It will be difficult, if not impossible and foolish, for the Pirates to attempt to extend the 'beanball wars' with the Cincinnati Reds tonight. As angry and determined as A.J. Burnett looked last night following Andrew McCutchen being hit by a pitch for the fourth time this season by the Reds, there's little likelihood of retaliation.
Retaliation could result in ejection for Burnett, the Pirates starter tonight. That's the last thing the Pirates need. They need a strong start from Burnett. They need a pitcher, not a vigilante.
As dreary as the Pirates situation looked after blowing their second game in three days last night, that could be solved very easily with a win tonight.
With a win, the Pirates are back in sole possession of second place. If Milwaukee happens to beat St. Louis, they'd be a game out of first. The night could end well.
Of course, it could end with the Pirates in third place and three games out of first. That would not be good.
After Jordy Mercer's error cost the Pirates the game last night, Clint Barmes gets the start at shortstop against Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey. The change does not necessarily have anything to do with the error.
For his career, Mercer is 1-for-10 with five strikeouts against Bailey. Barmes is 6-for-24 with a double and three RBIs.
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Anyone suggesting Dusty Baker is some sort head-heading menace to all of MLB needs to know these statistics:
The Pirates, not the Reds, lead MLB in hit batsman. Pirates pitchers have plunked 67 batters, four more than any other team. The Reds are sixth at 59.
When it comes to hitting one particular batter, the Pirates are near the top in that category, too. They've hit the Reds Shin-Soo Choo six times this season. The Reds have hit McCutchen four times.
Jose Tabata gets the start again in left field over Starling Marte and the move is quite understandable. At the moment, Tabata is offering more offense to the team than Marte. He's batting .310 with an .844 OPS in September. He leads the team in RBIs in September with 11, three more than any teammates. Marte is 1-for-8 since coming off the disabled list.
1. Tabata, LF
2. Walker, 2B
3. McCutchen, CF
4. Morneau, 1B
5. Byrd, RF
6. Alvarez, 3B
7. Martin, C
8. Barmes, SS
9. Burnett, P