08/15/10 1:40 PM EST
Pittsburgh is somewhat mysterious to Marlins
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
No, the Steel City hasn't been kind to the Marlins, who have lost four straight at PNC Park and are 6-16 since 2003 in Pittsburgh. But Florida will get another shot to turn it around beginning Monday, when the club opens a four-game series against the Bucs.
The time might be right for the Marlins to reverse their skid in Pittsburgh as the Pirates have lost seven straight games, including a sweep by the suddenly hot Astros. So the Bucs will be hoping that a return to home cooking helps end their own slide.
The Marlins will pin their hopes on Chris Volstad, who has never pitched at PNC Park. Volstad has won of two of his past three decisions, and will be working on pitch efficiency as he tries to finish six innings for the first time in three starts.
Control has been an issue in the past for Volstad, but he was commanding his pitches well in his last victory against the Nationals. The right-hander walked only one batter, ending a spell of four straight outings with three walks.
He'll oppose a young pitcher in Pirates right-hander James McDonald, who has had similar pitch efficiency issues in his short career. MacDonald hasn't shown a tendency to walk as many batters as Volstad, but rather has struggled with putting away hitters once they're in the hole.
McDonald allowed four runs in a 4 2/3-innings outing -- cut short by a high pitch count -- against the Rockies his last time out. Even though it was just the third start of his Major League career, McDonald was able to see clearly where he went off track.
"I had good stuff," McDonald said. "I felt like my command was a little bad sometimes when I got ahead of the hitter. I've got to be more aggressive putting them away early in the counts.
Marlins: Runners stranded in scoring position
The Marlins' offense had been chugging along fine until it ran into the Reds this past weekend, when Florida struggled to score baserunners in a major way. In fact, the Marlins didn't get a single hit with runners in scoring position in the entire series. An 0-for-9 effort on Sunday completed an 0-for-27 weekend with runners in scoring position. Before Sunday's game, manager Edwin Rodriguez said he didn't want to address it with the players unless the problem persists. "I don't want to make a big issue about that since we're coming off a decent series in Washington," he said. "If it stays the same or we're getting worse, we're going to have to sit down and talk."
Pirates: Cedeno's status for series is unclear
Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno was out of the lineup for a fourth consecutive game on Sunday with left shoulder pain. His status for the series against the Marlins wasn't definitive. Although he's not expected to need a stint on the disabled list, the Pirates are open to that possibility if he doesn't start to improve soon. "We're still optimistic," general manager Neal Huntington said. "But if we're not seeing the progress we're going to see, [the DL] could be an option."
Both teams are coming off sweeps in their previous series: the Marlins' came at the hands of the Reds, while the Astros dispatched the Pirates. ... At 10-10, the Marlins' record against the National League Central is their weakest mark against any of the league's three divisions. ... Rodriguez said Sunday that Hanley Ramirez is in the leadoff spot for the remainder of the season and won't be moved barring any unforeseen circumstances.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.