Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pirates Game 27 Preview - @ Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers - 8:10 p.m.
James McDonald (2-2, 4.38) vs. Marco Estrada (2-1, 3.86)

Season Series (Milwaukee leads 1-0)
April 29, 2013 - Milwaukee 10, Pittsburgh 4


Lineups

Pirates (15-11)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 9
5. Sanchez 3
6. Alvarez 5
7. Inge 4
8. Barmes 6
9. McDonald 1

Brewers (13-11)
1. Aoki 9
2. Segura 6
3. Braun 7
4. Lucroy 2
5. Weeks 4
6. Gomez 8
7. Betancourt 5
8. Maldonado 3
9. Estrada 1


Notes:

-The Brewers lost in Marco Estrada's last start but he still was pretty good. He went 6.1 innings against the Padres and gave up five hits and only one earned run.

-Last season Estrada made three starts against the Pirates and posted a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings. He struck out 25 and only walked three while surrendering only four runs and 13 hits.

-James McDonald has been pretty up and down this season and hopefully he bounces back after a below after outing the last time out against the Phillies. In his last start he went five innings and gave up three runs on five hits and struck out four.

-Before the game the Pirates said they had released Jonathan Sanchez. He was awful. In four starts (five appearances) here was his line: 13.2 innings, 25 hits, 18 runs, eight walks, 15 strikeouts. 11.85 ERA. Yikes.

-Pirates called up Bryan Morris to take the place of Sanchez.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pirates Game 26 Recap - Brewers 10, Pirates 4

-Just your typical opening game of a series for the Pirates. They get beaten pretty badly and you sometimes wonder how they are going to win one game of the series. Thankfully they have been able to come back and give strong performances but tonight was all kinda of awful. So awful that the Pirates waved the white flag in the fourth inning and brought in Jonathan Sanchez to pitch.

-This was Wandy Rodriguez's worst start as a Pirate. He only went 3.2 innings and gave up seven runs (all earned) while walking four and giving up six hits. Nothing went well for Wandy on the night. He gave up five runs in the first inning and walked four hitters. Just not really his night. It doesn't help that the team is playing in Miller Park which is an extreme hitters park and if he doesn't have his best control it was going to be a long night. He didn't have his best control. It was a long game.

-The defense, which has been really good all season, was pretty lousy tonight. In the first inning the Pirates actually had a chance to get out of the inning with only two runs allowed but a bases loaded grounder was hit to Clint Barmes and he booted it and luckily got an out at first base. While it wasn't scored an error it cost the Pirates three more runs and the innings finished as a 5-1 deficit rather than a 2-1 game. Alvarez booted a ball later in the game and Garrett Jones was his normal less than stellar self in right field and it just was all downhill.

-Miller Park is a home run park. Just the way it is. The Brewers had five home runs hit by five different players tonight. One of those players was starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo which was his second home run of the season and fourth in his career against the Pirates. The Brewers also went back-to-back twice on the night.

-The Brewers also had three triples. So, yeah.

-This game sucked. Like, really bad. That being said it is only one game. The Pirates could come out and win the next two games and people probably wouldn't even remember much about this game. I know it probably seems like a stretch that the Pirates can win either of the two games coming up considering how bad the Pirates have been in Miller Park the past few years (plus some) but all it takes is a few hits here and there.

-Games like this happen for every team. This wasn't the first, nor will it be the last, time that the Pirates looked really bad in a game. Overall this season the Pirates have been able to build a wall around games like this and that is exactly what I am going to do. In a 162 game season there are a tons of highs and lows and this is one of those lows. The best thing about baseball is that you don't have to wait too long to get that bad taste out of your mouth.

-James McDonald goes tomorrow. I don't think anyone knows what he is going to give but here is hoping it is good. I can't say I feel too great about it but I have been proven wrong before.

Pirates Game 26 Preview - @ Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers - 8:10 p.m.
Wandy Rodriguez (2-0, 1.66) vs. Yovani Gallardo (2-1, 4.97)


Lineups

Pirates (15-10)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 9
5. Sanchez 3
6. Alvarez 5
7. Inge 4
8. Barmes 6
9. Rodriguez 1

Brewers (12-11)
1. Aoki 9
2. Segura 6
3. Braun 7
4. Lucroy 2
5. Weeks 4
6. Gomez 8
7. Betancourt 5
8. Maldonado 3
9. Gallardo 1


Notes:

-Yovani Gallardo comes in having a little bit of a down hear so far and despite the fact that he could have killed someone when he was pulled over with a DUI a few weeks ago Major League Baseball seems to think that is OK. He has been better (pitching wise) in his last two starts going 6.2 innings giving up eight hits and three earned runs in a 6-3 win over the Padres.

-Rodriguez is coming off a so-so start against the Phillies where he went only 5.2 innings and gave up nine hits and three runs. Rodriguez has been the staff ace thus far so I expect a good outing from him tonight.

-Russell Martin was honored with the NL Player of the Week honor after hitting .375 with four home runs (lead the NL) and a .958 slugging percentage.

-I hate the Brewers.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Penguins/Islanders Playoff Schedule

As you have probably heard the Penguins will be playing the New York Islanders in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Here is the schedule for those games:

Wednesday, May 1 - NY Islanders at Pittsburgh - 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Friday, May 3 - NY Islanders at Pittsburgh - 7:00 p.m. (NBCSN)

Sunday, May 5 - Pittsburgh at NY Islanders - 12:00 p.m. (NBC)

Tuesday, May 7 - Pittsburgh at NY Islanders - 7:00 p.m. (NBCSN)

Thursday, May 9 - NY Islanders at Pittsburgh* - 7:00 p.m. (TSN)

Saturday, May 11 - Pittsburgh at NY Islanders* - TBD (TSN)

Sunday, May 12 - NY Islanders at Pittsburgh* - TBD (TSN)

* if necessary

[Here is the full schedule for all the series]

Pirates Game 25 Recap - Pirates 9, Cardinals 0

-The Pirates plan of attack nowadays seems to be to lose the first game of the series and then just decide that they aren't going to lose the rest of the series and then take care of business. Just another unreal performance today all the way around and the Pirates take a series from the Cardinals and move to 15-10 which is good for first place in the NL Central on April 28. It wasn't until July a year ago that the Pirates got to the top of the division and while 25 games is a ridiculously small sample side in a 162 game season it feels good to see the Pirates play so well and get production from multiple players. This team started the year 1-5 and now is on a streak where they are 14-5. Nice.

-Jeff Locke was coming off his best start of the season (career) and he matched that again today. He went seven innings and gave up only three hits and no runs while striking out four and walking two. The two starts that Locke had where he was highly productive he combined for four walks and in his previous two starts before that he combined for eight walks (four in each). Not real tough to figure out what he needs to do to give himself a chance to be successful. Throw strikes and limit the free passes and he could stay in the rotation even after Charlie Morton and Francisco Liriano comes back. While it is really good to see back-to-back starts like this he probably isn't going to pitch as well as his 2.83 ERA that he has now. After the start his xFIP is up at 4.60 but if he can have a few more solid starts and keep the walks down and limit players hitting the ball out of the ballpark then it could get interesting.

-Just huge by Locke that he could go out and get seven innings. Justin Wilson came in for the final two innings and got the combined shutout but the guys in the pen go to sit and relax and it was refreshing to see someone other than A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez go out there and have a solid game on consecutive starts.

-Russell Martin. Man. Two home runs for Martin today and he has just been ridiculously good. He's now up to .267/.345/.547 after his three hits and he now leads the team in home runs with five. His defense has been good and after a rough start to the season where he was below .100 for the first 30-40 plate appearances he might be in the running for the top hitter on the team with Starling Marte. The Pirates have been dreadfully bad at MLB free agency the last few years but right now it is looking like this has been a great signing. The Pirates have been awful behind the plate and after last year with how bad Rod Barajas was this is like having your cake and eating it too. I mean the differences behind the plate from last year to this year can't really even be explained the gap is so big.

-Speaking of Marte he collected multiple hits for the 11th time this season.

-Jose Tabata hit a home run. It's true, it does happen. He did strike out three times (the Pirates did 11 times) but the home run was the second run for the Pirates at the time so for a while it was looking like that was a huge hit. It still was a big hit but the Pirates piled it on late to make it seem insignificant.

-The Cardinals pen, yikes. The Pirates got to Shelby Miller three three runs over 5.2 innings but then tacked on six runs to the pen over the final 3.1. This is exactly what the Pirates have to do to be successful. They worked the count and made Miller (who has been really good this year) throw a ton of pitches (113) and then take advantage of the pen, especially ones that have been struggling.

-I talked about it before the season that this Pirates team is probably the most offensively talented one that the Pirates have had in some time. Last year Andrew McCutchen (who didn't play today) really was the guy that led the offense. That is good because it doesn't matter how you win but when he had an off day there was no chance the Pirates were going to win. What has been nice about this year is that the production is coming all over the board. One game it is Michael McKenry hitting a pair of home runs late and the next night it is Gaby Sanchez going deep. On another night it is Brandon Inge doubling home a run and the next Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez knock in runs. It is good to have balance and it is weird to see since the Pirates didn't have this over the last couple of years when they were contending. While I don't think the Pirates can sustain the pace they are playing now it gives them a better chance to win on a nightly basis when it is more than one or two guys who are getting the job done.

-First place after 25 games really doesn't mean all that much but damn if it doesn't feel good. It is really fun watching the Pirates play baseball right now and while they are going to eventually have a losing streak just be happy that they aren't awful like they were the first six games of the season and that they are competing, and beating, some of the best the NL has to offer.

Pirates Game 25 Preview - @ St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals - 2:15 p.m.
Jeff Locke (2-1, 3.74) vs. Shelby Miller(3-1, 1.44)

Season Series (Tied 2-2)
April 15, 2013 - St. Louis 10, Pittsburgh 6
April 17, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 0
April 26, 2013 - St. Louis 9, Pittsburgh 1
April 27, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 3


Lineups

Pirates (14-10)
1. Marte 8
2. Tabata 7
3. Jones 9
4. Sanchez 3
5. Alvarez 5
6. Martin 2
7. Inge 4
8. McDonald 6
9. Locke 1

Cardinals (14-9)
1. Carpenter 4
2. Beltran 9
3. Holliday 7
4. Craig 3
5. Molina 2
6. Freese 5
7. Robinson 8
8. Kozma 6
9. Miller 1


Notes:

-Shelby Miller has been doing a really nice job for the Cardinals this year but the Pirates were able to get to him this season when they defeated him on April 17 5-0. In that game Miller went six innings and struck out six hitters giving up six hits and two runs.

-Jeff Locke is coming off the best start of his young career in a 2-0 win over the Phillies on April 23. He went six innings, striking out six, walking two and only giving up two hits.

-It would be really nice to take two out of three from the Cardinals. The Pirates are already 4-2 on this road trip and to finish the first two series 5-2 would be really huge with a trip to Milwaukee coming up.

-Andrew McCutchen is out of the lineup. He has been struggling a bit at the plate and probably for the best to give him a full day off. Starling Marte will be in center which is where he probably should be to begin with. Unfortunatly this means that Garrett Jones has to play both the outfield. Not ideal but it is what it is.

Penguins Game 48 Recap - Penguins 8, Hurricanes 3

-This was exactly what the Penguins needed before the season ended. They came out as the better team and showed it. They were better than the last two teams they faced the last couple of games and they looked really good. There should be very limited worry about this team going into the playoffs because while they gave up a two goal lead they completely dominated the game.

-James Neal came back and all he did was put three pucks in the back of the net. That will do James, that will do.

-Paul Martin came back and played almost 24 minutes. He will be OK.

-As it comes down to it the Penguins will play either the Islanders or Sens in the first round. I am OK with either team.

-The Penguins power play is just unfair.

-The Penguins were unreal dominating and Sidney Crosby wasn't playing. Yikes

-Playoffs for the Penguins will start Wednesday.

-Carolina tried to hand with the Penguins but they were just too good.

Pirates Game 24 Recap - Pirates 5, Cardinals 3

-Really nice come from behind win for the Pirates. They were getting shut down for much of the game but the Cardinals decided they wanted to rely on their pen to win the game and not use Jake Westbrook who had shut down the Pirates to nearly nothing but I am not complaining.

-The Pirates got the job done from the bottom of the lineup. The six-seven-eight spots in the lineup went a combined 6-for-12 with four runs scored and two runs driven in. I can deal with that. At times you are going to need the bottom of your lineup to step up in order to win a game and that is exactly what the bottom of the lineup did tonight.

A.J. Burnett was really good tonight. Sure he got into some deep counts and got into some trouble but as one of the top arms in the rotation he needed to minimalize the damage and that is exactly what he did. He went six innings and threw 111 pitches while giving up five hits, two runs, and struck out six. Nice job by Burnett.

Good win for the Pirates. They played like garbage in the first game and lost an ugly game but were able to come back and even up the series. They win the series tomorrow and it is a huge overall trip to St. Louis despite the first game.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Penguins Game 48 Preview - vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes

7:30 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Last Penguins Game
April 25, 2013 - New Jersey 3, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]

Final game of the regular season and much like the last four or five games there really isn't much to talk about going in to this one. Actually that is a lie, there is a lot more to talk about this game than there were with the others but the game importance still is about the same.

First lets start with the Penguins. Tonight will be the return of both James Neal and Paul Martin to the lineup. This is pretty significant news for Martin as this is right at the beginning of the 4-6 week timetable Dan Bylsma gave the team when he announced the injury. That is very good news for the Penguins, not just for Martin but for Neal also as he was out with a concussion and you never know how players are going to respond to that.

Interesting note from Bylsma when he talked to the media earlier that Neal is going to be playing on the left wing exclusively letting Jarome Iginla play the right wing where he hasn't played much in his career. Evgeni Malkin will be centering that line so it seems that the team is going to keep Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz together to play with Sindey Crosby when he eventually gets back. That is a good thing in my opinion.

On the Carolina side of the bill they will be brining in the whole Staal family tonight. As you know the main focus is going to be on Jordan Staal as it is his first visit back to Pittsburgh since getting traded at the draft last season. I am sure it is going to be a pretty emotional moment for him and while the fans at the draft wildly cheered the trade when it happened I would be pretty shocked if he doesn't get a standing ovation when the Penguins give him a video tribute. Staal was so good for the Penguins and was such an important part of the back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009 that it would really be a shame if anyone booed him. What a player.

The Hurricanes also brough up another Staal the other day as Jared Staal will be playing on a line with his brother Jordan. Least we can forget that Eric Staal plays on the first line for the Canes so if you are planning on playing a Staal drinking game be prepared to get hammered.

Obviously this doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things but it would be nice if the Penguins could pick up a win on the final game and end on a good note. They have yet to lose three games in a row this year so I anticipate them coming out and getting a win but I guess nothing would really surprise me.

Marc-Andre Fleury is in goal tonight and some good new for Flower as his wife gave berth to their daughter. Good for MAF. What a dude.


Probables

Pittsburgh (35-12-0)

Forwards
Jarome Iginla - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jussi Jokinen - Pascal Dupuis
Brenden Morrow- Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke
Tanner Glass - Craig Adams - Tyler Kennedy

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Paul Martin

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


Carolina (19-24-4)(via Penguins website)

Forwards
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Tuomo Ruutu - Jordan Staal - Jared Staal
Tim Wallace - Jeff Skinner - Pat Dwyer
Brett Bellemore - Nicolas Blanchard - Kevin Westgarth

Defense
Justin Faulk - Tim Gleason
Jamie McBain - Jay Harrison
Bobby Sanguinetti - Marc-Andre Bergeron

Goaltender
Cam Ward


Season Series (Tied 1-1)

April 9, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 3

February 28, 2013 - Carolina 4, Pittsburgh 1 The Stats

Pirates Game 24 Preview - @ St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals - 4:15 p.m.
A.J. Burnett (1-2, 2.79) vs. Jake Westbrook (1-1, 1.25)

Season Series (St. Louis leads 2-1)
April 15, 2013 - St. Louis 10, Pittsburgh 6
April 17, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 0
April 26, 2013 - St. Louis 9, Pittsburgh 1


Lineups

Pirates (13-10)
1. Marte 7
2. Snider 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 3
5. Inge 4
6. Alvarez 5
7. Martin 2
8. Barmes 6
9. Burnett 1

Cardinals (14-8)
1. Carpenter 5
2. Beltran 9
3. Holliday 7
4. Craig 3
5. Molina 2
6. Jay 8
7. Kozma 6
8. Descalso 4
9. Westbrook 1


Notes:

-Jake Westbrook is coming off a solid quality start in his last outing as he went six innings and gave up three runs while striking out four and giving up seven hits in a Cardinals 7-3 loss to Philadelphia.

-Last season Westbrook faced the Pirates a staggering five times and posted a pretty bad 5.12 ERA as he gave up 19 runs (18 earned) and 42 hits in only 31.2 innings. Hopefully the Pirates can get after him today.

-Burnett is coming off a so-so performance last outing as he went five innings and struck out seven while giving up five hits and two earned runs.

-Will be interesting to see if anyone comes today of what happened last night with Jonathan Sanchez getting thrown out of the game and Lance Lynn not getting thrown after hitting Starling Marte twice.

-Neil Walker will be out for about a week after he had to get some stitches after getting nicked up turning a double play late in the game. I assume it will be Brandon Inge time. Great.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pirates Game 23 Recap - Cardinals 9, Pirates 1

-I was unable to watch a vast majority of this game because of other obligations so this will be brief. It looks like I picked a good game to miss as there was a good bit of drama and all in all the Pirates got worked.

-The big news was that Jonathan Sanchez got tossed from the game without recording an out. After giving up back-to-back home runs to lead off the game Sanchez went up and in to Allen Craig and nearly hit him in the head. Sanchez was immediately tossed from the game. He finished with a line that was pretty awful: 0.0+ IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 HR. Might have been best that he was tossed out as it could have been really ugly. Sanchez should have thrown his last pitch as a Pirates. He has been too terrible and all he has done is forced the Pirates pen to throw at least seven innings each outing. It was already a mistake to send him back out there today but if he pitches again someone should be under heat.

-Obviously after Sanchez was tossed both teams got warned and that should of settled it. Unfortunately Starling Marte got got hit not once but twice by Cardinals starter Lance Lynn. Now the first hit by pitch was just an inside fastball that ran in and hit Marte. No big deal. A lot of people think that since the teams were warned that any time you hit a player your pitcher gets tossed. That isn't how the "rule" works. If the umpire feels it is intentional then he tosses the pitcher and he didn't feel that was necessary. The second time Marte got hit Lynn should have been tossed. No question. Actually the Pirate had another coach tossed after Clint Hurdle was run with Sanchez. No idea how Lynn stays in the game.

-I am not really sure what this means going forward but I hope it is not one of these things where we complain about whether A.J. Burnett should throw at hitters tomorrow or going forward. Jared Hughes came in later and went high and tight on Lynn and it seemed like that was a response but you have to imagine that there will be a ton of talk about Burnett going after someone tomorrow. People are going to refer to last year and what happened with the Reds but I am not a big believer, at all, that was the reason the Pirates lost. As much fun as giving good teams free base runners are I would be much happier just getting a win tomorrow. Knowing Burnett though he might want to try to make a point.

-After Sanchez was tossed it didn't get much better. Jeanmar Gomez came in and threw 4.1 innings and gave up three runs followed by Hughes who threw 2.2 innings and gave up two hits and two walks and it was finished off by Vin Mazzaro who gave up five hits, and four runs in only one inning of work. Nobody of substance was really used and in a game that never really felt like the Pirates had a chance I guess we can consider that a win. I guess.

-The Pirates had some chances in this game. They were getting base runners on base when they were down two or three runs but just couldn't get that one hit. The Cardinals put the game out of reach (so to speak) in the fifth inning but in the second, third, and fourth the Pirates had runners on they just couldn't get anything going. It happens.

-Day game for the Pirates tomorrow so they can get back out there and forget about this game. It was ugly. Turn the page.

Pirates Game 23 Preview - @ St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals - 8:15 p.m.
Jonathan Sanchez (0-2, 11.12) vs. Lance Lynn (3-0, 3.68)

Season Series (Tied 1-1)
April 15, 2013 - St. Louis 10, Pittsburgh 6
April 17, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 0


Lineups

Pirates (13-9)
1. Marte 7
2. Snider 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 3
5. Walker 4
6. Alvarez 5
7. Martin 2
8. Barmes 6
9. Sanchez 1

Cardinals (13-8)
1. Carpenter 4
2. Beltrán 9
3. Holliday 7
4. Craig 3
5. Molina 2
6. Freese 5
7. Jay 8
8. Kozma 6
9. Lynn 1

Notes:

-After taking three of four from both the Braves and Phillies the Pirates could pass the Cardinals up in the NL Central tonight with a win.

-Lance Lynn goes for the Cardinals and he has been pretty good so far this year. In his last outing he went seven innings against the Phillies and struck out eight while not giving up any runs in a Cardinals 7-0 win.

-In his last meeting against the Pirates on April 15 he gave up seven hits in five innings of work, striking out four and giving up four earned runs. The Pirates were able to get to him and will hope to do so again tonight.

-Jonathan Sanchez is on the bump for the Pirates. He has been nothing short of awful so far this season. He lasted only three innings in a Pirates win over the Braves last week where he struck out five and let in a couple of runs despite consistently getting into trouble.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Steelers Select Jarvis Jones

In what most are calling the worst kept secret in the draft the Steelers got the guy they wanted in the first round in Georgia outside rush linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones is a little old at 23 thanks to losing a year in college transfering from USC to Georgia but the last two years he made 28 sacks and did an outstanding job of causing havoic in the backfield so you can see why the Steelers wanted to take him.

The knock on Jones was that he lacked the straight line speed with a slow 40 yard dash and he is somewhat of a health risk with a neck injury he had in his freshman year at USC. The USC doctors didn't clear him to play so Jones went for other opinions and that is really why he transfered. The Georgia doctors gave him the OK to play (as did some other doctors from what I understand) and he was off with a productive final two years.

Overall the Steelers were thrilled to get him. While I am not a huge fan of Jones because of the medicals and some problems that many have seen of his inability to get off blocks I am not sure there were many better options when the pick came to the Steelers. They were in a huge need for a pass rusher now that James Harrison is gone and while this might be a high risk pick it is also a high reward pick. The Steelers are extremely strong in the first round of drafts and if they thinkn it is the right pick then I am all in with it.

Here is the [breakdown of Jones from NFL.com]. Mike Mayock said about the Steelers pick:

"He's a pretty good fit there in Pittsburgh. If you look at the Pittsburgh edge at linebackers, this kid fits from a body type and an explosion perspective. I think he'll get on the field and challenge Jason Worilds for the starting spot."

If you know me you know that I think Mayock is the best in the game at what he does. I know he liked the pick before the draft and I trust his word over most anyone else.

Here are some highlights of Jones. To be honest I didn't see a lot of Georgia games so there isn't much more for me to add here:







Penguins Game 47 Recap - Devils 3, Penguins 2



-The game for the most part was a boring one. I mean Devils games usually aren't all that interesting but even though the Penguins got out to a 2-0 lead you never really had that feeling that anything was on the line. Actually nothing was on the line so I guess I feel OK thinking that.

-There is no reason to be concerned about this. Well, any time you blow a two goal lead there is something to be concerned about but when the Penguins 15 game win streak was snapped they lost a pair of games back-to-back so it's not like this hasn't happened before. The good thing about the season is that the Penguins haven't lose three games in a row so I feel pretty good that they are able to bounce back on Saturday night against Carolina. Other than that it wasn't all that eye opening to see them lose. Would have liked to see them keep their focus a little more but it is what it is.

-Marc-Andre Fleury was alright tonight but he wasn't as sharp as you would like him to be. I am one of the biggest defenders of him there are but the second goal he let up needs to be stopped. The game winner he couldn't do anything about as it was tipped off Brandon Sutter's stick but at this point I am nit picking a little bit. He played a pretty good game but you would like to see him shut down the third period and give the Penguins a win.

-Evgeni Malkin looked really good for the second consecutive day. The only thing he wasn't doing was finding the back of the net but he looked really good playing with Jarome Iginla and Pascal Dupuis.

-Jussi Jokinen scored another goal tonight. Dude has been unreal good.

-Kris Letang just makes the back end so good. The pass he made on the Jokinen goal won't get talked about but it was absolutely beautiful.

-Season finale on Saturday against Carolina. Then the playoffs. Wooo.

Penguins Game 47 Preview - @ New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils

7:30 p.m., Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

The Last Penguins Game
April 23, 2013 - Buffalo 4, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]

As the regular season winds down with only a few games left there really isn't much left to do for the Penguins. They have the top seed and really the only thing that most care about is that they don't suffer an injury in the final two games against the Devils and Hurricanes. The news is getting better for the Penguins as news trickled down that both Paul Martin and James Neal have an outside chance of playing on Saturday in the regular season finale. It was thought that Martin was out until the second playoff series (if the Penguins made it) and with concussions you really have no idea what a timetable might be but both were practicing with the team which is outstanding news.

Not really sure on Sidney Crosby. Dan Bylsma said that he had some dental work done today but that was somewhat expected and really not too much else going on. There is still hope that he will be able to suit up for the playoff opener on May 1. He is looking to get his clearance tomorrow so I would be pretty surprised if he played on Saturday, then again nothing would really surprise me.

The Penguins are sending out nearly the same lineup as they did against Buffalo. Brooks Orpik is not in the lineup with an upper body injury and nobody really knows how bad it may or may not be. Hopefully it isn't anything too bad but even if it would keep him out for some playoff games it is nice to know that the Penguins have some depth on the back end to fill in.


Probables

Pittsburgh (35-11-0) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Pascal Dupuis - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla
Brenden Morrow - Jussi Jokinen - Beau Bennett
Chris Kunitz - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke
Tanner Glass - Craig Adams - Tyler Kennedy

Defense
Kris Letang - Mark Eaton
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


New Jersey (18-18-10) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Alex Ponikarovsky - Andrei Loktionov - Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrik Elias - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson
Dainius Zubrus - Jacob Josefson - Steve Sullivan
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Defense
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky
Alexander Urbom - Peter Harrold

Goaltender
Johan Hedberg


Season Series (New Jersey leads 2-1)

February 10, 2013 - New Jersey 3, Pittsburgh 1

February 9, 2013 - New Jersey 3, Pittsburgh 1 February 2, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, New Jersey 1   The Stats

Pirates Game 22 Recap - Pirates 6, Phillies 4

-Just as it was in the Braves series last week the Pirates too three of four from the Phillies thanks to a mix of luck and skill. The Pirates won today by the score of 6-4 and while they seemed to be on the ropes early against Cliff Lee they finally got to him, and the pen, late and banged out 14 hits thanks to the largely homerific scoring of the Phillies official scorer.

-James McDonald wasn't great today but he wasn't horrible either. He only went 5.0+ innings but gave up three runs on five hits. He ran into some problems with three walks but things could have been a lot worse. This isn't an ideal start for McDonald but he was able to keep the game within striking distance and the bats came alive again like it did in games prior.

-Pedro Alvarez had another really solid game where he was putting a sting to the ball nearly every at bat. He had a weak pop out in his final at bat but two of the previous pitches he rocked balls fould down the right field line that were as far as the home run Ryan Howard hit yesterday, which was really far. Even the outs he made were good at bats and this was coming against some left handed pitching, something he has struggled with in the past. I think it is safe to say that he is feeling good about his swing and while his line is only at .188/.263/.362 he has looked really good this entire series.

-Gaby Sanchez had another nice game against a left handed pitcher. Much like Alvarez Garrett Jones struggles against left handed pitching and to have someone like Sanchez that can platoon with Jones at first base is really nice to have. Platooning isn't something you want to have to do but the way the splits work out it has gone pretty well so far. A two hit game for Sanchez that included a home run off Lee in the seventh inning that got the rally started and overall he knocked in three runs on the day. That will do Gaby, that will do.

-Speaking of Jones he got a pinch hit opportunity late with one out and the bases loaded. The score was tied and to be honest I was thinking that Jones was either going to strikeout or ground into an inning ending double play, even if he was facing a righty. All Jones did was lay off some pitches he has been known to chance and got the count to 3-2 and drilled a pitch to the wall in right, plating two runs and continuing the inning.

-Clint Barmes was the only position player that got into the game that didn't register a hit. He started the game so needless to say it wasn't a good day for him. He did get on base once when he was hit by a pitch and actually scored a run but his offense has been brutally bad.

-After the 1-5 start the Pirates are now 13-9 and playing some pretty good baseball. I think they got a little more lucky in this series with the Phillies but all wins count the same in my book. I thought a split would have been nice and again they came in and won a series against Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay. While they didn't beat those guys they got to the pen late and made them pay. Good to see.

-Pirates now get to go to St. Louis to play a three game series with the Cardinals. Keep riding the hot streak.

Pirates Game 22 Preview - @ Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies - 1:05 p.m.
James McDonald (2-2, 4.12) vs. Cliff Lee (2-1, 2.83)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-1)
April 22, 2013 - Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2
April 23, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 0
April 24, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Philadelphia 3


Lineups

Pirates (12-9)
1. Marte 7
2. Inge 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Sanchez 3
5. McKenry 2
6. Alvarez 5
7. Tabata 9
8. Barmes 6
9. McDonald 1

Phillies (9-13)
1. Rollins 6
2. Frandsen 5
3. Utley 4
4. Howard 3
5. Nix 9
6. Brown 7
7. Carrera 8
8. Kratz 2
9. Lee 1

Notes:

-Cliff Lee has been the Phillies most consistent starter this year and is coming off his worse outing of the season when he only went five innings and gave up five earned runs and seven hits.

-Last season against the Pirates he made one start where he went six innings and struck out four while giving up only one run on two hits.

-The last two games the Phillies have had a runner on third with no outs and failed to score. That was set up last night by some horrible base running by Jimmy Rollins and the Pirate turned a routine 5-4-2 double play. I don't think you can get away with that all that often so lets try not to have that happen again.

-James McDonald goes today. His last start was his best of the season in a 3-1 win over Atlanta when he went six innings, struck out nine, and only gave up two hits. Hopefully the Pirates get that JMac today and not the one that only went 1.2 innings where he gave up eight hits and just as many runs against the Cardinals.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pirates Game 21 Recap - Pirates 5, Phillies 3

-The Pirates got handled pretty well by Roy Halladay to start the game and while they were down 3-1 after six innings of work and it looked like it was going to be a continuation of the first two games of the series where the Pirates just went quietly into the night despite a gutty effort from Wandy Rodriguez. Best thing that happened was that Halladay got lifted and the Pirates went on to score four runs in the final three innings and assure them of at least a sweep in the series. Really huge.

-Rodriguez wasn't his best tonight but he was able to fight through it and give the Pirates a chance to win. He only went 5.2 innings and walked two while giving up nine hits but he was able to get out of some tough jams and keep the game close. He didn't have the best feel with his curveball and got taken way deep twice and even fought through a 30+ pitch inning when you could tell he was visibly frustrated. All that said he kept the game close until Halladay was taken out of the game and the Pirates could square up some of the Phillies pitchers.

-The pen was once again good. Vin Mazzaro was especially good as he went 1.1 innings and went through the top of the Philadelphia lineup in the seventh inning without a problem. Would I have left him in to face Ryan Howard who homered about 800 feet earlier off Rodriguez? No, probably not, but he made it work and got through the inning and handed the ball off to Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. Those two combined to give up only one hit and they were their usual selves. It is really fun to watch.

-Pedro Alvarez with another nice game as he picked up two hits including a home run. The home run was even off a left handed pitcher!!!! He started off the Pirates scoring in the fourth inning with a two out RBI single off Halladay and then cut the Phillies lead to 3-2 with a home run to right field. You want to know how strong Alvarez is? All you have to do is watch his home run off Antonio Bastardo. It was an off speed pitch on the outer half and he was way out front of the pitch but was somehow able to get the barrel on it and used pretty much all upper body strength to hit it out to right. Really awesome to see. No idea how he was able to pull that ball out of the park but he did.

-The Pirates really took over after Bastardo left and set up man Mike Adams was brought in. Adams started the inning by walking pinch hitter Jose Tabata and then the fun started. Starling Marte was next up and Clint Hurdle wanted him to bunt. Don't ask me why but this was a horrible decision. Luckily for the Pirates Marte fouled off two straight bunts and he was allowed to swing and all he did was pick up an infield single. Then the number two batter came up, Travis Snider, and Hurdle wanted him to bunt. Now, this bunt is a little more defensible but I have no idea how two of your hottest hitters come up and you want them both to bunt. As if they are incapable of moving runner up with base hits. After a failed first attempt at a bunt Snider was either not given the bunt sign or just ignored it (probably not but I really wish this was the case) and singled through the middle to tie the game. Runners now on first and third and no outs and the Phillies pulled Adams who didn't record a single out and brought a lefty on to face Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, and Alvarez. Well Hurdle used one of his last bench options and called on Brandon Inge and I just had a bad feeling about it. Luckily it worked out and Inge singled home a run. The Pirates didn't get another run but I think the point of bunting not resulting in any of those runs scoring should signal that bunting was still a horrible idea with your two best hitters.

-I think that it might be time to give Andrew McCutchen a day off to clear his head. Throw Marte in center and let both Snider and Tabata play. Cutch has been struggling a good deal lately and just hasn't been squaring balls up. It would be much different if he was hitting balls right at guys but it seems like every time he is making contact it results in weak ground balls to the left side of the infield. I have no doubt that he is going to get hot but he hasn't had solid contact in some time. A game off wouldn't kill him.

-I still don't like having James McDonald and Inge on the team at the same time but Inge has come up with some pretty huge at bats the last two games. I don't expect this to continue but at least he is getting these hits in close games when the Pirates need them rather than in a blowout when they are "wasted."

-Pretty big win overall for the Pirates. When Halladay was dealing it looked like they might lose two of the first three of the series and have to go into tomorrow against Cliff Lee with a wildly inconsistent James McDonald on the mound. Now it seems as if they are playing with a little house money. I say that because I think coming in getting a split would have been nice and anything more than that is just gravy. Get that gravy tomorrow.

Pirates Game 21 Preview - @ Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies - 7:05 p.m.
Wandy Rodriguez (2-0, 0.56) vs. Roy Halladay (2-2, 6.04)

Season Series (Tied 1-1)
April 22, 2013 - Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2
April 23, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 0


Lineups

Pirates (11-9)
1. Marte 7
2. Snider 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 3
5. Walker 4
6. Alvarez 5
7. Martin 2
8. McDonald 6
9. Rodriguez 1

Phillies (9-12)
1. Rollins 6
2. Utley 4
3. Young 5
4. Howard 3
5. Mayberry 9
6. Brown 7
7. Revere 8
8. Quintero 2
9. Halliday 1


Notes:

-Halladay has had a rough start to the season but is coming off his best start of the year when he went seven innings against the Cardinals when he struck out six and only gave up two hits in a Phillies win.

-Last season Halladay struck out five and gave up only two hits in his only start against the Bucs.

-Rodriguez is coming off his best outing where he gave up only one hit in seven shutout innings of work against Atlanta.

-Andrew McCutchen hasn't had a hit in his last eight at bats.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Penguins Game 46 Recap - Sabres 4, Penguins 2

 

-For the most part this wasn't a very exciting game. It never really felt like either team got into the game until about ten minutes left in the third period when Jarome Iginla tied it up with a power play goal but as you thought the Penguins were going to get at least a point Steve Ott scored the game winner with about three and a half minutes left in the game. All told the loss doesn't mean much but losing is never fun.

 -The good news is that Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang were back in the lineup tonight. It was bigger news that Malkin was in the game since Letang was just missing because of food poisoning and it was pretty encouraging for Malkin. He looked as he should coming off missing a few weeks of action as he had unreal jump. The only thing he didn't do tonight was score a goal. He was getting chances and he was creating chances for his teammates, they just didn't fall. I have to admit I was a little worried about Malkin's shoulder being more serious than he or the Penguins letting on but he looked really good and even was throwing out some hits. Hopefully there are no more setbacks.

 -Pascal Dupuis might have got a billion prime scoring chances tonight and just couldn't finish. With how good he has been this year at putting the puck in the back of the net but tonight he couldn't get one to fall. That is going to happen and it is still good that he got a ton of chances but another game just like this and he probably has two or three goals.

 -Iginla's been absolutely spectacular on the power play. Not that the Penguins need help on the power play but his one time shot is nearly impossible to stop. As good as Ryan Miller was tonight he literally had no chance to stop the shot that tied the game at two about halfway through the third period. It sucks that it didn't result in at least a point but his shot on the power play is a dangerous element to have.

 -For the most part the Penguins stayed healthy in the game but they did have to play a majority of the game with only five defensemen. Brooks Orpik had to leave the game early with what is being classified as an upper body injury. No idea how serious that may be because with only two more games left there was no need to send him back out there if he was a little dinged up. It sucked the Penguins had to play a man down on the defensive end but it just hasn't worth it sending him back out.

 -Marc-Andre Fleury played his first game in a while tonight and was pretty good overall. He did let in three goals but it could have been a lot more. His lateral movement is ridiculously good and he saved a few goals thanks to great reads on the puck and just being in good position. Not really worried about him at all. He should get the final two starts and should be able to dust off any wrinkles that he may have from the extended break he just had.

-Kris Letang is a monster on the ice. 28 minutes tonight and looks as good as he has all season. He did take a few hits and got a nice cut below his left eye but good to see he got back out on the ice and continued to look fine.

-All told this game didn't mean anything. The Penguins weren't going to catch Chicago and that makes it more set in stone after tonight. The Presidents Trophy would have been nice but it largely doesn't mean anything. The biggest thing going forward is staying healthy. I am sure some more guys will get a game off on Thursday and I would assume that the Penguins will be at a full roster, or as close as they can be, on Saturday and as they gear up for the playoffs.

Pirates Game 20 Recap - Pirates 2, Phillies 0

-This game was largely like the game that took place last night only instead of the Phillies winning it was the Pirates were were able to pick up a win. Yesterday it was a lesser known pitcher beating up on one of the Pirates best (A.J. Burnett) and today it was a young guy who has really struggled in Jeff Locke who was able to go out and beat one of the Phillies best in Cole Hamels. Nice win for the Pirates.

-Locke probably pitched the best game of the season for the Pirates tonight. He went six innings and struck out six batters while only giving up two hits. The big number is that he only walked two Philies hitters and that limited the damage. Where he was getting in trouble before was putting too many free guys on base and when the opposition was getting hits they were driving those guys in. Not tonight. He pitched out of some damage early on and gave the pen a little bit of rest. They needed it.

-Tony Watson bridged the gap in the seventh inning and really had a nice outing. I don't know what it is about Watson but he makes me nervous every single time he is on the mound. He made the pitches today and if you can give Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli a multiple run lead then the chances are pretty good that the Pirates are going to win.

-Gaby Sanchez got the start tonight thanks to a lefty being on the bump and he came through again. He went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run that gave the Pirates a two run lead in the eighth inning. He might not get a ton of playing time but when he has been in he has given good at bats and already has a couple of home runs. Good on Gaby.

-While I am not a fan at all of Brandon Inge being on the roster he came through tonight and played a pretty good game. He got the Pirates on the board in the fourth inning with a double to deep right centerfield. For the record I don't have a problem with Inge as much as I do with he and John McDonald both being on the team. I would probably rather have Inge on the team and have Jordy Mercer on instead of McDonald but right now the Pirate bench got significantly worse. That being said you have to love a guy coming in and knocking in what would turn out to be the game winning run. I would love to be proven wrong about Inge but a few at bats and him turning a double play to say that he is going to give the Pirates anything substantial.

-The Pirates pitching staff notched 11 strikeouts. Nice.

-In the end the Pirates should have probably won last night and Hamels probably deserved better for his start. Right now the Pirates evened the series and look to get into the drives seat tomorrow when they face Roy Halladay.

Penguins Game 46 Preview - @ Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres

 
7:30 p.m., First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

The Penguins Last Game:
April 22, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Ottawa 1 [Recap]

The Penguins came away with a pretty impressive win last night over a team that was fighting to stay in the playoffs. Tonight the Penguins will play a team that are no longer in the playoffs and actually ended the Penguins winning streak a few short of the NHL record.

Might be an interesting game but probably won't be.


The Probables

Pittsburgh (35-10-0)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Jussi Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Brenden Morrow - Pascal Dupuis - Dustin Jeffrey
Matte Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy
Tanner - Vitale - Adams

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Douglas Murray - Mark Eaton
Robert Bortuzzo - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Buffalo (19-21-6) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Tyler Ennis – Cody Hodgson – Thomas Vanek
Steve Ott – Kevin Porter – Brian Flynn
Jochen Hecht – Mikhail Grigorenko – Drew Stafford
John Scott – Marcus Foligno – Nathan Gerbe

Defense
Christian Ehrhoff – Andrej Sekera
Adam Pardy – Mark Pysyk
Mike Weber – Chad Ruhwedel

Goaltender
Ryan Miller


The Season Series (Tied 1-1-0)

April 2, 2013 - Buffalo 4, Pittsburgh 1

February 17, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Buffalo 3

Pirates Game 20 Preview - @ Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies - 7:05 p.m.
Jeff Locke (1-1, 5.17) vs. Cole Hamels (0-2, 6.46)

Season Series (Philadelphia leads 1-0)
April 22, 2013 - Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2


Lineups

Pirates (10-9)
1. Marte 7
2. Tabata 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Sanchez 3
5. Martin 2
6. Walker 4
7. Inge 5
8. Barmes 6
9. Locke 1

Phillies (9-11)
1. Rollins 6
2. Galvis 4
3. Young 5
4. Howard 3
5. Mayberry 9
6. Brown 7
7. Revere 8
8. Kratz 2
9. Hamels 1


Notes:

-Brandon Inge will be making his Pirates debut tonight. He comes off his rehab assignment and Alex Presley was sent down. This is really not a good thing. I don't have as much problem with Inge on as a bench player but when you have Inge AND John McDonald both on the bench with a chance to play then this is a massive mistake. Just a waste of a bench spot.

-Cole Hamels goes for the Phillies tonight and he has had a really rough start to the season. He has gotten better though as his last start he went seven innings and struck out eight while giving up three runs and five hits.

-Jeff Locke really hasn't been very good so far this season. He has only thrown six innings one time and in his last start he lasted only 4.2 innings, gave up six hits, and four runs in a Pirates loss.

-I must state again that this is a brutally bad decision to have Inge on the roster along with McDonald.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Penguins Game 45 Recap - Penguins 3, Senators 1

 

-To be perfectly honest there was so much hype going into this game with Matt Cooke and the whole Erik Karlsson incident that I really didn't feel like much was going to happen. Chris Neal tried to get Cooke to drop the gloves and Cooke respectfully declined and that was about it. The vaunted whatever group that started the Cooke hate group maybe booed twice all night. Just embarrassing that they made this up to be a big deal. Cooke picked up a late assist and probably laughed at the three Sens fans that were still there.

 -This game really was kind of boring. The Penguins scored a pair of goals in the first period and after that it was pretty much the Penguins trying not to lose the game and just get things done. It felt like it was an optional skate and the Penguins invited over some community college to practice with them. The Senators tried but they just really weren't that good. At all.

 -Tomas Vokoun picked up his 300th win of his career. Good on Vokoun and he has been pretty much everything the Penguins could have wanted. He was the starter tonight thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury being at the hospital for the birth of his daughter and really nothing skipped a beat. The Sens got a goal but overall Vokoun was really good as he stopped 34-of-35 shots. He might play one more game this season but Dan Bylsma said that Fleury was going to start three of the last four before tonight so I wouldn't be shocked if MAF got the nods from here on out.

 -Speaking of Bylsma he earned his 200th career victory tonight, all with the Penguins.

 -Seems as if the Penguins wanted to work on the penalty kill tonight as they took a bunch of penalties. They ended up killing all but one of the Senators power plays and generally looked good.

 -Dustin Jeffrey got into the action tonight and scored a goal and assisted on a Jarome Iginla goal a few minutes later. Good to see DJ get in there and contribute.

-While Senators management was worried about CSI investigations and worried about punishing Cooke they might want to worry about making the playoffs. With a Jets win and the Ottawa loss they are only one point up on the Jets. Sure, they have a game in hand but would it be overly shocking to see the Senators miss the playoffs? It would actually be kinda funny. Right now they are the eighth seed and if things ended tonight (they don't) the Penguins would be playing them in the first round.

-Penguins play Buffalo in like six minutes.

Pirates Game 19 Recap - Phillies 3, Pirates 2

-I think the saying goes that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it really sucks watching it when you lose. That pretty much was the game tonight for the Pirates. Now, it wasn't all that terrible but up against a kid that was making his first start ever you hoped to get a little more out of the offense and as the game went on you just had that feeling that things just weren't going to go right and they didn't.

-A.J. Burnett didn't have his best stuff at all. He tried to gut it out but he put himself behind the eight ball a little too often and while he only gave up a pair of earned runs he was only able to go five innings and threw over 100 pitches. He also didn't have his best stuff as he walked three hitters and his worst inning probably came in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases with no outs and nearly got out of hit but hit Jimmy Rollins with two outs. Wasn't bad but was far from good. Didn't seem like he had a feel for his pitches and just seemed off. Hard to put your finger on it but if you watched the game I think you understand what I mean.

-Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez went deep today, so that was good. Both only hit solo home runs which kind of sucks but it is what it is.

-Travis Snider went hitless for the first time for the first time since April 10 when he was brought in as a pinch hitter. These things happen.

-The Pirates struck out 11 times tonight and didn't walk once. Not something that has been a huge problem for the Pirates but it was today. A few more base runners and things could have been a lot different.

-What sucked about this was that it was a winnable game and while you will lose games like that over the season it doesn't make it easy to see.

-Turn the page to tomorrow. Get a win.

Pirates Game 19 Preview - @ Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies - 7:05 p.m.
A.J. Burnett (1-2, 2.63) vs. Jonathan Pettibone (0-0. 0.00)


Lineups

Pirates (10-8)
1. Marte 7
2. Snider 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 3
5. Walker 4
6. Alvarez 5
7. Martin 2
8. Barmes 6
9. Burnett 1

Phillies (8-11)
1. Rollins 6
2. Mayberry 9
3. Utley 4
4. Howard 3
5. Young 5
6. Brown 7
7. Revere 8
8. Kratz 2
9. Pettibone 1


Notes:

-This will be Jonathan Pettibone's first career start.

Penguins Game 45 Preview - @ Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators

7:30 p.m., Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario

The Last Penguins Game:
April 20, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Boston 2 [Recap]

The Penguins really have nothing to play for and while they probably don't want to get into bad habits and go into the post season on a slide. Couple that with the fact that the Senators are acting like a huge group of whining babies and it would make a win all that much better tonight.

If you remember back to the game on February 13 it was Matt Cooke who drew the ire of pretty much every Senators fan in the world when he went for a check on star defenseman Erik Karlsson and his skate came down and cut the back of his Achilles nearly full severing it. [Here] was my update after that game and what I thought about it. Needless to say it was an accident but people in Ottawa thinks it's not.

There is actually a group in Ottawa that is ordering a Matt Cooke hate thing where they are going to make huge wanted posters and start chants and stuff. From all I can gather this group was made up to get people at Scotiabank Place more into the Sens. If you watched the game on Saturday night when the Leafs went to Ottawa you would have thought they were playing in Ottawa with how many Leafs fans were there. So, yea, they are going to whine all night at the game. Cool story.

I guess the big question is if Matt Cooke is going to have to "respond" by getting into a fight. I sure hope he doesn't. Cooke didn't do anything wrong and it was an accident. It was a costly accident and Sens hockey games are less interesting without Karlsson in them but this was nothing intentional. Fighting is largely dumb to begin with but this would be largely meaningless for Cooke to have to answer for something he shouldn't have to. If he doesn't he is going to be in the Sens heads all night and it will be awesome to watch. I hope Bylsma starts him tomorrow.

Other than that I don't know if it is going to be all that interesting. Obviously the Cooke storyline is going to be beat into the ground (as I have discussed it for a good bit) but outside of that the Sens are really struggling but will get into the playoffs and as you already know the Penguins are set in stone to be the top seed. It is all about getting healthy for the Penguins and they should not be getting into a ton of scrums all because the Sens have this misplaced hate because of an accident.


Probables

Pittsburgh (34-10-0)

Literally no idea. Kris Letang is out with food poisoning, Beau Bennett will miss with an upper body injury, and Marc-Andre Fleury will miss the game because of the birth of his child. Add that to missing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Paul Martin then the lines I am sure will be a jumbled mess.

Tomas Vokoun in net.


Ottawa (23-15-6) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Cory Conacher - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg
Colin Greening - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Erik Condra
Matt Kassian - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Defense
Patrick Wiercioch - Sergei Gonchar
Marc Methot - Chris Phillips
Jared Cowan - Eric Gryba

Goaltender
Craig Anderson


Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-0)

February 13, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Ottawa 2

January 27, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, Ottawa 1 (SO) The Stats