Following a split of the day/night doubleheader, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs will face off once again, this time in the third game of a four-game series.
The Pirates have the unenviable task of facing Jake Arrieta tonight on Roberto Clemente Day.
Arrieta is looking to be the first Cubs starting pitcher with 20 wins since Jon Lieber accomplished the feat in 2001.
“When you’re connected to the game to win 20 games is still impressive,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s just so hard to do now. You used to be able to get a handful a year, and I was still growing up in the days where someone would shoot for 30 wins every once in a while. It still has meaning to me personally and it still has meaning not to let it happen here tonight in Jake’s case.”
Arrieta continued his recent dominance allowing one run in eight innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. Arrieta has thrown 16 consecutive quality starts and during this streak is 13-1 with a 1.00 ERA. Arrieta is 8-0 with a 0.46 ERA in his last eight starts. In seven career starts against the Pirates, Arrieta is 5-1 with a 2.05 ERA.
Burnett is making his second start since coming off the disabled list [right elbow inflammation]. This will be Burnett’s 23rd start of the season. Burnett has won eight of his last 12 decisions and has a record of 2-3 with a 2.33 ERA in 11 starts at PNC Park this year. He received a no-decision in his last start which was against the Milwaukee Brewers. Burnett allowed three earned runs in the first inning, however he put up four zeroes after that. He is 8-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 15 career starts against the Cubs. Additionally, Burnett is 13 strikeouts away from being the 32nd pitcher in major league history to record 2,500 strikeouts.
Seventh-inning stretch: The Pirates have stood by their Golden State Warriors philosophy in order to protect against players getting impacted by injuries.
Fans expressed disappointment last night in the second game upon seeing the lineup questioning why Sean Rodriguez, Michael Morse and Pedro Florimon were all in it. These disruptions did not affect the clubhouse after the game who stated that staying fresh is extremely important.
“The lineup saw regular starters in the lineup for both games,” Hurdle said. “It’s not like it was two different lineups, the lineup for last night was what we’ve done a lot against left-handed pitchers with the exception of Florimon. That was because we didn’t want Mercer to play in back-to-back games. To flip it like that I don’t get it. I think it’s a little bit absurd.”
Hurdle then followed with his belief in the system and that it is working.
“We believe in what we’re doing, that’s why we’re continuing to get results from it,” said Hurdle. “We’re very happy with the results. This has been a lot more information shared and a lot more studying going on than anybody knows about.”
It took a while for Hurdle to get the concepts but it is clear that he has bought into the philosophy.
“I want to learn,” Hurdle said. “We have a lot of smart people in this organization that want to sharpen things and make things better and have the ability to better serve our players. It’s a learning process for me as well but I have an understanding comprehension of it. Sometimes as good as tradition can be, it’s a vision killer. A lot of things are being done differently.”
Bottom of the ninth: As part of the festivities surrounding Roberto Clemente Day, his number “21” was cut in the right field grass. Andrew McCutchen will also receive his Roberto Clemente Award for being the Pirates representative. Vera Clemente will throw out the first pitch and other family members in attendance will be Roberto Jr., Ricky and Luis Clemente.
“It’s a day of heartfelt appreciation and gratefulness for the man on and off the field and for his family,” said Hurdle. “When you perform the way he did professionally and live as he did personally, the legacy continues.”
Today starts a stretch where the Pirates will see the top three National League starting pitchers based upon their ERA in four games. Arrieta owns a 1.99 ERA [second], Zack Greinke leads all pitchers at 1.61 and Clayton Kershaw is at 2.12. Gerrit Cole’s mark is at 2.60 which places his fourth… Tony Watson has made a Major League-leading 281 appearances among left-handers since the beginning of the 2012 season… According to ESPN the Pirates have had 2,242,765 fans enter PNC Park through 73 home games, an average of 30,722 which ranks 15th in baseball… Andrew McCutchen is batting .365 with six doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI in his last 15 home games against the Cubs… Starling Marte leads the National League with 16 game-winning RBI… The Pirates Sept. 26 game against the Cubs will start at 1:05 p.m. ET on Fox.
Photo credit: Biography.com