There are several reasons that the Pittsburgh Pirates are in position to reach the playoffs and record their first winning season since 1992. Near the top of the list is James McDonald, who will try for his 10th victory when the Pirates visit theColorado Rockies on Wednesday in the rubber match of their three-game series. McDonald (9-3) and fellow right-hander A.J. Burnett (10-3) – along with the red-hot hitting Andrew McCutchen – will need to keep performing at a high level if Pittsburgh is to reach the postseason. The Pirates trail the Cincinnati Reds by one game in the National League Central but lead the NL wild card race.
McDonald will oppose Colorado’s Jeremy Guthrie, who is 1-5 with a 9.23 ERA at home in his first season with the Rockies. Guthrie will be charged with figuring out what many pitchers – including himself – haven’t been able to do: Get McCutchen out. Arguably the favorite to win the NL MVP, McCutchen is 11-for-20 with four homers since the All-Star break and leads the NL with a .374 batting average. He is also an astonishing 26-for-49 (.531) with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 16 runs scored in 12 July games.
Pirates Rockies Betting
When: 3:10 PM ET, Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Where: Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
TV: 3:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, Root Sports (Pittsburgh, Colorado)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH James McDonald (9-3, 2.59 ERA) vs. Rockies RH Jeremy Guthrie (3-9, 6.14)
McDonald has won four straight decisions, but came out of the All-Star break with his worst performance of the season Friday. He allowed five runs (four earned), eight hits and matched a season high with five walks, but didn’t take the loss in Pittsburgh’s 10-7 setback at Milwaukee. McDonald yielded one run, one hit and struck out eight in seven innings, but didn’t receive a decision in the Pirates’ 2-1 loss to the Rockies on April 25. Colorado’s roster is hitting .194 against him, with Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler a combined 3-for-17.
Guthrie allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings in his last outing, an 8-5 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. He has allowed 12 home runs and 61 hits in 39 innings at Coors Field. Guthrie, who was Colorado’s opening day starter, hasn’t won since May 31, when he allowed five runs and 12 hits in seven innings in an 11-5 victory over Houston. McCutchen has a single and two walks in three at-bats versus Guthrie, while Rod Barajas (5-for-24) is the only Pirate with more than four at-bats against him.
1. Rockies INF Chris Nelson was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Nelson was hospitalized Monday with an irregular heartbeat and doctors Tuesday restored his normal rhythm with a series of shocks.
2. The Rockies have lost five straight home series since they took two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 3.
3. Triple Crown watch: McCutchen shares the NL RBI lead with St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran (66) and his 22 home runs trail only the Brewers’ Ryan Braun (26).