Pirates (54-49) @ Phillies (65-39)
PIT Charlie Morton (8-5, 3.69 ERA) vs PHI Roy Halladay (12-4, 2.55 ERA)
The Pittsburgh Pirates are 5-5 through a pivotal 13 game stretch that wraps up with a three game set against the Philadelphia Phillies, which begins tonight in Philadelphia at 7:05 P.M.
It will be the second series matchup between the cross-state foes. It’s Pittsburgh who leads the season series, thus far, taking two of three games from the Phillies in Pittsburgh, during a three game home stand (June 3-5) at PNC Park.
The Pirates in fact have taken six of eight games against the Phillies but are just 2-11 at Citizens Field.
Charlie Morton takes the mound tonight against Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Halladay has been excellent at home, going 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA this season. The Phillies have won 9 straight Halladay starts at home.
Halladay is 1-0 against the Pirates this season and 2-1 with a 1.45 ERA in his career against Pittsburgh.
Morton pitched a stellar game against the Phillies on June 4th, allowing 2 runs in seven innings.
After struggling going into the All-Star break, Morton has been okay in two starts, throwing 5 shutout innings against the Reds in a strong effort and receiving a no decision against the Cardinals on July 24, allowing 3 runs, 5 walks in 5 1/3 innings.
On the road, Morton is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA, throwing 2 complete games. Morton though hasn’t pitched past the fifth inning since June 4th.
The Pirates will see Halladay and Cliff Lee in back-to-back starts.
Offensively, the Pirates struggles have been well noted but the Philadelphia Phillies are in a mini slump.
Philadelphia has scored just four runs in their last three games, dropping two of their last three at home.
The Phillies though could be getting a big boost to their lineup as early as tomorrow night’s game. The team is reportedly closing in on a trade for Astros star outfielder Hunter Pence who was a target of the Pirates but the team bailed out of the derby several days ago.
Pence is hitting .309 this season with 11 home runs and 62 RBI’s. He has dominated the Pirates over the past couple seasons, hitting .332 (73-for-220) with 8 home runs, 37 RBI’s and 14 doubles against the Pirates since 2008.
This season, Pence is batting .388 against Pittsburgh.
Philadelphia is 4-3 in the midst of a 10 game home stand.
Player Stats Watch
*Andrew McCutchen (.279 – 15 HR – 63 RBI) who broke out Thursday night with a 3 hit, 3 RBI game, is batting .500 (6-for-12) with 3 RBI’s and 2 doubles against the Phillies this season. Since the All-Star break, McCutchen is batting .200 with 1 home run and 9 RBI’s.
*Lyle Overbay has just 1 RBI in his last 63 at-bats. He’s batting .364 (4-for-11) against the Phillies with 2 RBI’s, double and yes a triple.
*Garrett Jones is 4-for-7 in his career against Roy Halladay.
*Pedro Alvarez (.204 – 2 HR – 12 RBI) is batting .176 (3-for-17) with 2 RBI’s, double and 9 strikeouts since returning from the minors.
Alvarez has batted .375 (6-for-16) with 2 home runs and 4 RBI’s in his career against Philadelphia.
*Reliever Joe Beimel has allowed 0 runs in 6 innings pitched since returning from the DL in mid-July. Beimel has struck out 5 and walked none during that span.
*Jimmy Rollins is batting .429 with a double and 2 runs scored against the Pirates this season. Rollins is 6-for-9 in his career against Charlie Morton.