Mets Vs. Pirates, 22 May 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 12: R.A. Dickey #43 of the New York Mets pitches during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 12, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
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Contrasting pitching styles at PNC Park tonight at 7:05 as knuckleballer R.A. Dickey takes on the Pirates, while budding star James McDonald faces the Metropolitans.

I think Charlie recapped yesterday's game perfectly. There were so many "are you kidding me?" moments I lost count. And for both teams, most of those moments were of the negative variety. For me the hightlight occurred in Ronny Cedeno's third at bat when, after getting hits his first two times up including an RBI double to the right center field wall, he a) couldn't get a sacrifice bunt down and never squared properly to do it b) hit an absolute rocket down the third base line which required a great reaction play and strong throw from Pedro Alvarez c) slid headfirst into first base. Ahhhhh, Ronny. You never fail to deliver. That one at bat encapsulates his whole career. Tormenting and tantalizing.

I'm not going to get into Clint Hurdle essentially condoning Neil Walker's bunt or any of the rest of it. The Pirates won a game in a fashion they hadn't in almost three years, so let's just dwell on that. According to Elias, the Bucs were working on a streak of 160 straight games in which they had failed to come back and win when down by four or more runs, which was the second longest streak of all-time. The record is 178 games set by the Washington Senators from 1906-10. The last time the Pirates did it was June 1, 2009 also against the Mets. A bunch of doubles, a Barmes bloop and McKenry blast and a little-league variety outfield gaff is all it took. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Johann. Let's just say it was as unexpected as it was welcome.

Tonight the Bucs face Dickey, who throws three different types of knuckleballs, as Eno Sarris told Charlie and me on the latest episode of the BucsDugout Podcast. Josh Harrison gets another shot in right field after getting another hit last night. Maybe Gorkys Hernandez get his first major league start in tomorrow afternoon's game, but who knows. Again, a record of 20-22 seems almost magical with this offense. This is the lineup that will try to keep the magic going tonight:

Jose Tabata 7
Josh Harrison 9
Andrew McCutchen 8
Pedro Alvarez 5
Neil Walker 4
Garrett Jones 3
Rod Barajas 2
Clint Barmes 6
James McDonald 1

McDonald has been fantastic this season. He's recorded at least seven strikeouts in each of his last five starts, including 11 the last time out, when he took a no-hitter into the sixth before the wheels fell off. He has also thrown at least 99 pitches in each of the four starts prior to that one, so extending him further into games no longer seems to be an issue. Efficiency will always be important. Here is the lineup he will face:

Mike Baxter 7
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 8
David Wright 5
Lucas Duda 9
Daniel Murphy 4
Ike Davis 3
Ronny Cedeno 6
Mike Nickeas 2
R.A. Dickey 1

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