Game news and notes: Looking for two straight wins, Pirates hand ball to Nova

Posted on Sep 8 2016 - 5:45pm by Joey Cinello
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Like everyone else the past three games, Nova was unable to halt the losing skid. Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America

Like everyone else the past three games, Nova was unable to halt the losing skid. Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America

First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. EST at PNC Park
TV Side: Root Sports Pittsburgh
Radio Side: KDKA-FM (93.7 The Fan
Pitching Matchup: Dan Straily (11-7, 3.83 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (11-6, 4.34 ERA)

Potentially the most detrimental stretch for the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates concluded last night. In an attempt to try putting two wins in a row together and return to .500, Pittsburgh will send Ivan Nova to the rubber against Cincinnati Reds right-hander Dan Straily.

Pittsburgh is about to begin a stretch of 12 winnable games but some consider this set must-win — eight against the Reds and four against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Looking to commence this stint of games with a bang, hopes are high among Pirates brass because Nova is getting things started tonight.

Nova made his Pirates debut a little over a month ago. Nevertheless, that start was a win against these same Redlegs. Since then, Nova hasn’t done much other than being Pittsburgh only stable fixture within the rotation. An earned run average under three, fewer hits than innings pitched, .250 batting average against and a pair of walks set the tone for Nova coming into tonight.

“My job is to win ballgames,” Nova has said, and he’s done just that.

Perhaps leaving the New York Yankees and bandboxes of the American League East has helped Nova. Though one thing is for sure, attacking the zone early has been essential for the 29-year-old.

In a contract year, much like J.A. Happ, time will tell if Neal Huntington and company attempt to lock Nova up.

Dan Straily takes the ball for Cincinnati tonight.

Straily is a soft thrower that locates well, doesn’t give up many hits and limits bushel baskets full of walks. Despite his fastball living around 90 mph, his right arm might be the toughest the Pirates have to face over the next four games.

Every game counts from here on out. The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals are now tied for the second Wild Card spot, both a 1/2 game behind the San Francisco Giants atop the standings. Pittsburgh sits just 4 1/2 games behind New York and St. Louis for a playoff birth.

Starting Lineup

Reds Lineup Pirates Lineup
 Jose Peraza – CF Josh Harrison – 2B
 Zack Cozart – SS Josh Bell – RF 
 Joey Votto – 1B Andrew McCutcheon – CF
 Adam Duvall – LF Gregory Polanco – LF
 Brandon Phillips – 2B Jung Ho Kang –  3B
Scott Schebler – RF  David Freese – 1B 
 Eugenio Suarez – 3B Francisco Cervelli – C 
Tucker Barnhart – C  Jordy Mercer – SS
Dan Straily – P  Ivan Nova – P

Notes

  • Tony Watson reassured everyone last night he’s capable of closing games. For the most part, folks can put to bed rumors of him losing such duties.
  • Watch out for Brandon Phillips tonight. He owns a .444 average and two homers off of Nova.
  • Straily owns current Pirates hitters — only a .207 average against him.
  • Jung Ho Kang has set the world on fire his past three games since returning: six hits and two bombs.
  • After heating up in August, Andrew McCutchen has hit .231 the past 10 days.
  • Starling Marte continues to sit out with back spasms.
  • Josh Bell back in the lineup, making his first outfield start in MLB. He sat out in favor of David Freese and John Jaso recently.

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