Pregame: McDonald’s rebound


The other day, GM Neal Huntington admitted the Pirates might have made a mistake by not putting righty James McDonald on the disabled list to start the season. McDonald was slowed during spring training by a injury to his left side — neither he nor the Pirates ever fully explained what it was — and he clearly was not ready to begin the regular season. Over his first four starts, McDonald went 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA.

However, McDonald has pitched much better lately, starting with a 4-3 win May 2 at San Diego. In his past four starts, J-Mac is 2-1 and has cut his ERA almost in half. After allowing five runs in his first start at PNC Park, McDonald has gone 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his last two starts on the North Shore. Since being acquired from the Dodgers last July, McDonald is 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA at PNC Park.

»»» This is the first of four straight day games for the Pirates. They are 8-9 under natural light this season and are hitting .245 as a team. Neil Walker’s .354 average in day games ranks eighth-best in the NL.

»»» The Pirates have a .989 fielding percentage in May, which ranks fifth-best in the NL.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Braves (27-23) – 1. Jordan Schafer cf, 2. Alex Gonzalez ss, 3. Chipper Jones 3b, 4. Brian McCann c, 5. Eric Hinske lf, 6. Dan Uggla 2b, 7. Freddie Freeman 1b, 8. Joe Mather rf, 9. Mike Minor lhp (0-1, 10.38)

Pirates (22-25) – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Steve Pearce 3b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Neil Walker 2b, 5. Ryan Doumit c, 6. Matt Diaz rf, 7. Lyle Overbay 1b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. James McDonald rhp (3-3, 5.51)