It’s been close to 43 years since the Pittsburgh Pirates were
shut out in three consecutive games. Chris Volstad is in position
to make it happen in 2011 if he can fix his delivery issues.
The Florida Marlins have posted 6-0 shutouts in the first two
games of this series, and Volstad will take the mound in Thursday
Josh Johnson allowed two hits in seven innings and struck out
nine for Florida (10-6) on Tuesday before Ricky Nolasco yielded
four hits and struck out eight in seven Wednesday. Jose Tabata and
Neil Walker are both 0 for 7 in the series, and Pedro Alvarez is 0
for 5 to drop his average to .177.
The Pirates (8-10) have struck out 22 times in the series,
bringing their major-league worst total to 161. The Marlins have
done all their scoring by the fourth inning both nights.
“We haven’t scored a run in 18 innings and they’ve gotten on top
of us early in both games,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
“Twenty-two punchouts in 18 innings means they’re playing pitch and
Making matters worse for Pittsburgh is that center fielder
Andrew McCutchen has been allowed to leave the club to tend to an
undisclosed personal matter. Tabata slid over from left to center
and took his leadoff spot Wednesday.
The Pirates were last blanked in three straight games Aug.
Volstad (0-1, 5.59 ERA) is in search of his first win after
going 6-0 with a 3.75 ERA in his final eight outings last year. He
lasted 4 2-3 innings and gave up five runs in a 5-0 loss at Atlanta
on April 12, and the Marlins pushed his next outing back due to a
rainout in Philadelphia while pitching coach Randy St. Claire
worked with the starter’s delivery.
“There are some issues mechanically that he’s doing,” St. Claire
told the Marlins’ official website. “We watched some video. We’ll
attack them on the side.”
The 6-foot-8 right-hander is 1-2 with a 7.07 ERA in three career
starts against the Pirates.
Florida will look to use its speed to get off to another fast
start. Chris Coghlan drove in three runs Wednesday, two on a
second-inning infield single. The Marlins have been using other
ways to score with an NL-low eight homers.
“We’ve been playing very aggressively on the basepaths,”
manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “And tonight was a good example.
We’re not showing the power that we used to show in previous years,
but we’re compensating that with aggressive baserunning.”
Emilio Bonifacio is 5 for 8 in the series and John Buck 4 for 8
with three runs scored. The bottom of the order has also received
productive at-bats from the pitcher’s slot, with Johnson driving in
two runs and Nolasco scoring after drawing a walk.
James McDonald (0-1, 7.47) will start for Pittsburgh after
allowing seven runs over 4 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 11-2 loss at
Cincinnati. The right-hander has failed to last through the fifth
in two of three outings.
McDonald was outstanding in his lone career start against the
Marlins on Aug. 16, giving up one run over seven innings in a 7-1
Florida hasn’t swept a three-game series from Pittsburgh since
Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2002.