Pre-game: Can Charlie do it?


Right-hander Charlie Morton had a fantastic spring, showing both the confidence and the stuff to be a successful member of the Pirates’ rotation. He led the team with a 2.63 ERA and was 2-0 in six appearances (five starts).

But that was spring.

Now he has to take that into the regular season, in a month that hasn’t been kind to him and against a team that’s done its fair share of damage as well.

Morton, 27, comes into tonight’s game with a 1-3 career record and 7.77 ERA in five starts against the Cardinals. He was 1-0 in two starts against the last year, the win coming on Sept. 22 at PNC Park, also against Kyle Lohse, who’s on the mound for the Cardinals tonight.

He’s also never won a game in April (0-5, 12.57 ERA), and was 0-8 with a 9.00 ERA on the road last year.

But manager Clint Hurdle said that he saw something different in Morton when he took the mound this spring from the guy he’d heard about and watched on tape. He just seemed more confident, and the numbers bore that out.

“I think he honestly self-evaluated (over the winter), he didn’t stick his head in the sand, he didn’t point fingers, he took responsibility and accountability for the breakdowns and the things that didn’t go well,” Hurdle said. “He found focus points to work on all winter long and came out in spring training, put them into play and stayed with it. The first outing where he had some turbulence, might have been Port Charlotte where he had five runs, most he gave up in spring training, he still pitched through traffic and never let an inning get away. I think that had been some of the issues he had in the past. Just a kid who feels like it’s his time to start pitching the way he’s capable of pitching.”

Here are the lineups for tonight:

For the Pirates: Tabata 7
Walker 4
McCutchen 8
Overbay 3
Alvarez 5
Doumit 2
Jones 9
Cedeno 6
Morton 1

And for the Cards:
Theriot 6
Rasmus 8
Pujols 3
Berkman 9
Craig 7
Freese 5
Molina 2
Schumaker 4
Lohse 1