Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bucs to begin long trip with series in San Diego

The Pirates' rotation will be back at full strength Tuesday night at Petco Park. After skipping a start due to a tight right hamstring, left-hander Francisco Liriano will get back on the mound as the Bucs open a three-game series vs. Colin Rea and the Padres.
The Pirates hope having Liriano back in the fold will help stabilize their rotation and especially their bullpen, which had to work overtime over the last week and struggled as a result.
"Having Francisco back in play is definitely an opportunity for us to leverage a strength," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'd like to believe the continuity of the starts will give us more continuity in the back end of the bullpen and through the other guys out there, so we can settle guys down and find some routine and roles that we want to build upon."
The Padres will counter with right-hander Rea, who will be making his first career start against the Pirates. Rea breezed through seven strong innings against the Phillies on 94 pitches in his last outing, a stark contrast to when he needed 90 pitches to battle through 3 1/3 innings in his season debut.
Things to know about this game
• This game starts a 16-day stretch in which the Pirates will play 16 games before their next scheduled off-day on May 5. Including Monday, Pittsburgh had three off-days built into the first two weeks of its regular-season schedule. This 10-game road trip will take the Bucs through San Diego, Arizona and Colorado.
• Padres shortstop Alexei Ramirez and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. have hit well against Liriano. Ramirez is hitting .419 (13-for-31) and Upton is 8-for-24 against the veteran left-hander. Liriano has dominated Matt Kemp (1-for-14, five strikeouts) and Derek Norris (1-for-13, six strikeouts), however.
• Expect to see left fielder Starling Marte back in the Pirates' lineup Tuesday. Taking a cautious approach, the Bucs held Marte out of Sunday's starting lineup due to concerns about his right hand, which was hit by a pitch Saturday night.

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