A stretch of divisional games spanning from March 31 to April 27 has finally ended, but the Pittsburgh Pirates' schedule doesn't get any easier as they face the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays for five games starting Tuesday.
The Pirates will make their first visit to Camden Yards since 2011, as 2014 marks the 35th anniversary of Pittsburgh's 1979 World Series championship over the Orioles.
After the brief two-game set in Baltimore, the Pirates return home to face the Toronto Blue Jays, who have not visited Pittsburgh since 2008. The series will mark just the second time the Blue Jays have ever come to the Steel City.
With the Pirates pitching staff on the mend, the Bucs will look to post a winning week for the first time since the start of the regular season.
For starters, the Orioles will be missing first baseman Chris Davis, who lead the American League in home runs last year. Even so, the Orioles still have a potent lineup with the likes of Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Nelson Cruz, who is on a tear to start the year.
Morton has only faced Orioles batters a total of 24 times, but has been hit well in those appearances. Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Hardy all hit Morton well when the teams last played. Only Chris Stewart and Travis Snider have faced Tillman, and only Stewart has collected a hit off the righty.
While only Delmon Young has ever faced Pirates right-hander Brandon Cumpton, as he has one double in three at-bats, the Bucs are quite familiar with Orioles' righty Bud Norris.
The former Houston Astro has good numbers against the Pirates, posting a .252/.306/.698 triple slash lines in 125 plate appearances against Pittsburgh. The only Pirates' player with good numbers against Norris is Neil Walker, who is 9-for-21 with five walks, a double and a home run. Walker's numbers translate to a .429/.538/1.158 slash line.
Although Cole has been in the Major Leagues less than a year, and has yet to face Toronto, he has faced a pair of Blue Jays hitters. Dioner Navarro and Juan Francisco are a combined 3-for-12 off Cole.
On the flip side, some Pirates have limited experience against Morrow, with Clint Barmes being the only one to get a hit, as he is 1-for-7.
Liriano has faced many of the Blue Jays' hitters from his time in the American League. Unfortunately for the Bucs, Toronto has good numbers against the Dominican lefty. In 44 plate appearances, the Blue Jays own a .341/.386/.996 slash line against Liriano. Edwin Encarnacion is 2-for-4 with two home runs, and Jose Bautista is 3-for-9 with a double and two walks.
Pittsburgh hitters have extensive experience against Dickey from his time with New York. But this experience has not translated to any success at the plate, as the Pirates own a .236/.314/.663 slash line. Gaby Sanchez is 8-for-21 with two walks, five doubles, a home run and seven RBI. Josh Harrison is 6-for-14 with a double, a triple and a walk.
McGowan has been an oft-injured pitcher, and has yet to face the Pirates as a result.
Volquez has faced Toronto batters a total of 55 times since he debuted back in 2005. He owns a .327/.389/.899 triple slash against the Blue Jays. Encarnacion, a former Cincinnati Red himself, has hit a homer off of Volquez. The best numbers belong to Jose Reyes, who is 5-for-6 against Volquez with a triple and a walk.
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