Game number 2 of the Pirates 126th season takes place tonight at PNC Park at 7:05 p.m. Jeff Karstens (9-9, 3.38 ERA in 2011) with take the hill for the PIrates and Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40 ERA in 2011) will start for the Phillies.
With a lefty on the mound Clint Hurdle has opted to go with Matt Hague and Casey McGehee at the corners. #FreeMattHague comes to life as he will be making his major league debut. McGehee will also be making his first appearance in a Pirates uniform. Tonight's lineup for the Pirates:
Jose Tabata RF
Alex Presley LF
Casey McGehee 3B
Matt Hague 1B
Neil Walker 2B
Clint Barmes SS
Jeff Karstens P
Notable obviously is that McGehee and Hague will bat in front of Neil Walker who has been dropped to the six hole. More importantly, I think, is the fact that the top two spots in the lineup have been flipped. I've always thought Tabata should bat leadoff and Presley 2nd. The logic being that if Tabata is being held on first that opens up the right side of the infield for the lefthanded hitting Presley.
A win tonight would be big as the Bucs face Vance Worley tomorrow and then embark on a nine-game west coast swing. Things don't get any easier as they open up in LA against Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (that's 3 Cy winners in the first 4 games) and then Chad Billingsley.
Notes From The Pirates:
-P- Tonight's game is expected to sellout which would give the club two straight sellouts to start the home portion of the season for the first time in team history.
-P- The Pirates were 13-11 in games started by lefties at PNC Park last season.
-P- The Pirates have gone 22-14 against the Phillies in 12 seasons of play at PNC Park.
-P- The average age of the current roster is 28.4 compared to 27.6 on Opening Day last year, 28.3 in 2010, 27.4 in 2009, 27.9 in 2008 and 27.1 in 2007. The oldest player is Rod Barajas at 36, the youngest is Jose Tabata at 23. There are only 11 players returning from last year's Opening Day roster (not including player's on the DL).