The Bucs begin a 7-game road trip that takes them through
That Clint Hurdle has the Pirates above .500 warrants atleast some respect even if the baseball odds don’t show it for this game. In fact,
Granted, they’re in a weak division where being five gamesabove .500 is keeping them right there with the leaders. The NL Central standings are a virtual 3-waytie with the Pirates and Cards a percentage point ahead of the Brewers.
Hurdle will send young James McDonald (6-4, 4.15) to themound to open the trip and the series. Two trends in his favor are Pittsburgh emerging victorious in all threeof his July starts (2.45 ERA, 18 K, 18.1 IP) and the Pirates 4-0 in his lastfour games outside PNC Park (2.55 ERA, 20 K, 24.2 IP).
McDonald has turned around his poor start to ’11 to becomeone of Hurdle’s most reliable starters. The Pirates are 8-3 with him on the mound since May 19 at
One of the defeats in that span came when
Tim Hudson (9-6, 3.39) is just the first of five very tougharms the Pirates will face in the coming week. They will also see Tommy Hanson on Tuesday followed by Jair Jurrjensbefore taking on Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in Philly this weekend.
The Braves come home after a 3-4 road trip that includedSunday night’s 4-3 loss in
Fredi Gonzalez’s club does own a top-notch home record,however, with a 30-19 mark this season and 86-44 since the start of the 2010campaign. The Braves swept the Piratesin a 3-game series at Turner Field last season and have won eight of the last11 head-to-head collisions with the Bucs.
A couple of injury notes include Chipper Jones (knee)possibly being activated for Monday’s game. The
Warm and humid will prevail in