—- Derrek Lee made quite a first impression last night, hitting two home runs in his Pirates debut on Monday night, driving in all three runs for the Pirates in their 5-3 loss.
Lee’s effort though wasn’t enough for the Pirates who have now dropped four straight and 9 of 12. The Pirates trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 5.5 games in the NL Central.
The Pirates are now just one game above .500 at 54-53 and by comparison, the Brewers are twelve games above .500 at 61-49.
Moving forward, the Pirates are going to need the type of game changing performances they got from Lee last night, more often than not if they are going to make a strong push in the Central.
In his comfort zone against National League teams, Lee is hitting .328 (27-for-66) with 4 home runs and 9 RBI’s against the NL this season.
In his last 76 at-bats, Lee has 7 home runs and 22 RBI’s.
“My swing has started to feel better the last couple of weeks,” Lee said on Monday. “It’s kind of been in and out all season and I haven’t really had a prolonged hot streak. I’ve really been working on finding something consistent that I can stay with for a while.”
— This season the Pirates have always found a way to fight through a tough stretch. Is this finally the period where the team implodes or is the team just dealing with some turbulence?
“Anybody’s who’s flown a plane you’ve heard the captain say, put your seatbelts on, you’re about to experience some turbulence. That’s all we’ve got going on here, ” manager Clint Hurdle said yesterday.
— Something has to give in tonight’s pitching matchup: Kevin Correia (12-8, 4.24 ERA) is looking for a career best 13th win of the season but is just 2-6 with a 6.62 ERA. Meanwhile, Cubs starter Randy Wells (2-4, 6.16) is 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA in five starts on the road.
— Second baseman Neil Walker has his batting average up to a team leading .281. He continues to be a force against the Cubs, reaching base safely in all 19 career games vs Chicago. Walker is batting .366 against the Cubs this season.
— Remember it wasn’t too long ago that fans were pushing for the callup of Steve Pearce. He’s batting .095 (2-for-21) since being called up.
— Coming off a 2-for-4 night to open the series, Pedro Alvarez is hitting .353 against the Cubs this season.
— Andrew McCutchen is batting .188 since the All-Star break.
—- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez returns to the lineup. He is hitting .273 against the Pirates with 2 home runs and 3 RBI’s.
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Garrett Jones, RF
3. Neil Walker, 2B
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Ryan Ludwick, LF
6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
7. Ronny Cedeno, SS
8. Michael McKenry, C
9. Kevin Correia, P