable so far in 2012, batting (.077) (.056) and (.190).

The Pirates drew two more aces against the Dodgers in Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.  Bringing that total to four out of six games in which Pirates’ batters have faced premier talent.

The Pirates offense still could not get things going offensively and lost two more one-run games.

Thursday’s lineup seemed to be pretty indicative of a manager and team that are searching desperately for answers.

Neil Walker, who only has one hit through his first 18 at bats (.056) was benched in favor of Josh Harrison.  In an odd change in the lineup, Alex Presley who is batting .333 was benched in favor of Yamaico Navarro.  Previously, Navarro has only made three starts in the outfield in his entire career.

Clint Hurdle seemed to be very intense and focused on results the entire night and Pedro Alvarez cannot be helping Clint’s blood pressure level after last night.  Pedro added three more strike outs to his total of seven through 13 at-bats and is now batting .077.

Hurdle has been one of Alvarez’s biggest supporters over the past two seasons, but you have to wonder just how much longer Pedro can do this bad without some consequences.

Giants Report

The Pirates head to San Francisco for the second leg of their West Coast road trip for a three-game set against the Giants.  The Pirates and the Giants both come into the series with a 2-4 record, but the Giants seem to be living in the bizarro world in 2012.

Known for their pitching, the Giants are ranked dead last in the National League in team ERA at 5.58.  Tim Lincecum has struggled mightily in both of his starts in 2012, but will not get a chance to bounce back against the Pirates.

The Giants rank in the top three in runs scored, home runs and team OPS.  Known to be a weak-hitting team, the Giants do not have major threats in this lineup, but leading the charge is third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval, 25, is batting. 346 with two home runs and seven rbi through the Giants first six games.  Outfielder Melky Cabrera is also off to a strong start, hitting .385 with 7 rbi.  Superstar catcher Buster Posey is back in the lineup after dealing with a case of the shingles.

This series is a big one for both squads and just maybe the Pirates are catching the Giants at the right time.

Opposing Pitcher Report

Matt Cain

Cain is coming off a 2011 campaign in which he went 12-11 with a 2.88 ERA.  Cain teamed up with Tim Lincecum for a dominant one-two punch last season.

Cain’s 2012 season got off to a shaky start in his first start against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The 27-year-old right hander went six innings and gave up five runs.  Maybe the Pirates are catching Cain at the right time, but Cain will most likely welcome the light-hitting Pirates with open arms.

Barry Zito

Zito, 33, pitched his first shutout in nine years in his first start of the season against the Colorado Rockies.  Since signing a seven year- $126 million contract in 2007, Zito is only 44-61 overall.  Zito is hoping to keep the momentum rolling in 2012 and looking forward to his start against the Pirates.

“I think I was able to enjoy it probably a little more than I have in the past,” said Zito, who blanked the Rockies on four hits Monday and won, 7-0. “Definitely — it’s been nine years, so you got to soak it up. But it only goes as long as the next workday, which is today.”

In 2011, Zito was injured the majority of the season and only made nine starts, compiling a 5.87 ERA.  Before last season, Zito has been one of the most dependable inning-eaters in the Major Leagues, making over 30 starts in each season since 2001.

Ryan Vogelsong

Vogelsong will make his first start of the 2012 season on Sunday against the Pirates.  He has been held of the 25 man roster due to a lower back strain.  In 2011, the long-time journeyman turned himself into an All-Star.

Vogelsong had a season to remember, finishing 13-7 with a 2.71 ERA.

Pitching Matchups

Friday 4:35 pm- James McDonald (0-0) 3.00 ERA vs Matt Cain (0-0) 7.50 ERA

Saturday 9:05 pm- Charlie Morton (-) — ERA vs  Barry Zito (1-0) 0.00 ERA

Sunday 4:05 pm- Kevin Correia (0-0) 1.50 ERA vs Ryan Vogelsong (-) — ERA

By the Numbers (National League-2012) 

San Francisco Giants
29 Runs Scored (3rd)
8 Home Runs (3rd)
5.58 Team ERA (16th)
Opponent Batting Avg. .293 (15th)

Pittsburgh Pirates
11 Runs Scored (16th)
3 Home Runs (16th)
2.25 Team ERA (3rd)
Opponent Batting Avg. .239 (10th)

Bishkin Bits

-Look for Pedro to get the nod tonight against righty Matt Cain.  Maybe he can string together some quality at bats.

-Casey McGehee continues his hot start to 2012 with two more hits last night.  His average is now .385.

-Charlie Morton makes his first start of 2012 on Saturday.

Related posts:

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  2. Pittsburgh Pirates - San Diego Padres Series Preview
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates - St. Louis Cardinals Series Preview
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates-Los Angeles Dodgers Series Preview
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates - Houston Astros Series Preview

About John Friend

Dedicated and objective Pirates blogger. Follow me @Slew_John37. Thanks for reading! Find Slew Footers Sports on Facebook as well. Oh yea--Pearl Jam is really really OK.