Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Preview : 2011 Regular Season Game 54 - Pirates at Mets


Pittsburgh Pirates (24-28) at New York Mets (25-28), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - James McDonald (3-3, 5.23) New York - R.A. Dickey (2-5, 4.50)

The New York Mets hope R.A. Dickey's injured right heel will hold up when he takes the mound tonight in the second installment of a four-game series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field.

The knuckleballer suffered the injury in Thursday's 9-3 loss against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field while trying to cover first base. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings that day and allowed four hits with one strikeout to remain at 2-5 on the season with a 4.50 ERA in 11 games (10 starts). Dickey tested the torn plantar fascia in his heel during a bullpen session on Sunday, and was optimistic on making Monday's start.

"It's definitely something you can play through," Dickey said. "If it would've been an issue, I'd have to speak up. But having thrown my bullpen [session] yesterday and done some stuff today -- and recovered well from yesterday's bullpen -- all the signs point to the fact that it's going to be getting better as we go along here. Tomorrow should be no different."

Dickey, a right-hander, is still searching for his first home win of the season and is only 0-4 with a 5.85 ERA in five starts at Citi Field this season. He is 1-0 in three games (2 starts) against the Pirates.

The Mets got great pitching from unbeaten starter Dillon Gee in Monday's 7-3 win in the series opener. Gee limited the Pirates to three runs in seven innings, struck out eight batters and did not issue a walk, improving to 5-0 on the season. Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Rodriguez both threw a scoreless inning of relief to preserve New York's second straight win and third in nine tries.

"I try to go out there and give us a chance to win every five days. Just try to be consistent," Gee said. "My changeup was pretty good tonight."

News wasn't all that good for the depleted Mets as shortstop Jose Reyes was placed on the bereavement list after learning of his grandmother's death back home in the Dominican Republic. Reyes is expected to miss about a week of action for a ballclub that is already without third baseman David Wright (back) and first baseman Ike Davis (ankle). Reyes has posted six straight multi-hit games and leads the majors in that category with 26. Steve Henderson holds the franchise record with eight in a row from July 12-21, 1979.

Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Angel Pagan finished with three hits and an RBI apiece, while Josh Thole drove in a pair of runs last night for New York, which is 2-2 so far on a 10-game homestand. Left fielder and former Pirate Jason Bay was given the day off on Memorial Day and will most likely return to the starting lineup this evening. Bay will face his former Pirates club for the first time since he was traded to Boston in a three-team deal on July 31, 2008. Bay is the only Rookie of the Year in Pittsburgh history.



The Mets are 11-6 in their last 17 home games and will also host Atlanta for three games on the residency.

Pittsburgh has dropped two straight and five of seven games, and is 2-2 on a seven-game road trip. In last night's loss at Citi Field, Chris Snyder finished with two hits, including a home run, and two RBI for the Pirates, who were out hit by a 15-5 margin.

Pirates starter Charlie Morton gave up 11 of those and lasted six innings on the hill for a no-decision, allowing three runs -- one earned -- with four strikeouts and no walks. Daniel McCutchen was dealt the loss for giving up the go-ahead runs in the seventh inning with the score tied at 3-3. McCutchen walked Carlos Beltran leading off the frame, gave up a single to Murphy and served up a hit in the gap to Thole that brought home both runners.

"This was a night that a leadoff walk became a challenge right away," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

McCutchen entered Monday's game having given up only one earned run in 22 1/3 innings of work. The Pirates have never won at Citi Field, going 0-8 there the past three years.

James McDonald draws the assignment tonight for the Pirates and is 3-3 with a 5.23 earned run average in 10 starts this season. McDonald did not factor in the outcome of last Wednesday's 4-2 loss versus Atlanta, as he allowed just two runs over six innings with six strikeouts and one walk.

McDonald, a right-hander, is 3-1 in his previous four decisions (6 starts) and 2-3 in six road outings this season. He is 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in six career appearances (2 starts) against the Mets. McDonald did not post a decision in a 1-0 loss at the Mets on Sept. 13, when he fired eight shutout innings and scattered five hits at Citi Field.

New York won six of seven meetings with the Pirates a year ago and has won eight in a row at home in this series. Pittsburgh's last road win in this series was a 7-5 triumph on August 11, 2008 at Shea Stadium.
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