Posted June 25, 2012 on
AP on Fox
A trip to Philadelphia usually doesn't turn out well for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but this could be a different year.
This is definitely a different Phillies club in 2012.
The Pirates plan to give Jeff Karstens his first start in two months Monday night as they begin a four-game series against the last-place Phillies.
Pittsburgh (38-33) has dropped 18 of 23 at Citizens Bank Park since it opened eight years ago, and the club hasn't won a series in Philadelphia since taking two of three at Veterans Stadium from April 4-6, 2003.
However, the Pirates begin their seven-game trip with plenty of momentum after winning six of eight to move within one game of NL Central-leading Cincinnati. Pittsburgh is hitting like a first-place team, averaging 5.6 runs in those eight games.
Despite going 0 for 4 in a loss to Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Sunday, Andrew McCutchen is batting .469 (15 for 32) with two homers and eight RBIs during that stretch, while Pedro Alvarez is hitting .462 (12 for 26) with five homers and 10 RBIs.
"Different guys are coming through, getting on base and getting big hits," McCutchen told the Pirates' official website. "What we're doing now, hopefully we can continue and keep the momentum going."
The Pirates also have a 2.13 ERA in their last eight games, and Karstens (0-1, 4.50 ERA) will try to continue that run of solid pitching as he makes his first start since April 17 following shoulder and hip problems.
The right-hander was originally slated to make a Triple-A rehab start Sunday, but he will now pitch in place of Erik Bedard, who will move back a day.
"They saw what they saw (during a Thursday bullpen session), and came to the idea that I would start Monday," Karstens said. "I'm happy about it, and will try to keep this team doing what they've been doing."
Karstens will face the Phillies for the second time in 2012. In his season debut April 7, he threw six innings of one-run ball in a 2-1, 10-inning home win that ended the Pirates' five-game skid in this series.
Philadelphia (34-40) continues its 10-game homestand after losing twice to Tampa Bay on Sunday. The five-time defending NL East champs are in last place in the division, and manager Charlie Manuel is not pleased with the team's 7-15 June record - or with people questioning some of his late-game decisions.
"You guys (the media) ought to sit in the dugout with me and give me all the scenarios," Manuel said. "Like really, I think you should sit down there with us or tweet us (strategy) or something."
Monday's scheduled starter Joe Blanton (6-6, 5.04) needs to do something different after posting a 7.44 ERA in his last seven starts. He has given up at least one homer in each of his last eight outings, allowing three Wednesday during Philadelphia's 7-6 win over Colorado.
The right-hander, 1-0 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts against the Pirates, will almost certainly be pitching to Carlos Ruiz after Brian Schneider suffered an ankle sprain on a collision at the plate Sunday.
The Phillies won't have Chase Utley (knee) on Monday, but there's a chance the five-time All-Star second baseman could make his season debut as early as Wednesday.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Chase Utley could return to the Phillies' lineup by Wednesday, according to CSNPhilly.com.
The good news for the Phillies on Saturday was two-fold — they had their second walkoff win of the season on Jim Thome‘s ninth inning opposite field solo home run, and according to CSNPhilly.com, Chase Utley is headed back to the Philadelphia area and could be back in the Phillies’...
Phillies’ 2nd Baseman Chase Utley will play for the Triple A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs tonight and will likely be activated from the disabled list tomorrow.
I stand by my assessment of the Phillies. They are a mess and have too many holes to plug to really climb back into this race right now and win the NL East. With that said, the Phillies are only 8 games back. It feels like...
Remember when Cole Hamels intentionally beaned Bryce Harper last month? And how he got suspended for five games for it? And how he got mercilessly ripped by ornery old baseball types like Jim Leyland and Mike Rizzo?
Well, now, over a month-and-a-half and one clown question later, Hamels has apparently extended somewhat of an olive branch to Harper.
According to Phillies beat reporter...
Chase Utley must be activated from the disabled list by July 2nd according to MLB rules. There is some hope, however, that his return could come sooner than that.
Reports circulating for the past 24 hours have the former All Star with bad knees making his return to the Phillies on Wednesday. Chase Utley’s return this year may be more about bolstering team morale than any significant...
Jeff Karstens made his return to the Pirates tonight and was smacked around the ball park, resulting in the Pirates losing 8-3. The first inning consisted of three errors by the Pirates, all on throws. Two were made by Jose Tabata and one was made by Pedro Alvarez which resulted in the Phillies putting up four runs in the first. Doug Slaten allowed a run after walking three men and...
Pirates (38-33) at Phillies (34-40)
7:05 PM EST–Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Here is the MLB.com Gameday
TV: ROOT Sports
After a pretty successful homestand, the Bucs are on the road for a week as they look to continue their winning ways. Their first stop is a place that hasn’t been kind to them lately: Citizens Bank Park. They are just 5-18 in CBP, have been swept there...
Jonathan Papelbon came into the top of the ninth with a 6-4 lead over Tampa Rays.
The Phillies, giving up back to back singles to Jeff Keppinger and Brooks Conrad, tied the score at 6-6.
Thome, pinch hitting for Papelbon, homered to left on a full count.
The Rays took a 3-0 lead, then in the bottom of the third, Jimmy Rollins homered, to pull the Phillies to 3-2.
Congratulations to Jimmy Rollins for producing the Phillies first Howard of the season. For those of you not "in the know" (and seriously where the hell have you been), The Howard is any time a player hits a homerun, strikes out, and commits an error all in the same ball game. Last night's Phils win featured two Howards; one by Young James and the other by the enemy...
It's pretty sad that it's almost July and the Phillies are still in last place. Sitting six games under .500 (34-40) and sitting 9 games behind in the NL East, it's really tough to see this team accomplishing anything great this season. The Phillies are coming off of a 2-1 series loss against the Rays, including being swept in yesterday's day-night double header....
6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K Pitch TypeVelocH-BreakV-BreakCountStrike% 4-Seam 90.2 -2.98 8.22 22 72.73% Change 86.6 -5.895.2911 54.55% Slider 87.1 3.234.451947.37% Curve 76.77.44-5.44 20 85.00% Cutter 89.8 0.49 8.332 50.00% 2-Seam 90.02 -5.77 7.65 10 90.00% You can view all the season's pitch f/x posts by clicking here
With last night's game being postponed, the Phillies will play a day-night double header on Sunday to finish the series with the Rays. Today, which was set to be game two, will be game one and Kyle Kendrick is on the hill for the Phils. Cliff Lee will start in game two of tomorrow's double header and he'll look for his first win. It seems every time the Rays are in town...
Pittsburgh Pirates Live Game Chat
©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved..
A string of four straight interleague series victories came to a screeching halt on Saturday afternoon. The Detroit Tigers’ offense hibernated for the second straight day, producing a second straight 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Max Scherzer, fresh off … Continue reading →
There has been some speculation that Jeff Karstens would start today, but that seems to be laid to rest. Karstens will start on the road trip. What does that mean for the rotation then? Kevin Correia and Brad Lincoln have not been great options this year, but they aren’t the automatic losses they are made [...]