PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 25: James McDonald #53 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the first game of a doubleheader at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
McDonald entered Wednesday afternoon without a win, despite posting a 3.45 in three starts. Oddly, McDonald had struck out only six batters in 15⅔ innings. Against the Rockies, though, he's recorded six strikeouts (along with two walks) in his first six innings.
In fact, McDonald finished off the top of the sixth by striking out Tyler Colvin.
He's thrown 80 pitches, just eight short of his season high. And he never threw more than 109 pitches in a game last season. So unless he's just a bit more economical in the next inning or two, nine innings might be a stretch.
Another problem: the Pirates haven't scored yet, as Colorado's Juan Nicasio is pitching a shutout of his own. Jose Tabata didn't help in the bottom of the sixth, leading off with a base hit but getting thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double.