Found May 28, 2012 on isportsweb.com:

(Opening image credit Jared Wickerham, AP)

If there’s one thing that will make a Pirate fan’s heart flutter regardless of other seasonal circumstances, it’s an absolute beatdown of the dastardly Chicago Cubs. Ever since I attended a mid-September full 3-game homestand a few years ago- only to see Cubs’ fans outnumber Pirates’ fans 2:1, besmirching beautiful PNC Park with their “Here We Go Cubbies!” chant- I have loathed this team.

1. Letting the Pirates push your losing streak from 9 games to 12? Oh yeah.

2. Currently double the amount of losses as wins? Mmmm-hmm.

3. Already 11 games back in the weak NL Central? Delicious.

4. Boasting all of the following contract albatrosses? Divine.

36-year old Alfonso Soriano: $19,000,000

35-year old Ryan Dempster: $14,000,000

5. Speaking of questionable contracts, it will be interesting to see whether the Cubs get value out of SP Matt Garza ($9,500,000) and RP Carlos Marmol ($7,700,000). Considering his ERA+ prior to this year (108 career vs. 91 in 2012), Garza is an above-average SP, who threw at least 184 IP in his 4 years in Tampa Bay. That’s worth something in today’s MLB. But at the same time, he’s never been more than a solid #3 starter. Marmol has some of the most electric stuff in the game, and has averaged nearly 12 K/9 throughout his career! But he’s also wildly erratic (especially for a closer) and actually walked more batters (16) than he had strikeouts (12), prior to being DL’d this year.

These 3 games were an utter pony-pounding, and they couldn’t have happened to a more deserving opponent.

The Pirates’ carried the momentum from their series-sweeping 10-4 victory over Chicago into a series-opening 4-0 victory over the Division-leading Cincinnati Reds on Memorial Day. My main man SP James McDonald continues to be worth the price of admission, raising his 2012 statline to 3-2, with a 2.51 ERA and 58 K in 57.1 IP. To grind for 8 straight innings on a brutally humid Monday afternoon was impressive, and the Reds never really threatened for the latter half of the game.

From watching today’s matchup, I believe 2 things are equally true:

1. The Reds really aren’t a great team, and would struggle to win a Division outside of the NL Central.

2. However, the Reds are clearly superior talent-wise to the Pirates, and should have little trouble maintaining a cushion over them as the season progresses.

Still, this is fun while it’s lasting. The Pirates are winning with some great pitching and ugly offense, but at the end of the day, they’ve climbed back up to .500, and are within 3 games of the Reds with 2 more shots to narrow that gap even further. Here’s hoping for 5 in a row on Tuesday. Thanks for reading.

Follow me on Twitter @jim_krug

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Adding slider leads to big numbers for McDonald

James McDonald, a budding National League All-Star, had been something of a frustration for the Pirates the better part of his two years in Pittsburgh. McDonald has the 95-mph heat, the 12-to-6 curve and plenty enough poise. But something was missing. One March afternoon in Clearwater, Fla., McDonald was toying with a slider in warm-ups with catcher Rod Barajas. He had thrown...

James McDonald: Pittsburgh’s New Ace

The Pittsburgh Pirates are third in the NL Central, 22nd in attendance, and their offense is about as exciting as a piñata without candy.  Despite the lack of fanfare surrounding the Pirates this season (and every season really), James McDonald has been quietly putting up some serious numbers.  The 27 year old righty from Long Beach has been mowing down opposing hitters through...

Pirates cool off red-hot Reds behind strong outing by McDonald

Cincy couldn't figure out ole' McDonald on Monday The NL Central-leading Reds (27-21) strolled into the Steel City on Monday as arguably the hottest team in all of baseball. However, you certainly wouldn't have thought that after watching the pesky Pirates (24-24) down them by a tally of 4-1 on a steamy affair at PNC Park. Pittsburgh starter James McDonald...

Pitcher Profile: James McDonald Has The Reds Scared

What better way to commemorate Memorial Day than a Communism pun?  Hey, at least McDonald didn’t pitch against Brandon McCarthy. And just like we pounded down the Berlin Wall (well no, we didn’t, but go with it), James McDonald is pounding the strike zone.  Worth bearing with me for the metaphor?  No?  It’s better than my other “pounding” joke… With a walk rate above...

Pirates 4, Reds 1

James McDonald scattered five hits over eight shutout innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 on Monday to climb back to .500. Pedro Alvarez, Rod Barajas and Neil Walker all had two hits apiece and knocked in a run for the Pirates, who have won a season-high four straight to improve to 24-24. It was more than enough for McDonald (4-2), who retired his final...

Back to .500

The Bucs kept on rolling on this hot Memorial Day afternoon, cruising to a 4-1 victory over (previously) red-hot Cincinnati for their fourth victory in a row. What else can I say about James McDonald? He was excellent yet again today and continues to solidify his spot at the top of this rotation–and if he keeps pitching like this, at the top of the league in terms of numbers....

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds – Game 49

Welllll that was fun!  James McDonald continues to be the best pitcher on the team and the bats were really quite good yesterday.  It also looks like Pedro Alvarez is heating up. If you’re in the mood for some reading, check out this article I wrote yesterday about Deven Merrero. Anyway the Pirates are .500, not [...]

MLB Insiders: Cincinnati Reds

The Pirates open a three-game series with Cincinnati on Monday afternoon. Right-hander James McDonald will pitch for the Bucs. The Reds will toss right-hander Bronson Arroyo.

Reds-Pirates Preview

After hitting plenty of homers on a homestand, the Cincinnati Reds could find it difficult to go deep against a pitcher who has been keeping the ball in the stadium of late. Pittsburgh Pirates starter James McDonald hasn't allowed a homer over his last 33 2-3 innings heading into Monday's opener of a three-game set against the first-place Reds. Cincinnati (27-20) has won...

Arroyo, Reds lit up by Pirates in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- James McDonald scattered five hits over eight shutout innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 on Monday to climb back to .500. Pedro Alvarez, Rod Barajas and Neil Walker all had two hits apiece and knocked in a run for the Pirates, who have won a season-high four straight to improve to 24-24. It was more than enough for McDonald (4-2)...

Reds vs. Pirates series preview

The Reds look to keep things rollin’ as they leave the friendly confines of GABP and make the trip to Pittsburgh for the second time this month. They hope for similar results as when the Redlegs took two of three from the Buccos in their first visit to PNC Park. The pitching match-ups after the break…. Monday, 1:35 Bronson Arroyo (2-2,...

GAMEDAY: Pirates vs. Reds

Reds (27-20) at Pirates (23-24) 1:35 PM EST–PNC Park, Pittsburgh Here is the MLB.com Gameday TV: ROOT Sports First of all, happy Memorial Day to all. Hopefully everyone has been having a great weekend while remembering our service men and women. The Pirates have been doing a nice job of doing so with the camo jerseys, among other things. This is a big series for the Pirates. They’re...
Pirates News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.