Dodgers @ Pirates August 13, 2012: Harang vs Karstens

August 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Game Threads | Leave a comment

You can make an argument for Baltimore or Oakland or Washington, I suppose, but for my money, no team tops Pittsburgh in the “well, if it’s not going to be the Dodgers, I’m rooting for ________” sweepstakes this year. You don’t need me to tell you how awful this club has been for the last 20 years, and it’s not just about trying to make the playoffs – even finishing over .500 would be a monumental achievement. Not only that, they play in one of the most wonderful and under-appreciated ballparks in the game, in a great town that’s been through more than their share of tough times, with one of the brightest young stars in baseball roaming center field in Andrew McCutchen. You look at the long history of this club from the 19th century through Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, & Barry Bonds, and how can you not feel good about this team doing well simply as a baseball fan?

Dodgers
Pirates
LF
Victorino
LF
Marte
2B
M.Ellis
2B
Walker
CF
Kemp
CF
McCutchen
RF
Ethier
RF
Jones
SS
Ramirez
1B
Sanchez
1B
Loney
3B
Alvarez
3B
Kennedy
C
McKenry
C
A.Ellis
SS
Barmes
P
Harang
P
Karstens

It’s really a sign of how far the Pirates have come in such a short time this year that you might remember that the Dodgers swept them when Pittsburgh was in Los Angeles in early April, leading to a barrage of criticism that the hot Dodger start was mainly due to playing NL weaklings like Pittsburgh & San Diego. Four months later, the Pirates are 2.5 games up on the Dodgers and would be the first wild card if the season ended today.

Pittsburgh has four former Dodgers on the 40-man roster, though none is certain to be seen tonight. Joel Hanrahan, a second-rounder in the 2000 draft who was lost to Washington as a minor-league free agent following 2006, has evolved into one of the better closers in the game. (And if anyone decries the fact that the Dodgers “lost” him, point to evidence of your dismay six years ago. It doesn’t exist. No one cared at the time.) James McDonald, famously lost in the unbelievably bad Octavio Dotel deal of 2010, was to start in Thursday’s series finale but instead is being bumped to Friday against St. Louis. Rod Barajas, who might have been the starting Dodger catcher this year had his salary demands been lower, has largely lost his job to Michael McKenry after hitting .197/.272/.336. He is not better than A.J. Ellis. Finally, Bryan Morris, acquired way back in the Manny Ramirez deal of 2008, was briefly called up to the Pirates this year but spent just one day with the club without appearing in a game. He’s like the Michael Antonini of the Pirates, except that he might actually have a chance at a big-league career.

As for the Dodgers, Jerry Hairston has been placed on the disabled list thanks to his lingering hip injury, and Elian Herrera returns to take his place. Since being sent back to Triple-A just over a month ago, Herrera has been hitting .299/.345/.458 in 24 games, not exactly overwhelming considering the offensive environment there. Adam Kennedy steps in to make his first start since July 23. That pushes Luis Cruz to the bench alongside Herrera, the non-existent Juan Uribe, and the ineffective Juan Rivera, continuing a long tradition of absolutely atrocious Dodger benches. Meanwhile, A.J. Ellis and his .395 OBP continue to hit eighth, because that’s what catchers do.

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