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Series Preview: Pirates and Padres

Pittsburgh Pirates (61-53) vs. San Diego Padres (52-61)

@PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA

Coming off a series win against the Marlins the Pirates enter this three-game set with the Padres in third place in the NL Central, a game and half back of the first place Brewers. The Bucs are currently a half game out of an NL Wild Card spot. The Padres sit in third place in the NL West, 12.5 games out of first place, posing no threat to the first place Dodgers or in the NL Wild Card race. 

This is the second time this season Padres and Pirates have met. The Pirates are 2-1 on the year against the Pads, taking the series from them in San Diego at the beginning of June. 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Vance Worley (4-1, 2.43) vs. Ian Kennedy (8-9, 3.59)

Game 2: Francisco Liriano (3-7, 3.91) vs. Eric Stults (4-13, 4.94)

Game 3: Charlie Morton (5-10, 3.43) vs. Tyson Ross (10-10, 2.62)

Charlie Morton beat the Padres in game one of the first series of the year between the two teams. Ian Kennedy was terrific against the Bucs the first time around, look for him to be tough again tonight. Liriano fell to Kennedy in that game of the original series. 

Season Rankings 

    PIT                             SD

R:  9th (485)                     30th (363)

BA: 8th (.258)                   30th (.225)

OBP: 1st (.333)                30th (.285)

ERA: 14th (3.69)               2nd (3.11)

QS:  17th (59)                   11th (62)

BAA: 14th (.251)               4th (.234) 

The Pirates clearly have the edge at the plate in this series. It will be key for the Bucs to continue to get runners on however they can. Still working with a depleted lineup, RBI chances will not be plentiful against a Padres team that can pitch the baseball pretty well. If the Pirates don't strand too many runners, they should have no problem against the Pads. 

Josh Harrison enters the series riding an 11-game hit streak, his average is now up to .308. Jordy Mercer is playing some great baseball once again, he was terrific in the Marlins series. He's batting .375 over his last 7 games. Gregory Polanco is heating up as of late, he is batting .348 in August and comes off a 4 RBI game last night. The "Black Hole" platoon at first was better in the Marlins series. Gaby and Ike were able to come through and drive in some runs, their at bats also looked better than they have this season. 

Vance Worley should give the Padres' bats trouble in the series opener tonight. He's won his last three starts, allowing just 5 runs in 21 innings of work. Liriano comes off a good start against Arizona, going 6 strong and allowing just 2 runs. Charlie Morton was dominant in his last start. He got an undeserved no-decision in 7 innings of one run ball. 

Prediction: This is another series the Pirates need to take advantage of against a sub-par San Diego team. Ideally the Pirates need to sweep the series and win all three games to give themselves the best shot at a playoff spot going into four tough games against the Tigers. The Pirates pitchers match up well against the Pads in this series, it should be very doable for all three to go out and get a quality start for the Bucs. The key will be if the Pirate bats can get to the San Diego pitching, the Padres rely on their arms and that's the only thing that can keep them in this series. 

The Pirates will take 2 of 3 from the Padres. I look for Worley and Morton to lead the Pirates to wins in games one and three. 

First pitch tonight at 7:05, Vanimal on the hill. 

Beat 'em Bucs