Pirates Vs. Orioles: Bucs' Interleague Schedule A Blessing

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 26: Brad Lincoln #32 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the game on May 26, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 3-2. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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I did a segment on Trib Live Radio yesterday, and Daniel Dudley asked me about the Pirates' upcoming schedule. The question caught me off-guard a little, and I can't remember what I said, but it's probably pretty different from what I'm going to say now.

The Bucs' interleague matchups are a gift from the scheduling gods. The Pirates get three games against the Orioles, and then the rest of their interleague games are against the AL Central, which might be the worst division in baseball. Even given all that, the Pirates don't have to play the one AL Central team that's played well this year, the Chicago White Sox. So they have/had six games against the Tigers (-16 run differential), three against the Indians (-16), three against the Royals (-30), three against the Orioles (-4) and three against the Twins (-67).

A glance at third-order wins and losses, which reflect run components and strength of schedule, a few of those teams look slightly better. But this is still a cakewalk of an interleague schedule. The Royals (who the Pirates have already taken advantage of) and Twins are awful, and none of the other teams stand out as being particularly strong. If I'm going to constantly point out that the Pirates aren't as good as their record so far indicates, it's also fair to point out that those same indicators show that a lot of their upcoming opponents aren't very good either. Here's hoping they can take advantage over the next couple weeks against the Orioles, Indians, Twins and Tigers -- roughly speaking, that's probably three average teams and a terrible one.

Tonight, it's Brad Lincoln against Wei-Yin Chen, who was brilliant in his last start against the Red Sox and has had a fairly strong Major League debut season so far.

The Pirates' lineup:

Alex Presley LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Casey McGehee 1B
Matt Hague DH
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Jose Tabata RF
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS

No Jeff Clement today, but given the possibility that the Pirates will face three straight lefties this series, maybe that makes sense.

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