Sunday, June 19, 2011

Game 71 Recap - Indians 5, Pirates 2 (11 innings)

The Pirates failed to stay above the .500 mark and were swept in Cleveland thanks to a 5-2 walk off loss to the Indians on Sunday afternoon. Despite getting 11 hits and a strong pitching performance from Jeff Karstens the Pirates could get nothing going after scoring their two lone runs in the first inning.

The Pirates were on the board early in the first inning with an RBI single by Neil Walker who drove home Xavier Paul after a one out triple into the right centerfield gap. The triple was the third of the season for Paul and the eight of the season for the Pirates as a team. Matt Diaz got lucky and drove in another run when he bounced into what should have been an inning ending double play but didn’t end up as such because of a good, strong, slide by Garrett Jones to force a throwing error.

That was it for the Pirates as the Indians tied the score up in their half of the second inning. Carlos Santana took the first pitch of the inning from Karstens and deposited it to deep right field, 413 feet to be exact, to cut the score in half. A few batters later Lou Marson grounded into a double play to score Cord Phelps to tie the game.

The game remained tied through the regulation nine innings and survived almost a two hour rain delay until the 11th inning when Phelps drove a Tim Wood pitch to deep right field to help the Indians walk off with a three run win.

Thoughts:

Another tough game for the offense. If you watched from the beginning of the game you thought this might be different as they were able to put some balls in play and force the issue on the Indians but as the first inning came to an end so did the Pirates offensive production. That is not to say that the Pirates didn’t have their chances to tack on. The Pirates got Ronny Cedeno on third base with a leadoff double and a past ball but the Pirates were unable to drive him home. Michael McKenry was up with two outs and the bases loaded late but couldn’t scratch a run across. Even Andrew McCutchen, who was white hot the past month and a half was unable to drive in runs when afforded the opportunity. Just another frustrating day for the offense, run production wise.

As I talked before Andrew McCutchen really had a tough series. He ended the day with his third straight hitless game and finished the series going 0-for-13 and dropping his average to .276. He just never really looked comfortable at the plate and struck out twice while only drawing a single walk. Now baseball is a game of ups and downs so I am really not worried about a three game hitless streak for a guy that pretty much hit .400 for the better part of a month and a half. He will snap out of it. That is what great players do.

Karstens was solid again today. Before, and during the early part of, this season I talked about how Karstens was a five inning guy that would usually fall apart around the 70 pitch mark. That Karstens seems to have gone away. Today he went seven strong innings, scattering five hits and striking out four in a 97 pitch effort. He lowered his ERA to 2.54 which will still rank in the top five of the National League when the stats come out. While he did give up a few hits in some innings he did a great job of making sure the game did not get out of hand and made sure that he gave the offense a chance to win it. Can’t ask for much more than that.

The lineup left a lot to be desired today. When your outfield consists of Matt Diaz, Paul and Jones from left to right, you know that it is probably a Sunday afternoon game. I am not entirely sure why Andrew McCutchen was the DH and not in the field but I don’t get paid to make that decision. Before tonight I talked about how tough it was for a team to win when the 5-9 hitters are as bad as what the Pirates trot out there, but tonight that wasn’t the case. Lyle Overbay, Brandon Wood, Ronny Cedeno, and Dusty Brown all had hits, with Wood and Cedeno having two each, to really lead the offense. It was a nice change of pace. Too bad it didn’t help the team get back on the winning track.

Something needs to happen with Lyle Overbay. He was given five million dollars to come over here and perform and he just hasn’t been living up to anything near that so far this season. He was highly touted as a huge upgrade on defense and while he has been pretty good he hasn’t been good enough to overcome his bad bat. Although he got a hit today his triple slash line is .228/.307/.353 which is not going to cut it. I am not sitting here saying that he should be a .300 hitter because he isn’t going to do that, but I expected around the .250-.260 mark with a little more power. It just isn’t there. There are some quotes out there that Garrett Jones might start to take starts away from Overbay if he does not start to improve so that might work. Between Diaz and Overbay there is a lot to be desired from a couple of pretty decent (in my opinion preseason) signings.

Can I ask why Pedro Ciriaco is still on the team? Is he still alive? Is his picture on a milk carton? I really don't think anyone has an idea. He has like one at bat since being called up a while ago but at some point you have to have a player on the bench that you feel comfortable with putting up to bat at some point. It isn't like this team can be picky when throwing pinch hitters/Sunday players up there.

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