Where: PNC Park | When: 1:35 p.m.
PHI Roy Halladay vs PIT Erik Bedard
The Pittsburgh Pirates kick off the 2012 season this afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies, beginning a tough stretch in the first month of the season as the Pirates seek their first winning season since 1992.
Erik Bedard makes his Pirates debut, taking the mound against Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Bedard went 5-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 24 starts for Seattle and Boston last season.The oft-injured left hander is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts against the Phillies, but he has not faced faced the Phillies since the 2006 season.
Halladay had another cy young season in 2011, going 19-6 in 32 starts, finishing second in the majors with a 2.35 ERA. Halladay’s eight complete games led the National League and heÂ is 3-1 with a 1.18 ERA in five career starts versus Pittsburgh.
The Phillies last season set a franchise record with a major league-leading 102 wins in 2011.
Pirate management feels this is a much better team on paper as the Pirates believe they have their deepest rotation in years when healthy with the additions of Bedard and A.J. Burnett, in addition to what they feel are upgrades at the catcher and shortstop position with Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes,Â along withÂ more versatile depth on the bench with the likes of Nate McLouth and Casey McGehee who will be given opportunities to getÂ plenty of at-bats and playing time.
“We’ve improved acrossed the board, ” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve got more depth in our starting pitching. Our position player pool is definitely stronger, more versatile, more athletic. We’re just a better club, ” Hurdle said.
However, it remains to be seen if the Pirates will have much pop to their lineup. Last season they ranked 27th in the majors in both home runs (107) and runs (610) scored.
The hope had been that Pedro Alvarez would have a big turnaround, but the former first round pick comes into the season under a ton of scrutiny already after batting just .170 at the plate in spring training and looking lost.
Player to Watch: Hunter Pence – Hit .324 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 54 regular season games with the Phillies in 2011, and since 2009, is hitting .358 (59-for-165) against the Pirates with 6 home runs – 27 RBI’s, 12 doubles and 30 runs scored.
1. Alex Presley, LF – Hit .298 last season with 4Â HR – 20 RBI’s.Â DNPÂ vs PHI in 2011
2. Jose Tabata, RF – Hit .266 last season with 4 HR – 21 RBI’s.Â Batted .200Â (1-10) withÂ 2 RBI’s vs PHI in 2011
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF – Hit .259 last season with 23 HRÂ – 89 RBI’s. Batted .318 (7-22) with 3 RBI’s vs PHI in 2011. McCutchen is 1-for-8 in his career vs Hallday
4. Neil Walker, 2B – Hit .273 last season with 12 HR – 83 RBI’s. Batted .273 (6-22) with 1 HR – 3 RBI’s vs PHI in 2011
5. Garrett Jones, 1B – Hit .243 last season with 16 HR – 58 RBI’s. Batted .133 (2-15) with 1 RBI vs PHI in 2011
6. Rod Barajas, C – Hit .230 last season with 16 HR – 47 RBI’s. Batted .071Â (1-14)Â vs PHI in 2011. Barajas is 1-for-15 in his career vs Halladay.
7. Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Hit .191 last season with 4 HR – 19 RBI’s. Batted .083 (1-12) with 1 HR – 2 RBI’s vs PHI in 2011
8. Clint Barmes, SS – Hit .244 last season with 12 HR – 39 RBI’s. Batted .250 (2-8) with 1 HR – 3 RBI’s vs PHI in 2011. Barmes is 0-for-6 in career vs Halladay
9. Erik Bedard, SP – went 5-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 24 starts for Seattle and Boston last season
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