Sunday, July 31, 2011

Game 106 Recap - Phillies 6, Pirates 5 (10 innings)

You know I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and this morning I had to get up and do laundry. There aren’t many things that I dislike more than doing laundry, but it is a necessary evil. What made it worse is that today I did it all, the towels, the bed sheets and all and it sucked. That is kinda a precursor as to what the game was going to be like today for the Pirates, the game was going to suck. It did.

Raul Ibanez drove in four runs, including the game winner for the Phils as they beat the Pirates in extra innings. Not only did we go into extra innings again but the best reliever on the team, Joel Hanrahan, didn’t touch the ball in crunch time. I have defended this before, but it is really starting to get old. The Pirates now fall 4.5 games back of first place heading into August and it will be the biggest month of games that they have played since like 1997 or some junk.

What this series did was show that the Pirates still have a good bit of work to do in order to become a true contender. They went from the worst team in the league to a team that is in the hunt for the NL Central in the beginning of August but I still don’t think they are true contenders. They went out and got Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick today so that will help the offense but is that really enough? Probably not. It does make the team better but until Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Ryan Doumit, Ronny Cedeno, etc come back from being on the DL it is still going to be tough.

The Pirates get seven games at home against the Cubs and Padres before they start a really tough NL Central slate with the Cardinals and Brewers so it will be so important to play well and get some big wins there.

Pirates Get Ludwick from Padres

The Pirates made another roster move today, acquiring outfielder Ryan Ludwick from the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later. Ludwick is no longer the player he was when he was with his last NL Central team, the Cardinals, but can certainly upgrade the current outfield situation with Garrett Jones/Matt Diaz/Xavier Paul.

This season for the Padres Ludwick is hitting .228/.301/.358 which is well blow his career averages although when you play at Petco Park your numbers are going to take a hit. For his career he is a .262/.331/.461 hitter with 115 home runs in eight major league seasons. His most successful season came while he was in St. Louis back from 2007-2009 when he hit 73 home runs in his three seasons.

Just like the Derrek Lee trade this isn’t going to make the Pirates a serious contender, but it is going to help in the short term to take over for some really bad outfield play in the corner spots and then when Jose Tabata and Alex Presley get healthy he will be a nice bench/platoon option to give the Pirates some more options. The move was made to make the team better and I think that it did that. It isn’t a flashy move or a player like Hunter Pence or Carlos Beltran that can come in and put up huge numbers but it is a move that makes the team better.

Overall a solid move for Neal Huntington to make. He wasn’t going to be able to go out and get one of the big guns because this was a sellers market, in a big way. Coming into the deadline I think most people would have been happy with making the team better. As we look at the roster that is going to go on the field against the Cubs there is a much better chance of getting a win than what the Pirates trotted out there against the Braves and Phillies.

Steelers Sign William Gay and Daniel Sepulveda

Today the Steelers came to terms with two more free agents who was on the team last year in defensive back William Gay and punter Daniel Sepulveda.

There are no terms for either of the deals.

Gay finished last season with 48 tackles and two sacks, mainly playing out of the nickle corner back role, which he did pretty well in. A lot of people are really going to bash Will Gay and ask why the Steelers brought him back, but I actually like the move from their standpoint. Last season Gay saw his responsibilities shifted after he was terrible in 2009 as a starting corner back. When the Steelers brought back Bryant McFadden that allowed Gay to take over the nickle position and he excelled. A lot of the good things were overlooked last year because because of his 2009 production (or lack there of) but Gay made some really big plays last year.

Overall Gay was part of a Steelers secondary that held opponents to a league low 5.78 yards per attempt and 35 plays of 20 yards or more. The Steelers also finished second in the league with 15 touchdowns allowed with only the Saints giving up fewer passing touchdowns (13).

Sepulveda was more of a surprise to be back as most had him pegged as leaving the team earlier in the week. Last season was the second time that Sepulveda has missed an entire season with an ACL tear. The Steelers drafted the punter in the fourth round of the 2007 draft.

In his last full season, in 2009, he ranked 22nd out of the 33 qualifying punters with a 42.7 yard per kick average and a 37.1 yard net average. He did finish seventh in the league with 29 punts inside the 20 yard line which is pretty important, especially when you have such a great defense. Although I am a big supporter of Sepulveda it is hard to argue that he has been a pretty average punter, but I still think this is a good sign. I can honestly not remember the last time he shanked a punt so the consistency is there and you don't have to worry about him hitting a 10 yard punt in a crucial situation. The only downside is that he gets hurt. As I said before he has had two blown ACL's since being with the Steelers and who knows is he will stay healthy for a full year.

Sepulveda will compete with Jeremy Kapinos who was signed last season to fill in for Sepulveda when he went down.

Pirates Game Day 106 Live Blog - @ Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies 6, Pirates 5 (10 innings)

Win - Antonio Bastardo(4-0)

Loss - Tony Watson (0-2)

[Box Score]

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay

Pirates Get Derrek Lee

Late last night the Pirates finally got on the board and acquired a bat when they traded minor leaguer Aaron Baker to the Baltimore Orioles for first baseman Derrek Lee.

This season Lee is hitting for .246/.302/.404 line in 85 games for Baltimore. However, since July 17th Lee has been hitting much better for a .294/.331/.538 clip that includes a vast majority of his home runs (eight of his 12).

A few days ago it was leaked that the Pirates were looking into Lee as a possibility and I immediately dismissed it because I didn’t want to see him in a Pirates uniform. Over the past couple days there have been some nice posts on Lee from some fellow Pirates bloggers about Lee’s second half resurgence and now it seems like a decent acquisition. Obviously Lee is going to be a massive upgrade over Lyle Overbay, so in that regard I guess we can say that the trade is a huge win. Typically Lee is a second half player so if he can continue putting up the kind of numbers he has since July 17th then this is going to be a really nice pickup for the Bucs.

For the rest of the season ZiPS has Lee hitting for a .265/.338/.432 line with a .338 wOBA in around 206 plate appearances. They also project him to hit around seven home runs and score 26 runs so that is more than acceptable in my eyes to get him for a minor leaguer that might not have amounted to much in Baker.

Lee will also help the Pirates defensively as he will provide an upgrade over Overbay in that aspect also. Coming into the season Overbay was considered to be a very good defensive first baseman, but we just haven’t seen that this season so far. Lee has been steady through his entire career defensively and while he is defiantly not in his prime he should still be able to pick a few more balls than Overbay was able to do this season.

To make things perfectly clear, getting Lee doesn’t make this Pirates team a playoff contender. I think one thing most fans should take from this series with the Phillies it’s that while the Pirates have had a really unbelievable year so far they are still a good bit away from being a true contender in the National League. This move makes the Pirates better on the field, which is a huge help, so it should be interesting to see how things go from here. There is still some time left before the deadline so Neal Huntington and company could still make some moves but for right now I think this is a decent upgrade at the first base position.

Overall a good move. I don’t expect Lee to come in and play over his head, but some stability at the first base position will be a welcome to sign to almost all Pirates fans.

I also would like to note that you spell his first name Derrek.

Game 105 Recap - Phillies 7, Pirates 4

I wasn’t home for the final innings of the game and was back pretty late so if you were looking for the recap right after the game last night I apologize, but this was another case of the Pirates coming up short. The Bucs did enough to stick around in the game but never really kept the momentum and dropped the second game in a row to the Phillies 7-4.

The Pirates were able to scratch across four runs off Cliff Lee (who threw 121 pitches!) and also got eight hits. Every time the Pirates mounted a comeback though the Phillies answered right back. The Pirates cut the Phillies lead to 3-2 with a Pedro Alvarez home run in the fourth inning but then the Phils scored two runs the next half inning. The Bucs then scored two runs in the eighth inning only to give up a run to the Phillies in their half of the eighth. Overall a much better effort than the previous night, but still not good enough.

The Phillies are just a stacked lineup and although James McDonald had some of his good stuff tonight he just made a couple of mistakes that killed the Pirates. JMac only went five innings and gave up five earned and 10 hits. The first two innings it looked as if we were going to be able to get JMac deep in the game but the third and fourth innings provided some problems and it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.

The defense still wasn’t great and outfield defense continues to be a sore spot as the outfield accounted for another error in the game and a few others that probably could have been considered errors. When you have been struggling offensively as the Pirates have there is no room to give other teams free base runners and runs and that is exactly what the Pirates did, again.

The hitters weren’t great again, striking out 15 times on the night. Michael McKenry had a forgettable game with four strikeouts in four at bats while every starter except Neil Walker struck out at least once. Meh.

Walker continues to play well and had three hits last night. Andrew McCutchen still continues to struggle with a 0-for-3 night with two strikeouts so hopefully that doesn’t last. If McCutchen can start to heat up and join Neil Walker on the hit parade then the offense will be able to put up some runs. If those two hit well, at the same time, with [hopeful] returns from Alex Presley and Jose Tabata and this could be a really fun top of the lineup to watch down the stretch.

The Pirates look to bounce back in the series finale. Winning one of three wouldn’t be horrible and would give them a 6-7 record against a really tough portion of their schedule that included the Reds, Cardinals, Braves and Phillies.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pirates Game Day 105 Live Blog - @ Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies 7, Pirates 4

Win - Cliff Lee (10-7)

Loss - James McDonals (7-5)

Save - Ryan Madson (18)

[Box Score]

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay

Friday, July 29, 2011

Game 104 Recap - Phillies 10, Pirates 3

Tonight was as bad as it gets if you are a Pirates fan. The Pirates got run out of the building in the first two innings and the offense could only muster four hits as they dropped a 10-3 decision.

You knew it was bad when Charlie Morton walked Jimmy Rollins on four pitches. Things looked up when Morton picked off Rollins when he was trying to steal. In the back of my mind I was trying to say that things might be alright and the Pirates might be able to hang around. I was dead wrong. After the initial out the Phillies scored three runs on five hits in the first and then tacked on five runs via three hits and an error in the second.

Charlie wasn’t good, but neither was the defense. Neil Walker botched an easy double play ball in the second and Garrett Jones needed a map out in right field and I am still not sure that would have helped him at all. Xavier Paul did his part with horrid base running and some poor outfield play as he tried to out suck Jones.

Pedro Ciriaco platted his second and third career runs in the eighth inning with his first hit of the year. Ciriaco just called up today when Chris Leroux went on the DL and to be honest I think this was the first time we have seen him in the game in like three months. That might not seem bad since he just got called up but he was on the 25 man for like two and a half of those three months.

There really isn’t anything else to say about this game. I could go on for like 10,000 words about what was wrong with this game but that would be pointless and not worth it. At worst the Pirates are going to be 2.5 games back after tonight and they have James McDonald and Jeff Karstens going in the next two nights who happen to be their two best pitchers of the second half. All that needs to be said is that Jones and Paul need to not be on the field anymore. I have stuck up for Jones for a while but his outfield play has been atrocious at best and Xavier Paul is a pinch runner or defensive replacement guy at best.

Frustrating game but like I said before it is only one game out of 162. To think this team wouldn’t get blow out once the rest of the season would be foolish, especially with how bad their offense has been lately. Still sucks.

Not really sure what is going on with Charlie Morton. He has been horrendously bad against lefties this year and Philly trotted out seven of them tonight. He was getting rocked and it wasn’t pretty. After a good start to the year he had a really tough June and then a pretty good July so far until tonight. I have no idea what his deal is but it seems that his struggle are largely against lefties and unless he can figure out a way to pitch them it might be tough going.

All that being said I am not ready to cut Morton out of the rotation. He has been good this year and not every team is going to be able to roll the quality lefties out against him like the Phillies are able to do. It is concerning but I don’t think we are at the total breaking point yet. Hopefully he can pull things together. His last two starts were good except for the fact he didn’t reach the sixth inning, but you’ll have that. In the last two starts before this he only have up three earned runs and gave up nine combined hits in 10.1 innings. The bad part is the walks (seven combined in the last two starts before tonight) but if he can figure that out he will be fine. While tonight sucks let’s not get all bent out of shape.

Another one tomorrow. Get your mind right.

Pirates Game Day 104 Live Blog - @ Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia 10, Pittsburgh 3

Win - Roy Halladay (13-4)

Loss - Charlie Morton (8-6)

[Box Score]

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Game 103 Recap - Pirates 5, Braves 2

With all that happened during this series, all the ups and downs and failed attempts to score runs the Pirates were able to split a four game series with the Braves. This Braves team is leading the NL Wild Card race and would be leading almost any other division in baseball if they were not paired with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Most called this road trip a true test of what the Pirates were all about and if this is any indication then this team truly is in it for the rest of the season. The Pirates outscored the Braves 12-9 in the series and went against four very good pitchers in doing so. The only two losses the Pirates suffered was a 19-inning loss and another 10 inning loss. Pretty good if you ask me. Before the series if I said that we could win two of those games against Hudson/Hanson/Jurrjens/Lowe you would have taken that 100% of the time. Pretty exciting.

The Pirates only collected nine hits but they made these ones count.

The Braves cracked the scoreboard first in the bottom of the first inning with an Eric Hinske double to score Nate McLouth, who led off with a walk, and you really didn’t have a good feeling about it with how bad the Pirates offense has been.

The Bucs got right on the board. Kevin Correia helped his own cause with a single to left field to score Lyle Overbay in the top of the second inning. Over the past month Correia has three RBI and Overbay has none, or something like that. Any way you slice it Correia has more and that is not good when you are talking about your starting first baseman.

The Pirates took the lead for good in the fifth inning. Andrew McCutchen doubled home Xavier Paul followed by Pedro Alvarez grounding out to score Garrett Jones. Life is good, the Pirates scored more than two runs.

The Phillies scored another run on a “hit” (which was easily an error but the hometown scorer ruled it a hit because it was Dan Uggla and it extended his hitting streak to 19 games. What a joke.).

McCutchen then went yard in the top of the ninth inning for his third hit of the game to also score Steve Pearce, who walked.

Hanrahan. Game.


-Correia had a really nice start tonight. He battled through a 47 minute rain delay and got through 6.1 innings in 89 pitches. For many of Correia’s previous starts he has been really bad and horribly hittable but he was good tonight and gave the Pirates a solid start. Although he gave up nine hits he was aided by a few double plays. Correia only walked one batter, the first batter he faced I believe, and struck out three.

-Andrew McCutchen hopefully is coming out of his slump that he has been in since the All-Star break. He was moved to the three spot tonight and responded with a 3-for-5 day and three RBI to raise his average back up to .279. His home run was an absolute missal and even one of his outs was a sharp hit line drive right to the right fielder. Nice day at the plate.

-Joe Beimel has been money lately. Today he was asked to come in the seventh inning and he worked 1.1 innings against the top of the Braves order and only gave up one hit and threw merely 10 pitches. He was aided by a huge double play turned by Alvarez to end the seventh inning but then came back out and did some great work to get two outs before turning the ball over to Hanrahan for the four out save. In seven appearances since the All-Star break, and also since returning from injury, Beimel has worked 4.2 innings and given up hits in only three of the outings. He has been really good recently and it is great to see.

-Alvarez had a really nice day both at the plate and in the field. The double play that he turned in the seventh inning was the play of the game, easily. While he didn’t have a hit for the first time since his call up he really had some good at bats and worked the count. One particular at bat he was down 1-2 and laid off of a few pitches that he would normally swing at and drew a walk. He hasn’t really come all the way around and he still is missing some pitches that he should hammer, but he has improved his plate discipline so far.

Another tough test tomorrow that starts a three game series against the Phillies. Get your minds right.

Steelers Ink Colon, Scott, Mundy and Legursky

Another busy day for the Steelers as there was a ton of information to go through. With the Pirates season in full swing and them being in the race for the division I will not always be able to get to all the Steelers stuff right away, but I will do the best I can to throw things up when they come.

Late last night the news went out that the Steelers were going to cut Max Starks. This morning it because news and Starks was now out of the picture. This took a lot of people by surprise but for some reason it really wasn't that big of a deal to me. Starks had a $7M cap hit and with the Steelers fighting to get under the the salary cap this was a logical choice. Starks also was out for much of last season with a neck injury and the word on the street is he came into camp out of shape so that might have been the last straw.

After Starks was let go you thought the Steelers would pursue Willie Colon but word was that he was getting deals from multiple different teams and that he might go elsewhere which would really leave the Steelers in a bad spot on the offensive line. A little later in the day word came through that Colon had decided to take a deal with the Steelers for five years worth a reported $29M with $7.5M being guaranteed. Colon took a hometown discount to stay with the team as he reveiled that the Chicago Bears offered him about $3M more to play with them. Good sign for the Steelers. Colon will probably play right tackle but could really play guard if the Steelers somehow bring back Flozel Adams.

Later in the day it was also reported that Jon Scott was brough back for a two year deal. Scott was forced into playing time last season and while he wasn't good for much of the season he did have some bright spots. Scott will be back in a backup roll and this is a pretty much "meh" deal to report.

Word is Doug Legursky and Ryan Mundy have signed their tenders to stay with the Steelers. There isn't much news on this yet but if I see anything more about it I will post it here.

Pirates Game Day 103 Live Blog - @ Atlanta Braves

Pirates 5, Braves 2

Win - Kevin Correia (12-8)

Loss - Derek Lowe (6-9)

Save - Joel Hanrahan (30)

[Box Score]

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Game 102 Recap - Braves 2, Pirates 1 (10 Innings)

Tonight was another depressing loss, much like the loss last night, except for the terrible call in the 19th inning. The Pirates went to extra inning again and had David Ross beat them (again) with a single. The Pirates offense continues to struggle as they only gathered seven hits and gave outs away like it was their job, again.

Not even sure there is much to say about this game. If you watched it you know what I mean and if you didn’t watch it then you probably are pretty excited that you didn’t. The Pirates pitching was again outstanding but the outs on the base paths (not necessarily bad outs) and the lack of crucial hits really did the team in for the second night in a row.

After last night Paul Maholm had to be great, and he was. He went seven innings and gave up a sole run on nine hits. He struck out eight batters in 109 pitches and really could have came back out for the eighth inning, but Clint Hurdle decided not to bring him back out. A really gutty effort form Paul as he got big outs when he was in jams and gave the bullpen a breather that they desperately needed.

The pen was good again tonight. Tony Watson and Jose Veras both went and inning each and gave up a hit. Veras struck out two and really was strong again. Chris Leroux came out for the 10th inning and was only able to record one out before giving up singles to Nate McLouth and Frankie Freeman before getting his first pitch thrown to David Ross hit into left field for the game.

A lot of people are blaming Clint Hurdle for this game for not going to Joel Hanrahan in the 10th when Leroux got into the jam, and that is more than justified. In two extra inning games Joel Hanrahan threw as many innings as I had and I am seriously wondering if the only time we will see Joel is if the Pirates have a 1-3 run lead in the final inning. Saves are pretty overrated in most people’s book and while I think Hanrahan should have been out there tonight this was only one of the problems in the game. With the way the offense was hitting not sure it really mattered but you have to at least see Hanrahan at some point, right?

Want to know the other problem? The hitting, in a big way. The Pirates were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position tonight and when they didn’t have runners in scoring position they were getting eliminated on the base paths. Two runners were thrown out trying to steal after reaching as leadoff hitters and one was thrown out at the plate in a tie game trying to score. Now, don’t take this as me saying these were bad ideas, because they were not. When you have a team like the Pirates you have to try and create runs any way possible. Both base runners were thrown out by a good margin but you havge to be aggressive and Alvarez was out on a really bang bang play that took a perfect through. I don’t have a problem with them but when you don’t get a lot of hits getting out on plays like that is really going to kill you.

Try to salvage the series tomorrow.

Pirates Game Day 102 Live Blog - @ Atlanta Braves

Braves 2, Pirates 1 (10 innings)

Win: Scott Linebrick (4-2)

Loss: Chris Leroux (1-1)

[Box Score]

Hit the jump for the Live Blog recap

Steelers Re-Sign Suisham

After a pretty hectic night last night for both the Pirates and the Steelers (hey, Ike Taylor signed, you know) the Steelers were back at it. Today they come to an agreement with kicker Shaun Suisham. Terms of the deal are unknown but I can't imagine that this is going to rock any worlds.

Like Taylor, and every other free agent, the Steelers can't sign Suisham until Friday, like every other team, but this gives the Steelers their second kicker on the roster, along with Swayze Waters who was signed before the lockout.

The Steelers brought it Suisham last season to replace Jeff Reed who just fell off the face of the Earth and missed kicks that he automatic in making before. With the Steelers Suisham went 14-of-15 in field goal kicking with a long of 48. He was 1-1 in kicks between 1-19 yards, 4-4 between 20-29 yards, 1-1 between 30-39 and 8-9 from 40-40 yards. Not too bad for a free agent kicker int he middle of the season. He also made all 19 extra point attempts.

Suisham also punted a little for the Steelers as he 38.3 yards per punt in three attempts with one of them landing inside the 20.

When the Steelers brought him in last season I wasn't too excited about it because he track record was pretty erratic. I was pleasantly surprised to see what he could do down the stretch run and through the playoffs with some good kicks as well as showing some decent leg, knocking down almost all of his kicks between 40-49 yards. Hopefully this season he can do the same thing and continue to handle the bad turf at Heinz Field, which is not easy for any kicker.

Ike Taylor to Sign Four-Year Deal to Stay With Steelers

I have talked many times about how important Ike Taylor is to resign and how he is my favorite Steelers players and tonight I got the news I wanted to hear.

Taylor agrees in principle to a four year deal that will keep him in Pittsburgh until the 2014 season according to multiple league sources. There are no terms to the agreement, mostly because the Steelers have to wait until 6:00 p.m. on Friday to sign any free agents. If all indications are true from the league and television sources most everyone has seen then Ike will be back in the Black and Gold.

This was a really big sign for the Steelers considering that the only corner that they have under contract is Bryant McFadden and if they didn’t resign Taylor they were really going to have to do some work on the free agent market to get a deal done with a capable cornerback or two. It had been loosely reported that the Steelers felt good that they could get Taylor to resign but some indications from Taylor were that he was going to see what was out there. In the end he decided to come back.

In terms of coming back there would have been a ton of suitors if he wanted to test the market. The Philadelphia Eagles were among the teams that showed a lot of interest and they had some money to spend. Although we haven’t seen the money aspect of the deal you have to figure that Taylor left some money on the table to stay with the Steelers. The last time Taylor got a deal from the Steelers he took a hometown discount and while I think he is going to be paid well you have to wonder if he did something of the sort by not going out on the market and really cashing in. Ike has said many times he loves Pittsburgh and playing for coach Lebeau and I think we saw some of the decision he made.

While Taylor might not have the best hands he is one of the best in the league at his job. He only has 11 career interceptions in 125 games but in my opinion the job of a cornerback is to prevent the receivers from catching the football and Taylor excels at that. Taylor has only gotten better over the past couple of years and has made it a habit of shutting down the other team’s top receiver and rendering them obsolete. Chad Johnson/Ochocinco and Derek Mason/whoever the hell the Ravens call their #1 frequently get shut down by Taylor to the point that teams just don’t throw his way. Taylor is also ideal for the Steelers system in that he is a big physical corner that is an excellent tackler. To play in the Steelers system you have to be a good tackler and be physical and that is exactly what Taylor is.

Very solid sign for the Steelers. Should be fun to see what else the Steelers have up their sleeves to get under the cap while still trying to improve the team.

Embarrassing Ending - Braves 4, Pirates 3 (19 Innings)

For much of the night I watched a game that lasted almost seven hours and went over 19 innings with neither team having an extra base hit after the second or third inning or some junk, it took one of the worst calls in sports history to end the game.

The game lasted six hours and 39 minutes, a new Pirates record, and went on for 19 innings. It was a great baseball game to watch with an ending that no fan, not even a Brewers or Phillies fan, should have to go through.

I am literally speechless at the time I am writing this and at almost 2 a.m. (central time) I should have been to bed three hours ago but I stayed up to watch what turned out to be a great game up and down by both teams. The Pirates jumped out early and the Braves clawed back and forced extra innings, a lot of them.

The Braves got a break in the 19th inning (no really, the 19th) when pitcher Scott Proctor came up with one out and runners on the corners. Proctor hit a ground ball to Pedro Alvarez and he threw home to Michael McKenry with plenty of time and McKenry tagged Julio Lugo about six feet from home plate. Then, to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE’S, surprise home plate umpire Jerry Meals called Lugo safe. Game over.

You tell me:

I truly have no words for what happened here. There is no doubt in my mind that Lugo was out, even though he said he “never felt the tag” but it is plain as day. I understand that umpire make mistakes but this is more than a mistake. I am not sure what Meals is looking at or what the hell he was even doing to make that call. McKenry literally looked around after he saw Meals call him safe as if the plate moved and he was standing in the wrong place. I am utterly speechless and truly embarrassed as a fan of the game of baseball.

Both of these teams played their balls off for over six hours and threw it all on the line. Neither team had a position player left for about the last nine innings and both teams had relievers throw over 80 pitches. For the game to be ended on a play like this was horrible and might be the worst call I have ever seen in professional sports. Meals was bad all night with an inconsistent strike zone (for both teams), but there is a huge difference between that and what happened at home plate.

As most of you know I am a fan of the “human element” in baseball but this was so bad that it has me rethinking if I want replays in the game of baseball.

Among all this horrid home plate umpiring was an outstanding job by the Pirates bullpen. Everyone except Hanrahan threw and combined to go 13.1 innings only giving up nine hits, striking out 10 and only giving up the lone “earned” run. Jason Grilli went three scoreless innings and threw 50 pitches while only giving up three hits and Daniel McCutchen absolute pitched his balls off going 5.1 innings, throwing 91 pitches and only giving up three hits and the final run. This pen has been one of the most unsung heros of the team and tonight they showed that they can sack up when you need them to. Unreal job.

Hit the jump for the rest of the recap. I wrote most of this during extra innings around the 14th and 15th innings and since it is really late and I am kind of out of gas I am not really going to update it. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pirates Game Day 101 Live Blog - @ Atlanta Braves

Braves 4, Pirates 3 (19 Innings)

Win: Scott Proctor (2-3)

Loss: Daniel McCutchen (3-2)

[Box Score]

Click the jump for the Live Blog replay

Game 100 Recap - Pirates 3, Braves 1

Leading into this game there was some general excitement from all of the fans. Game was going to be on ESPN and give the Bucs some national attention and leading up to it the game there was some Pirates coverage on SportsCenter. All was good. Then it started to rain in Atlanta. You thought it might be over soon but then it wasn’t. We basically got to watch every other MLB game every played while we waited for the Pirates to be on ESPN for the first time since 2004. The game finally started, two hours late, and ESPN didn’t even bust out the 1992 footage in their intro montage. You knew it was coming though, and it did. You just hoped tonight wouldn’t be that bad.

James McDonald was not amused by the 1992 reference and came out to dominate. Although he only went 5.1 innings he gave the Braves little to no chance to even do anything with nine strikeouts and gave up eight hits while walking none. McDonald was outstanding through the first five innings before running into some trouble in the sixth, but once again the pen stepped up and got the job done.

The Pirates scored two runs in the second inning and tacked on another run in the sixth and rode McDonald and the pen to the 3-1 win. The Pirates only collected five hits but made the ones they did get count to take the first game of a tough seven game road trip. Ronny Cedeno drove home Andrew McCutchen, who led off the inning with a walk, and then Michael McKenry drove home Pedro Alvarez, who also walked, with a single to left field. McCutchen then drove home a run in the sixth for a huge insurance run to score Garrett Jones.

Chipper Jones homered in the eighth for the Braves. Whatever.


-Chris Resop and Jose Veras often get bashed, for no good reason that I can tell, but came in and got massive outs when they had to. Resop came in with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning, to follow McDonald, and all he did was get Nate McLouth to pop out to the catcher and struck out Alex Gonzalez. Veras came in the eighth inning with a runner on and one out and got two outs without a problem. So if anyone isn’t following me on twitter and wants an update for how terrible Veras is this was his 50th appearance of the year and he has only been scored on 12 times. How terrible is that?

-The offense wasn’t very good all night as they struck out 10 times and left five runners on base but they did what they have been doing all season, manufacturing runs. The Pirates had two 2-out RBI in the game and it just keeps working for them. Timely hits and quality over quantity are what the Pirates offense is about and you know what, it works.

-Dejan Kovacevic tipped off some great stats after the game as he noted that the Pirates pitching staff didn’t get a single groundout the entire game. Just unreal.

-Overall the pitching staff was efficient. The Bucs pitchers struck out 14 Braves as opposed to only one walk. You are going to win a lot of games if you do that. The Pirates strike out less batters than any other team in the league so I guess they came out to prove that they can strike out a few guys.

Game two of the four game set tomorrow. Going to be a really tough series but it was a great win tonight for the team to start the road swing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pirates Game Day 100 Live Blog - @ Atlanta Braves

Pirates 3, Braves 1

Win: James McDonald (7-4)

Loss: Tim Hudson (9-7)

Save: Joel Hanrahan (29)

[Box Score]

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay

Pirates Week in Review: July 18-July24

This is going to be a weekly post that I thought would be a nice addition to the site. This is going to be a Pirates weekly review where I go over the results for the past seven days and link up the box scores and the recap for each of the games. I also use the lovely FanGraphs and Baseball Reference to give you the box scores and the weekly stats for the team. I will try to have this up either late Sunday night or early Monday mornings, but you know how these things go.

Here is the Bucs weekly recap for this past week:

The Pirates went 3-3 on the week which was the start of a brutal stretch of games against some of the best teams in the NL Central and East. The Pirates found themselves in first place for some portion of the week as well as never being more than a game back of first place. The pitching staff was excellent to start the week but started to fade near the end and the offense left a lot to be desired, but that makes the 3-3 record that much more impressive.

Monday, July 18 - Pittsburgh 2, Cincinnati 0
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Tuesday, July 19 - Pittsburgh 1, Cincinnati 0
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Wednesday, July 20 - Cincinnati 3, Pittsburgh 1
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Friday, July 22 - St. Louis 6, Pittsburgh 4
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Saturday, July 23 - St. Louis 9, Pittsburgh 1
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Sunday, July 24 - Pittsburgh 4, St. Louis 3 (10 innings)
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Hit the jump for the stats:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Game 99 Recap - Pirates 4, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)

If I told you two months ago that the Pittsburgh Pirates would win a game against the St. Louis Cardinals to put them within a half game of first place on July 24th with Eric Fryer, Ronny Cedeno and Xavier Paul leading the charge what would you have said?

That is exactly what happened. Charlie Morton didn’t have his best stuff and couldn’t last six innings but the pen picked him up and the Pirates somehow scratched away enough runs, mostly due to a few doubles and then some speed, to salvage a series win after dropping the first two games.

The game was back and forth and honestly I had no idea if the Pirates were going to win this game. The best thing that could have happened in this game was that the Pirates could get into the Cardinals pen, which is terrible, to try and get some runs and that is exactly what happened. Cardinal starter Kyle Lohse only went five innings despite only throwing 64 pitches and the Cardinals threw out three relievers who combined to blow a save and then lose the game.

After trading runs through the first five innings the Cardinals took the lead, right before Morton was lifted, with a Colby Rasmus home run in the top of the sixth inning. This was bas an absolute missile to right field that was line drive that hit off the back fencing of the stands and bounced back into the field of play. Honestly it was probably the hardest ball hit at PNC Park all year.

The Pirates tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when Cendeno led off with a double and got to third on a bunt single by Fryer. Steve Pearce, who hit for the pitcher, grounded into a double play to score Cedeno.

Paul basically won the game for the Pirates all by himself. With one out he hit a ground ball to Albert Pujols who was playing deep at first base and beat the pitcher to the bag and earned an infield single. Paul then stole second base and advance to third when the throw to second went into center field. Chase d’Arnaud then drove him home with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to walk it off for the Pirates.


-Pretty big win for the Pirates. After getting beat down pretty bad in the first two games it was a good character bounce back win. The Pirates pulled to within a half game of first place (Brewers will still playing as I wrote this) so I guess you can’t really say this was a terrible series. They went 3-3 against two NL Central teams and should have a good feeling after this win to go into a four game set with the Braves followed by a three game set with the Phillies. A tough stretch ahead but this team has pretty much defied every law of physics so far so who knows.

-Eric Fryer plays maybe once a week but he made a real claim today to get some more playing time. While neither of his hits left the infield he was pretty good at the plate and he was very good on the defensive end. The biggest of the defensive plays came in the eighth inning in a tie game. Gerrold Laird led off with a double but Fryer was able to pick him off second base as the Cardinals were trying to bunt him over to third base. He also threw out a would be base stealer earlier in the game on a pitch out. Solid work.

-You might not want to admit it, but Ronny Cedeno is having a really good season for the Pirates. He had two hits today, both doubles which led him to score two of the Pirates four runs. His glove was sorely missed when he was out with a concussion and he makes some tough plays look routine. The average might not be what everyone wants it to be, but to play defense like he has this year is worth it. With pitchers like Paul Maholm and Morton, who are heavy ground ball pitchers, you need to have good defense and Ronny really has solidified the infield this year.

-I don’t think it should be any secret that Paul hasn’t been getting a ton of opportunities this season and really hasn’t played that well, but that was a huge play in the 10th inning, the whole way around. He is probably going to be one of the first players gone if the Pirates trade for an outfielder or Jose Tabata comes back but he is willing to do anything to help the team win and that goes a long way. He might have only go in there as a defensive replacement late in the game and only had one at bat, but he made that at bat count as much as four would have through a regular game. This is how this Pirates team wins games and every team needs guys that are do the grit work and maybe don’t get a ton of playing time. Nice job by Paul and you have to respect that.

-The pen did another nice job today. Recent acquisition Jason Grilli came in and got out of a huge jam with 1.2 innings pitched and he only gave up one hits and struck out two. Chris Resop came in and gave up two hits but pitched a scoreless inning and Joe Beimel picked up his first win of the season with what might amount to his best outing of the season in the top of the 10th. Another great job.

-Like I said before this is going to be a really tough road stretch with seven against the Braves and Phillies. It is going to be a ton of fun to watch so buckle up.

Pirates Game Day 99 Live Blog - vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Pirates pick up a huge win.

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Game 98 Recap - Cardinals 9, Pirates 1

I believe the saying goes like so: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes it rains. Today the Pirates lost, in a pretty big way, 9-1 to the Cardinals.

The game wasn’t much to talk about. Kevin Correia had another tough start as he gave up seven runs in 4.2 innings and even the outs he got were lasers hit by the Cardinals batters. He gave up eight hits and was done in by a horrid fifth inning that saw him give up a three run bomb to Lance Berkman and a solo shot to Yadier Molina. That put the Cardinals up by six runs and with the lineup that was on the field today that would have been asking a ton. Correia hasn’t been good and has not gone more than six innings in his last seven starts. He was pretty wild today and it didn’t work.

The Pirates lineup tonight gives you nothing to get excited about. It was a struggle of a night for the offense who only mustered up seven hits with two of them going for extra bases. The Pirates also grounded into three double plays tonight, which didn’t help the cause at all. Matt Diaz led all Pirates hitters with two hits to raise his average to .281 on the season.

So far through the first two days the Cardinals have taken it to the Pirates. They are clearly the better team so far and with guys like Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman in the middle of the lineup it makes it a hard club to beat on any night, let alone a night where your starter doesn’t have his best stuff. The Pirates have come a long way this year and this is a good start to the test of how far they have really come. Can’t say too much after only two games, but it hasn’t been pretty so far. There is a reason the Cardinals have ruled the NL Central in recent years.

If you were on Twitter tonight you probably saw that everyone has basically thrown in the towel on this season and it is sort of a head scratcher. The way people reacted tonight you would have thought this team was pinned to win the World Series this season and then are falling flat on their face. At worst the Pirates will be two games back, TWO, in the division in late July. Not really sure I am ready to prescribe the season as over because of two games, but to each their own.

A team that is mostly comprised of Brandon Wood, Chase d’Arnaud, Lyle Overbay and Josh Harrison have been able to go over a month without losing multiple games in a row. The last time the Pirates lost consecutive games was Jule 17-20 when they got swept by the Indians and then lost the opening game of a three game set against Baltimore. Look at the lineups the Pirates have had to throw up on the field and tell me this is “disappointing.” Too many people are ready to write this team off after losing two games in a row then you haven’t been watching much of this team all year.

There has been a lot of talk about who the Pirates should trade for and if they should make a big move and who they should get and who they should or shouldn’t give up. Let me just say one thing, one bat isn’t going to put this team over the top to be the odds on favorite to win the NL Central. Would a bat like Carlos Bentran help tonight? Sure as hell would. Would the Pirates have won the game if they had said bat? Hell no. Like my buddy Jon over the The McEffect said numerous times the Pirates are being built to be contenders in 2013, not 2011. This team came out of nowhere to shock pretty much everyone. If the Pirates are able to get a bat for cash and a not a top prospect then I am all for it. I am not willing to give up big prospects for a run at a division title that we might not have a great chance to win anyways. This is another subject for another day though.

Charlie Morton goes tomorrow. Buckle up, electric stuff.

Pirates Game Day 98 Live Blog - vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Pirates drop a lopsided game.

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay

Friday, July 22, 2011

Game 97 Recap - Cardinals 6, Pirates 4

The Cardinals struck for four runs in the top of the first inning and tacked on some insurance later in the game to give the Pirates their first back-to-back loss in what seems like forever. Paul Maholm didn’t have his best stuff and it hurt in the end as the Cardinals walked away with a 6-4 win.

Like I talked about in the intro the Cardinals scored four runs in the top of the first inning on a pair of home runs. After Maholm got the leadoff out John Jay triple to right field on what looked like a play that Garrett Jones should have made, but alas he didn’t. Next batter was Albert Pujols and he killed a ball to centerfield for a quick two run lead. Lance Berkman then doubled two batters later and David Freese went deep to right. Not a good inning for Paul.

It looked like it could get out of control but the Pirates started to chip away. With two outs Jones doubled to right field and then scored on a Ronny Cedeno single to left field. Mike McKenry then scored an infield single and Maholm singled home Cedeno. The damage might have been worse but on the Maholm single McKenry tried to reach third but was thrown out by like twenty feet. Not good base running. Inning killer.

While scoring a ton of runs of Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter isn’t easy it can be done, but you have to not let him drive in runs. That is exactly what he did in the third as he singled to right field to score Yadier Molina. Belch.

Things were calm on both sides until the Pirates struck in the sixth inning. Andrew McCutchen reached on a one out single and then Lyle Overbay doubled McCutchen to third base to set up the inning. Jones then blooped a single into left field that scored both runs but in another example of bad base running he got thrown out at second by a wide margin. The Bucs picked up two more hits after that and it might not have happened had Jones been on first base but that doesn’t excuse terrible base running.

The Cardinals gave themselves an insurance run when Molina absolutely crushed a ball to centerfield. Whatever.


-Paul obviously didn’t have his best stuff tonight. He has been pretty good about not giving up the long ball this year but that got the better of him in the first inning. It was just a hole that the Pirates couldn’t come back from. Paul went six innings and gave up ten hits and five runs while striking out two and walking two. He only threw 86 pitches and would have probably gone another inning if he wouldn’t have been lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning with runners in scoring position and two outs.

-The offense actually showed up tonight and tacked 11 hits on the board and hit the ball really well off of Carpenter who is normally untouchable on his typical nights. Even the balls that were outs were hit really hard and although they couldn’t come the whole way back they did a pretty decent job overall. Hopefully this can carry over for the rest of the series.

-Speaking of Carpenter, you can’t spot this guy four runs and expect to win. Even when he is hittable, as he was tonight, that is a very daunting task to try and come back from. The offense got close but just couldn’t overcome the big four run first inning. Carpenter went eight strong inning and although he gave up 10 hits and four runs he earned the win. When he is off you have to take advantage and win the game.

-Neil Walker’s line will read that he was 0-for-4 but he was squaring the ball up better than any hitter in the lineup. Outside of a deep fly ball he hit in his second at bat he was hitting line drives all over the place. The only problem was that they were right at players. Nothing you can do but I look for him to start to pick up the hits.

-The bottom of the lineup got the job done again tonight. Jones, Cedeno and McKenry combined to go 7-for-12 with two runs and three RBI. The top of the order (Alex Presley, Chase d’Arnaud, Walker) combined to go 0-for-12. The top of the order smacks two or three this and this is a totally different game. Stuff happens though.

-The bench management tonight was kind of a head scratcher. Steve Pearce was called up today and you would have thought he would have got a chance to swing seeing that he was killing the ball down at AAA on his rehab assignment. I don’t mind him not starting at first base over Overbay but when you pinch hit Xavier Paul instead of Pearce with the tying run at third base and two outs there is a problem. Paul hasn’t been good all year and is batting under .100 as a pinch hitter. I am not sure why he is your first guy off the bench. Matt Diaz also pinch hit in the ninth inning with one out and a runner on first base down two. Diaz is not going to put the ball over the fence, Pearce has of recent. Listen, Clint Hurdle knows a ton more about baseball than I do so I guess I shouldn’t be questioning him, but this was a head scratcher.

-Albert Pujols is really good at baseball and really really good at PNC Park. A 4-for-5 night with a home run, two doubles and a single. This guy broke his wrist like six days ago and he is still mashing. What a player.

-I don’t have anything against d’Arnaud at all. He seems like a really good kid and you can see he has some talent but the bottom line is that he is not getting the job done. Get Pedro up here, soon. d’Arnaud is not a good enough hitter to stick in the two hole and his defense has been pretty bad since his call up while Pedro isn’t getting much of anything from being down at AAA right now. Something has to give.

Come back and get them tomorrow.

Pirates Game Day 97 Live Blog - vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Pirates can't complete the comeback.

Hit the jump for the Live Blog replay.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Game 96 Recap - Reds 3, Pirates 1

Before we get into anything that actually went on today on the field that day baseball when you have to go to work is not cool. Couple that with the fact that the Pirates are off tomorrow and you are basically going two days without watching baseball if you have a day job. It sucks and it is going to be a long wait until Friday night.

Back to the game. The Pirates have a real problem closing out and collecting wins when they need them for a sweep. A few things on this front: 1) It is really hard to sweep a three game series and 2) This really isn't as bad as it seems. How isn't it bad? Well when you lose the chance to sweep that means that you have already won the series. The more series you win the better chance you have of having a good season. Does it suck we couldn't sweep the Reds? Yea, but winning the series is huge, especially when you only give up three runs in three games.

Today was another bad day for the offense. Five hits and they left eight on base while only going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Winning the two games was nice but it really sucks when you probably should have won the third game of the series and start to put some separationg between yourself and the rest of the NL Central.

Lets touch on the good first. Jeff Karstens threw another gem. 7.0 innings, seven hits, one earned run and 77 pitches. He did give up three runs but two of them were unearned thanks to Chase d'Arnaud. Karstens just continues to pitch well and I am done asking why and so should you. Enjoy what he is doing, becuase it doesn't get much better when he is on the mound.

That is it for the good.

There was a lot of bad and most of it was headed by d'Arnaud. He threw a ball over Lyle Overbay's head in the first inning that led to a run and then he booted another ball in the fifth, this one with two outs and the pitcher up, and it hurt just as bad as the pitcher came around to score two batters later. The Pirates need Ronny Cedeno back, soon.

The worst part of the game was in the seventh inning. The Pirates get two runners on with no outs and the top of the order comes up. Alex Presley has been the hottest hitter on the team not named Neil Walker so you feel pretty good about this and you are only down two runs. What happens next? Presley is asked to bunt and he bunts one right back to the pitcher who gets the easy force out at third. d'Arnaud comes up next and flies out and then the inning ends with a Walker strikeout. I have no idea why you would bunt Presley there. I am truely at a loss for words. What makes this worse is that d'Arnaud continues to bat in the two spot and has struggled mightily hitting. Setting up Chase in that situation just doesn't make sense when one of your best hitters is already up and you ask him to bunt. Jesus.

Whatever. Cardinals come in for a huge series on Friday. The Pirates get tomorrow off and some help might be coming on Friday. You could see any combination of Ronny Cedeno, Steve Pearce and Pedro Alvarez which will be a huge shot in the arm.

Pirates Game Day 96 Live Blog - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Game 95 Recap - Pirates 1, Reds 0

If you were ever an athlete, or even if you weren't, you know what it feels like when you are really good at something and even if you went into the situation you know you could do that thing with your eyes closed. We all have that one thing, whether it is a part of your job or if you play that awful softball team in your beer league, you know you are going to dominate. That is exactly what it feels like to be a member on the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff to play against the Cincinnati Reds so far this season. Not even kidding.

James McDonald threw his best game of the season and went 6.1 inning of scoreless ball. He was efficient, which he hasn’t been at all this year, and he threw his fastball for strikes, which he hasn’t been doing, which set up just a filthy curveball that he was throwing tonight. He struck out seven batters and although he walked three he only threw 87 pitches. This was his best outing of the year and if he can keep throwing the ball like this he is going to be scary good.

The pen was extremely good again. With the Pirates holding on to their 1-0 lead James McDonald loaded bases with only one out Joe Beimel came in to face the lefty Jay Bruce and Beimel struck him out and then Chris Resop came in and threw one pitch to get Drew Stubbs and escape the jam. That was the best and pretty much only shot the Reds had all night. Resop worked the eighth for a 1-2-3 inning and then Joel Hanrahan got the save despite giving up two singles, although both were with two outs. The Pirates are now 7-1 against the Reds this season and have outscored them 37-24. What makes this even more impressive is that they gave up 11 runs in their lone loss so in the seven Pirates wins they outscore the Reds 35-13.

The Pirates only had four hits on the night and there wasn’t much offense to go around, as evident by only scoring one run. The lone run came off the bat of Andrew McCutchen as he grounded out to short in the first inning to score Josh Harrison. No more runs after that and not many hits after that either. Mike Leake did a really nice job tonight for the Reds and probably deserved the win, but when you team hasn’t scored a run in two days there is probably not a good chance you are going to pick up a win.

The Pirates are still in first place of the NL Central and are now seven games above .500 and playing some good baseball. Trade talk is ramping up. What a time to be alive.

Pirates Game Day 95 Live Blog - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Back in First, Again. - Pirates 2, Reds 0

Last season if something went wrong for Charlie Morton the house would fall in and he would be garbage for the rest of the game. This year is the complete opposite and he put together an impressive performance after an almost 90 minute rain delay in the first inning to shut down the Reds and continue his dominance against the Red Legs helping in the 2-0 Pirates win.

The game started late and most people thought we would be able to get through it with no problem. Morton got into a huge jam with runners on the corner with no outs before Morton got Joey Votto to ground out on a comebacker and then got Brandon Phillips out via a strikeout. After a walk to Jay Bruce it got strange. With a 1-2 count to Miguel Cairo there was a huge flash of lighting and the game was put on hold for almost 90 minutes as it poured. Morton has thrown almost 30 pitches and you had to wonder if he was going to come back out.

After the delay Morton came back out and got Cairo to hit a ball back up the middle where Chase d’Arnaud laid out got the ball and while he is flat on his stomach glove flips the ball to Neil Walker on second base and barely get Bruce at second. No damage. That was as close as the Reds got.

Morton ended up going five strong innings and only gave up three hits and struck out three on 87 pitches. After a 34 pitch first inning it was really amazing that Morton could get through five innings and after he came back out he just cruised. Probably could have got through the sixth but Clint Hurdle decided against that. Really nice outing from Chuck.

The rest of the game was the Tony Watson show. He relieved Morton and went 2.2 innings and didn’t give up a single hit. He lowered his ERA to 2.40 on only 33 pitches and gave up a walk to the last batter he faced. Daniel McCutchen came in for Watson in the eighth and go a pop out with runners on first and second and then Joel Hanrahan slammed the door shut. Another great night from the pen.

The Bucs got both of their runs in the fourth inning. d’Arnaud singled to open the inning and then Walker singled hard to right field and d’Arnaud made a ballsy decision to go to third base and barely beats out a throw by Bruce. On the play Walker moved up to second on some great base running to set up two runners in scoring position with no outs. Andrew McCutchen drove in a run on a ground out to short and then Matt Diaz drove in Walker, who moved to third on the ground out, with a sacrifice fly to right.

The Pirates only managed six hits and Walker and Alex Presley were the only players in the game who had multiple hits, both with two. Walker extended his hit streak to 12.

I talked about how good the pitching was but you can’t say it enough. Watson, McCutchen and Hanrahan combined to give up zero hits in four innings of work and Morton has now pitched 23 innings against the Reds this season and has only given up one run and 13 hits. Any way he can pitch tomorrow and Wednesday too?

With the win the Pirates now hold sole possession of first place and are a half game up on both the Cardinals and Brewers. The Pirates were in first place after Friday’s game but that was only by a percentage point and they were never considered by themselves above any team, they were always tied. Now they are all by themselves. It isn’t going to be easy as they play two more against the Reds before going into a series with the Cardinals but if this team is going to be for real then they need to start winning games against the top competition in the division and they are doing that right now.

Also got some other good news before the game as ESPN will be picking up the Pirates on Monday, July 25 when they travel to Atlanta for a Monday night game. National TV for the first time in, like, forever, for the Pirates. How good does this feel? How fun is this?

Another big one tomorrow. Get some sleep you crazy animals.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pirates Game Day 94 Live Blog - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Pirates Week in Review: July 11-July 17

This is going to be a hopefully new weekly post that I thought would be a nice addition to the site. This is going to be a Pirates weekly review where I go over the results for the past seven days and link up the box scores and the recap for each of the games. I also use the lovely FanGraphs and Baseball Reference to give you the box scores and the weekly stats for the team. I will try to have this up either late Sunday night or early Monday mornings, but you know how these things go.

Here is the Bucs weekly recap for this past week:

The Pirates only competed in three games this week due to the All-Star break so there really isn't much to recap here. The Pirates won the first and last game of the series which won them their 19th series of the season. During the week the Pirates would spend a day atop the NL Central and finished up in a second place tie, beating out St. Louis by mere percentage points.

Friday, July 15 - Pittsburgh 4, Houston 0
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Saturday, July 16 - Houston 6, Pittsburgh 4
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Sunday, July 17 - Pittsburgh 7, Houston 5 (11 innings)
[Box Score] [TRBB Recap]

Here are the hitting stats for the short week:

This was a really good set of three games for Neil Walker. Before the break Walker had been starting to get hot and it was nice to see that the time off didn't deter from him swinging a good bat. Walker collected seven hits and drove in three in the series which included a four hit night on Saturday night. Brandon Wood, who many left for dead, stepped up and had a nice three game set, picking up three hits in his two starts. He hit an monster home run on Saturday night and slugged two doubles yesterday. Both Walker and Wood were a 0.3 WAR in three games, which were both by far the best of the week. Alex Presley bounced back nicely after a tough Saturday and collected three hits on Sunday. Presley took a lone hit in the opening game and then an ugly 0-for-5 on Saturday before bouncing back with a three hit day on Sunday.

If you watched any of the games this weekend your pitching begins and ends with Jeff Karstens. Karstens in one start was a 0.3 WAR and went the distance in only 83 pitches. You don't see stuff like that too often. Karstens didn't walk a batter and was a bit lucky as evidence by hit 3.82 xFIP. Daniel McCutchen was very good in his relief role, showing up in two games and not even giving up a hit. Chris Resop was also very solid in two appearances, earning his first save on Sunday after Joel Hanrahan blew his first save of the year. Resop appeared in two games and played pretty well despite a negative WAR. Jose Veras had a forgettable week when he blew a save and had a bad outing in the two he was in. The short week really didn't give us much look at anything from the Pirates staff.

The Pirates weren't particularly good offensively hitting only .237 with a team wOBA of .308 and below average wRC+ of 98. It was a three game week so there isn't much to analyze especially since part of the league played in four games while the Pirates only played in a three game set. Take what you will with the information above.

That will hold true for the pitchers also. The Pirates picked up two wins and besides Karstens effort didn't look too great overall. The Pirates finished 12 for the week in ERA with a 3.21 mark with them letting teams hit only .266 on balls in play. The Pirates forced the second least among of ground balls (37.9%) but were able to escape with two wins with a 7.7% HR/FB rate, which was in the top half of the league for the week.

Here is how the NL Central looks the week after the All-Star break:

1MIL5145.531---W 24.44.5-0.147-49413-1120-1712-86-933-1418-313-522-1342-339-1220-2031-256-410-1013-17
5CHC3858.39613.047.5L 24.05.1-1.038-5807-1012-2414-145-1021-2917-295-312-1728-4210-1620-2818-303-77-1311-19
6HOU3164.32619.580.0W 13.95.0-1.236-59-55-1715-257-104-1115-3416-291-310-1617-4814-1514-4117-222-84-167-23
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2011.

Next Week's Slate:
Monday, July 18 - Cincinnati (Willis) at Pittsburgh (McDonald) - 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday, July 19 - Cincinnati (Leake) at Pittsburgh (Morton) - 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 20 - Cincinnati (Cueto) at Pittsburgh (Karstens) - 12:35 p.m.
Friday, July 22 - St. Louis (Carpenter) at Pittsburgh (Maholm) - 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, July 23 - St. Louis (Garcia) at Pittsburgh (Correia) - 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, July 24 - St. Louis (Lohse) at Pittsburgh (McDonald) - 1:35 p.m.

Let me know what you think of the new feature and if you would like to see anything else in the weekly features the rest of the season. See everyone after the break and check back tomorrow for a [hopeful] podcast about the mid season Pirates.