The Pirates had a chance to get a win against a first place team. It all started well as Ronny Cedeno smacked a pitch over the left field fence for a 2-0 Pirates lead. Alas it has become sort of a known fact that when the Pirates get a big hit and look to take control of the game the opposing team strikes back and doubles up the Pirates the next half inning, plus one.
That was the case today at PNC Park as the next half inning after the Pirates took a 2-0 lead Brad Lincoln surrendored four runs and the Pirates couldn't bounce back and dropped their fourth straight game.
Lincoln went 6.1 innings and gave up six earned runs on eight hits. Lincoln was particularly bad in the third inning when he gave up five runs. The worst part of the inning was it was started by Padres pitcher Wade LeBlanc. When the pitcher is up you have to get them out. LeBlanc got two hits on the day. Same old story, just a different day for the Pirates.
The Pirates were retired in order the last four innings. Offense got eight hits, but never really put much together. Every time they got a leadoff runner on there was a double play of an infield pop up. Much like the previous three games they just couldn't get it done.
Jose Tabata collected two hits and raised his average to .281 on the season. The more I watch this kid play the more I am starting to believe. Not only is he getting better but it looks like he is learning at the same time. I mean this could be dumb luck that he is getting some hits, but even when he gets out he is hitting the ball hard. It is very good to see from one of the young players. He is also my favorite player so that is even better.
Ronny Cedeno is somone that you really can't figure out. He is so streaky that it makes him hard to rely on, but if he does catch fire he plays very, very well. He had two hits today, the home run and a double. He is pretty steady in the field to boot so its hard not to play him now. If Ronny was a little more consistent then he would be a great fit on this team. The problem is that he is so streaky that you can't really count on him. One night he will get three hits and the next night he will strike out four times.
Cutch was back in the lineup today. Got a hit. Not too much else going on. He will get Monday off, as will the rest of the team, so that will give his shoulder another day to rest. I was really against him playing today because of having tomorrow off, I wanted him to get a little more rest. This is not like the Pirates are fighting for anything so why risk bringing him back. Keep him out a little longer to make sure. It is all good because he didn't reinjure himeself so it is a non issue.
Afrer the game the Pirates made a few interesting moves when they sent down Brad Lincoln and designated Brendan Donnelly for assignment. Interesting moves on both fronts if you ask me. Donnelly has been in the league forever and as Tim points out in his post he has the right to refuse the assignment, which I would have to imagine he is going to do. Best bet is that the Pirates are not going to put him back on the roster so they will either release him or look for a trading partner.
You would think they would actively try to shop him, but who really is going to want him? His numbers are horrid and he has been having a lot of problems just throwing strikes. Not something you want out of a reliever.
I thought sending Lincoln down was a little strange. Sure he hasn't been good, but I don't think he has been terrible either. He hasn't even made 10 starts yet and for the most part in his starts it is one bad inning that gets him. Maybe they are some growing pains, but I figured you would keep him in the rotation for a little longer, because lets face it, who are the better options we have for the rotation? I guess it is a little frustrating because he was supposted to be the person who can hit the spots, and with a fastball that only gets around 91 or 92 you need to be able to hit spots. Throwing the ball in the middle of the zone does not constitute control. So far this season Lincoln is a -0.5 WAR and has a WHIP of over 1.5 so there is a lot of room for improvement.
An interesting stat is what hitters are doing against Lincoln as they go through the order. The first time through the order Brad is pretty good, holding hitters to a .242 average, while hitters are teeing off at a rate of .468 the second time through the order. What does this mean? It means that either the batters are learning really fast and watching pitchers or Lincoln is becoming very predictable and teams know that. Not a good stat to have and could explain the trouble he has in the third and fourth innings this year.
I guess you can say this could be a confidence move. A lot of what pitching is focus' on confidence and Lincoln must not have any. He has shown in AAA that he can dominate, he just needs to translate that more into the major leagues. Would I have sent him down? No, probably not. But then again that is why I am a joke blogger and not a MLB GM. There is no doubt he needs to pick it up, but things could always be worse, he could be Matt Morris, or a pitching form of Ryan Church.
Rob Biertempfel says he expects the Pirates to call up Wil Ledezma and Justin Thomas on Tuesday and then send Thomas back down when it comes to Lincolns turn in the rotation and bring up Daniel McCutchen.
I guess we will see what happens. The trade deadline is coming up so lets see what the Pirates do or don't do. What I do know is that whatever the Pirates do is going to be wrong in most people's eyes. Give it a chance. I am willing to.