Jeff Locke and Kyle Lohse at 7:05. Beat the Brewers once. That's a place to start, right?no comments
I guess the Pirates owed the universe one after Jonathan Sanchez beat Kris Medlen and Jeanmar Gomez beat Matt Harvey. Marco Estrada's biggest problem this year has been giving up home runs. The Pirates didn't hit any tonight.
Gah. The Pirates being unable to beat the Brewers is the most annoying thing in sports.no comments
After their short trip to New York, the Pirates have seven straight home games against the Brewers and Astros. The Brewers have been awful since we saw them last, dropping nine of their last ten games (counting the loss the Pirates dealt them on their way out of Miller Park). The Astros are a hilariously terrible bumbling excuse of a baseball team. The Pirates should win at least five of these seven games, if not more.
AJ Burnett takes the mound tonight against Marco Estrada. AJ Burnett leads the NL in strikeouts. Marco Estrada leads the NL in homers allowed. The implication here is clear, I think. The first pitch is at 7:05.no comments
Neil Walker is back from the disabled list today, just in time for the Pirates' seven-game homestand against the Brewers and Astros. As a result, Jordy Mercer will be demoted back to Indianapolis to make room for Walker. John McDonald will remain on the roster.
This is what John McDonald has done in 34 plate appearances as a Pirate: two hits (one double), three walks, one HBP.
This is what Jordy Mercer has done in 32 plate appearances as a Pirate: eight hits (two doubles, three home runs), one walk.
The Pirates currently have both a second baseman and a third baseman that can't really hit left-handed pitching at all, plus they have a slick fielding shortstop that cannot hit at all on a team with a pitching staff that is third in the National League in strikeouts. Jordy Mercer is a useful player for them. John McDonald is a husk of a baseball player. His only real function is to allow Clint Hurdle to use a pinch-hitter or double switch for Clint Barmes late in games, but the end result of that is that occasionally, John McDonald comes to bat in a big situation. He's the most ridiculously niche luxury player I can think of on a team that can't really afford to waste roster spots.
Instead of Mercer playing once or twice a week against lefties and once or twice a week in place of Barmes, Brandon Inge will continue to play second and/or third against lefties and McDonald will start once a week instead of Barmes. The Pirates are substantially worse using their players like this. It's ridiculous. There's no excuse for it.no comments
Last week, the Baseball Hall of Fame opened up their "Diamond Mines" online exhibit, letting you dive into a huge treasure trove of scouting reports on players throughout history. The whole thing is a lot of fun and you can waste hours upon hours searching for reports on your favorite players. I'm going to recommend that you start here, with 59 scouting reports filed by Dave Littlefield in 1992, just after he started with the Expos.
Read about Derek Jeter's "hi butt" and Johnny Damon's "strong face!" Do you think that when Littlefield said Ron Villone was going to be a #2 starter, he had the 2002 Pirates (his first full year as general manager!) in mind?
This is certainly unfair to Littlefield. I don't really mind.no comments
Well, that was wild.
There were a lot of ways that the Pirates could've lost this Sunday afternoon game against the Mets. They had a chance to really deliver a knockout punch to Matt Harvey in the second when Clint Barmes lead off the inning with his second homer (his first homer was against Stephen Strasburg, go figure) and then they loaded the bases up with just one out. All they got from that was one more run at a 2-1 lead that looked awfully shaky when Jeanmar Gomez had to leave the game after five innings due to tightness in his leg after being hit by a groundball in the first inning.
Justin Wilson's wildness on the mound lead the Mets to tie the game up in the seventh, but then the Pirates got the run back in the eighth with a Pedro Alvarez RBI single (Alvarez also had a double off of Harvey and has now surpassed the Mendoza line!). That one run lead felt significantly different with Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli looming, but for the first time all year Melancon got himself into a bit of trouble with the game on the line. He served up a double to Daniel Murphy, who advanced to third on a passed ball by Mike McKenry (who had an awful game behind the plate) with one out. After the Pirates walked David Wright semi-intentionally, Melancon struck out Ike Davis with a nasty curveball to get the second out. Lucas Duda then smoked a ground ball down the first base line that popped up straight off of the bag. Somehow, though, it turned just enough towards second base that Brandon Inge was there waiting for it and he grabbed the ball and threw it to Melancon covering first for the third out. There's nothing wrong with being lucky. The ninth inning with Jason Grilli went much more smoothly; Grilli retired the side with two strikeouts on eight pitches.
The win puts the Pirates at 21-16, which means that they're back to the point they were after taking the first game from the Nationals last Friday. These three straight wins against the Mets wipe out that ugly little 1-4 skid that they went on after that game. 21-16 also keeps them within 2 1/2 games of the Cardinals (once they finish losing to the Rockies this afternoon) and a half game behind the Reds. Last year the Pirates used a pretty weak schedule in May and June to overcome a bad start and launch them into contention. This year they had a good start against a tough schedule, so it's quite nice to see them rack up some wins against a lesser team. The ice cold Brewers come into PNC Park next, followed by a visit from our old friends from Houston. It's time for the Bucs to heat up and rack up some wins. This series was a very good start.no comments
It's nice that the Pirates have cruised to two easy wins in the middle of this series against the Mets, because their backs are certainly up against the wall today. Matt Harvey is on the mound for the Mets against Jeanmar Gomez. Harvey has been incredible this season, with a 1.28 ERA, 58 strikeouts, and just 12 walks in 49 1/3 innings spread over seven starts. In his last outing, he faced 28 hitters in nine complete innings, striking out 12 and only allowing one hit. The Mets have won six of his seven starts. On the other hand, Gomez made a really nice start his last time out against the Mariners and the Mets offense is struggling right now, scoring four runs or fewer in their last six games. The best the Pirates can probably hope for is that Gomez keeps the Pirates close and that they somehow rack up a big pitch count against Harvey (you know, by taking five or six pitches to strike out instead of just three), chasing him after maybe six innings.
First pitch today is at 1:10. When you see the pink bats on the field, remember to call your mom.no comments
The Francisco Liriano Saga has been a long and strange one without Liriano ever even throwing a pitch for the Pirates. Today, he'll finally make his first start for the Bucs. Even if Liriano hadn't missed the season's first six weeks recovering from a broken humerus in his right (non-throwing) arm suffered under weird circumstances over Christmas, I'd tell you that I didn't know what to expect from Liriano. Liriano is an undoubtedly talented guy, but arm problems and control problems have left him with a pretty spotted career. Certainly, he's as talented as any pitcher on the Pirate staff right now and he's capable of going out and taking over a game by sheer force of talent. Whether he falls closer to Erik Bedard or AJ Burnett on the scale of "talented but frustrating Pirate pitchers" scale, well, we'll see. His rehab stint went well and I think that the coaching staff can work with his skillset, but still, this is a pretty big unknown and a pretty important variable for the 2013 Pirates. Hold your breath, cross your fingers, etc.
Tony Sanchez is also in New York in case Russell Martin has to go on the disabled list with his stiff neck. He's off to a good start in Triple-A this year (.269/.380/.449 in 25 games) and I still feel like he can be a serviceable big league catcher, despite all of his minor league struggles. It's not certain that he'll be activated this weekend, but at least this indicates that the Pirates think that he's ready to play at the big league level, if necessary.
In any case, Liriano takes the mound today against Jon Niese and the Pirates need a win with Matt Harvey looming in the series finale on Sunday. Niese is not off to a particularly great start this year, with a 4.66 ERA and nearly as many walks (19) as strikeouts (20) in his 36 2/3 innings. With Liriano representing such a big question mark on the mound, it'd be nice to ding Niese for some runs. First pitch today is at 1:10.no comments
Before the game? When I said that the Pirates needed to play better? Pretty much what I had in mind was a solid Wandy Rodriguez start and piling some runs on Shaun Marcum. And hey! Here we are!no comments