How do you keep the high after watching Taijuan Walker make his Triple-A debut just half a day ago? Why, a Felix Hernandez matinee should do the trick!
The Pirates have all of a sudden become a legit contender. If all they do is play .500 ball the rest of the way, they still have an excellent shot at making the playoffs and finishing around 90 wins. There's no reason currently to think they'll only be middle-of-the-road, though. They did take a nose dive late last season -- after a similarly promising campaign -- when it looked they might escape their long drought, but I think they're really going to finish with a winning record this time.
Back on May 8 in Pittsburgh, Felix held them to one run on six hits, walking one and striking out five. The King faced 28 batters and his contact breakdown was 12 ground balls, 10 fly balls and four line drives. So it'll be interesting to see if this lineup can fare better against a reeling ace or if the former Cy Young winner will get back on track by frustrating the Buccos again.
No Dustin Ackley in the lineup today. Larry Stone gets the quote from Eric Wedge. It's a little perplexing, given that he could have stayed in Tacoma last night. If playing in Seattle wasn't in the cards until Friday -- the club has an off-day tomorrow -- you'd figure a few more at-bats and reps in the outfield down there would have more benefit that hanging out in Seattle. So, presumably, Ackley's first game back in the big leagues will come after a three day hiatus from playing and will be against Chicago Cubs LHP Travis Wood.
1. Starling Marte (R) LF
7. Gaby Sanchez (R) 1B
RHP Jeanmar Gomez
1. Endy Chavez (L) RF
RHP Felix Hernandez