Series Preview: Pirates at Phillies

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After losing this past weekend’s series to the visiting New York Mets, the Phillies (11-21) turn the page to a series with their Keystone State neighbors and former divisional rival Pittsburgh Pirates (15-16), who themselves just won a series against the Central Division-leading Saint Louis Cardinals.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Coming off consecutive Wildcard playoff appearances, Pittsburgh has not performed nearly as well as many had predicted coming into the 2015 season. But the Bucs have won 3 of 4 heading into this 4-game set at Citizens Bank Park.

The Pirates made news in their Saint Louis series by pulling off the first 4-5-4 triple play in MLB history to get out of a jam with runners on second and third. 2nd baseman Neil Walker snagged a liner for the first out, and fired to third when the runner their left the bag too early. Third basemen Jung-Ho Kang tug 3rd for the 2nd out, then threw back to Walker covering second to get Jason Heyward, who had also left that base too soon.

Walker commented, “Not to say [Heyward] made a terrible decision…But you do want to make sure the ball goes through. I don’t know if they saw the flight of the ball differently — but it got us out of a trouble inning, and we made a pretty special play out of it.

Walker (.287/.350/.417, 2 HR, 12 RBI), leftfielder Starling Marte (.278/.328/.500, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 5 SB), and rightfielder Gregory Polanco (.263/.309/.377, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 9 SB) lead the Pirates offense, which continues to wait for superstar centerfielder Andrew McCutchen to get untracked.

Pacing the Phils are shortstop Freddy Galvis (.340/.381/.406, 1 HR, 8 RBI), centerfielder Odubel Herrera (.268/.299/.357, 9 RBI, 5 SB), and leftfielder Ben Revere (.254/.302/.356, 9 RBI, 6 SB). Herrera may be slowing a bit after a hot start, while Revere is heating up after a cold one.

PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Jerome Williams (2-2, 5.18 ERA) v. Gerrit Cole (4-1, 2.27 ERA) – Williams seeks a major rebound today after putting up his worst start of the season last week (4.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 3 S0, 0 BB). After a very good beginning to the season, Cole had a mediocre performance against the Reds his last time out (5 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 4 SO, 2 BB). He is certainly looking to right the ship this evening.

Sean O’Sullivan (0-1, 4.91 ERA) v. AJ Burnett (1-1. 1.66 ERA) –  O’Sullivan will return from the 15-Day DL (left knee tendinitis) after 1 rehab start. O’Sullivan will face former Phillie AJ Burnett, who had a nice night last week against the Reds (7 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 4 SO, 2 BB). The now 38-year old will try to continue his series of solid outings on Tuesday night.

Cole Hamels (2-3, 3.68 ERA) v. Francisco Liriano (1-2, 2.79 ERA) – Hamels was terrific against the Mets the other night (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 8 SO, 2 BB). He’s hopeful he can maintain that level of performance on Wednesday night. Liriano was good against the Cardinals last week (6.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 10 SO, 1 BB), but made a couple of key mistakes. On his outing against the Cards’ tough offense, Liriano said, “Tough lineup… You cannot make mistakes to those guys. They’re ready to swing.” The lefty looks to get back on track against a dreadful Phillies offense on Wednesday evening.

Aaron Harang (3-3, 2.38 ERA) v. Vance Worley (2-2, 4.63 ERA) – Harang came to play once again in his most recent start (7 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 2 SO, 1 BB), and hopes to continue churning out quality starts on Thursday afternoon. His opponent, former Phillies rookie sensation Vance Worley. The ‘Vanimal’ was lackluster in his last outing (5 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 0 SO, 3 BB), and has been a bit up and down this season. He seeks some consistency in this series finale.

SERIES KEYS:

Patient Approach – The Phils are going against a very formidable set of starters in this series, and will have to wait them out to find success. Even though the Pirates bullpen is almost as good, the Phillies would be best served to chase the Pittsburgh starters early.

Watch the Double Play- Being very effective at double plays, the Pirates will try to set them up as soon as the Phillies get runners on base during this series. The Phillies must do all they can to pressure the Bucs defense, starting runners early, and maybe even stealing bases.

Broadcast Information:

Game 1: Monday, 7:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)

Game 2: Tuesday, 7:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)

Game 3: Wednesday, 7:05 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE forecast for Citizens Bank Park this week

This Afternoon

Isolated showers and thunderstorms after 3pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 85. South wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight

A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm, then a slight chance of showers after 2am. Patchy fog after 2am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 65. South wind 5 to 8 mph becoming calm after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday

Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 88. West wind 8 to 18 mph.

Tuesday Night

Mostly clear, with a low around 58. West wind around 14 mph.

Wednesday

Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. West wind 16 to 18 mph.

Wednesday Night

Mostly clear, with a low around 51.

Thursday

Sunny, with a high near 72.


INJURY SITUATION


PIRATESDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Cumpton, Brandon (P)04/22Out for Season2016Recovering from March 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery March 10.
Lambo, Andrew (LF)05/0915-day DLTBDPlantar fasciitis in left footPlaced on 15-day DL on May 6 retroactive to May 4.
Morton, Charlie (P)05/0815-day DLPossibly early MayRecovering from September 2014 right hip surgerySent on Double-A rehab assignment May 8.
Sellers, Justin (2B)05/0115-day DLPossibly early MayLeft heel painSent on Triple-A rehab assignment April 25.

PHILLIESDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
O’Sullivan, Sean (P)05/0715-day DLPossibly MayLeft knee tendinitisSent on Class A rehab assignment May 7.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)05/0960-day DLTBDRecovering from June 2014 right elbow surgeryTransferred to 60-day DL on April 28.
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