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Game Thread #21: Pirates (8-12) at Brewers (9-11)

This is what it's come to, folks. Less than a week after beating the Pirates 20-0, the Brewers need to win today or the two teams will open play tomorrow tied in the standings.

On top of that, it's Bob Uecker's final game in the booth before undergoing heart surgery on Friday.

Current Series

3 game series vs Pirates @ Miller Park

Mon 04/26 WP: Yovani Gallardo (2 - 2)
LP: Zach Duke (2 - 2)
17 - 3 win
Tue 04/27 WP: Brendan Donnelly (2 - 0)
LP: Trevor Hoffman (1 - 2)
3 - 7 loss

Pittsburgh Pirates
@ Milwaukee Brewers

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010, 12:10 PM CDT
Miller Park

Paul Maholm vs Chris Narveson

Sunny. Winds blowing from right to left field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 60.

Wednesday's Frosty Mug

Complete Coverage >

Turn on the radio, then follow us after the jump for today's pitching matchup, lineup and more!

Chris Narveson (1-0, 7.20 in 2010, 2-0, 3.83 last season) will make his first start of the 2010 season in place of Jeff Suppan today. He's pitched nine outings in relief this season and hasn't fared well, allowing at least one earned run in each of his last five outings and walking six batters in his last 5.1 IP. One of those outings was Tuesday against the Pirates, when he allowed a run on two hits in an inning. It was the only run the Pirates scored in the series.

According to FanGraphs, Narveson threw an above average slider (+5.3 runs per 100) and change up (+2.10) last season, along with a league average curve. His fastball was worth roughly one run below average per 100 attempts. This season, all four pitches rate at league average or below. At least he'll have the element of surprise: No Pirate has faced him more than once, although Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge both doubled in their only meetings.

He'll face off against Paul Maholm (1-2, 4.74), making his fifth start of the season and his first against the Brewers. He took the loss against Houston his last time out, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out three. He leads the team with 14 strikeouts (in 24.2 innings), and at present he's the only Pirate to make multiple starts this season and hold opposing batters to less than 10 hits per nine innings.

Last season, Maholm's slider was very good (+2.94 runs per 100) and his fastball was not (-0.50). In 2010, it's been just the opposite - his fastball has been well above average (+1.07) and his slider is getting hammered (-5.99). His fastball velocity is also significantly down, from 89.4 over the course of his career to 87.9 this season. Four Brewers are familiar with him:

Corey Hart 39 .324 .385 .529 .914
Prince Fielder 36 .091 .167 .091 .258
Rickie Weeks 36 .233 .361 .267 .628
Ryan Braun 24 .381 .458 .619 1.077

Among pitchers he's faced at least 20 times, that .258 OPS is easily Fielder's worst:

Paul Maholm 36 .091 .167 .091 .258
Roy Oswalt 35 .147 .171 .265 .436
Tom Gorzelanny 28 .222 .250 .259 .509
Wandy Rodriguez 30 .208 .300 .250 .550
Kyle Lohse 21 .278 .381 .278 .659

Via Tyler Barnes, here's today's lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Gregg Zaun C
Corey Hart RF
Alcides Escobar SS
Chris Narveson P

And in the bullpen:

Trevor Hoffman pitched 1 inning (24 pitches) today.
Carlos Villanueva pitched 1 inning (20 pitches) Monday
Jeff Suppan pitched 1 inning (10 pitches) Monday.
Manny Parra pitched 1 inning (7 pitches) Monday.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched 1 inning (23 pitches) Sunday.
Claudio Vargas pitched 1.1 innings (15 pitches) Sunday.
Todd Coffey pitched 1 inning (14 pitches) Sunday.

Enjoy the game!