Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pirates Game 65 Recap - Pirates 9, Indians 5

A few days ago I wrote this in wake of the Pirates getting swept by the Orioles:

If the Pirates go to Cleveland and take 2-of-3 from the Tribe or even get a sweep then people aren't even going to remember this series. I know things are all doom and gloom now but putting things into perspective there is still 100 games left and so far the Pirates are holding their collective heads above water.

Well the Pirates finished up a series win over the Indians and I haven't been seeing a lot of people talking about the three game sweep of the O's. Imagine how that works.

The Bucs overcame another bad outing by Brad Lincoln and Pedro Alvarez just crushed the baseball for the second straight day as the Pirates are continuing to hit the ball pretty well and it was able to pick up the starting pitching today. Normally having the pen work so hard is a bad thing but luckily the Pirates have a day off tomorrow before taking on the Twins so it isn't as bad even though the pen has been pretty overused so far.

The Pirates were behind the eight ball early as the Indians scored a run in each of the first and second innings but the Pirates went off in the fourth inning when Alvarez went deep to right field with a three run shot to give the Pirates a one run lead. The Indians got the runs right back as they bounced Lincoln out of the game when Shin-Soo Choo doubled home a pair of runs to regain the lead. Not really the way you want to answer an inning where your team takes the lead but Lincoln just wasn't getting it done and it really wasn't something that was a shock to see.

You know what was awesome though, the top of the fifth inning when the offense scored six runs thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera and his circus shortstop play. Alex Presley tied the game with a lead off home run and that is when it got interesting. The Bucs loaded the bases with one out and arguably the team's hottest hitter, Casey McGehee, coming up to the plate. McGehee hit a tailor made double play ball that Cabrera bobbled. Not only did he bobble it which probably cut the chances at an inning ending double play but with the ball on the dirt Cabrera tried to slap it to second baseman Jason Kipnis but instead of Kipnis getting the ball it rolled all the way to first base. Just a brutal play if you are an Indians fan. The Pirates scored two on the play and took a two run lead.

Things might not have been as bad if that was it but it wasn't. Alvarez hit a line drive out of the park. When I say it was a line drive I mean it was a laser. It was a pitch down in the zone and Pedro went down and got the 96 mph fastball and drove home three more runs. The game wasn't over, but the game was over.

I have no idea what to think about Alvarez. I don't think you see too many players who can go from being pretty much an automatic out to thinking about walking with the bases already loaded. I mean he was barely able to put a ball in play a week ago and in two games this weekend against the Indians he hits four home runs and drives in nine. He also added a double to get his average above .200 and got his OPS up to .722. I wish there was some sort of middle ground with him where he could be semi productive when he's not on these hot streaks but right now it is literally all or nothing with him and you just have to ride the hot streak while he's in it. I will say that there might not be a better player to watch on a hot streak than Alvarez. It is fun to watch Andrew McCutchen when he is hot but even McCutchen isn't a threat to put the ball out of the park like Alvarez is.

Another good offensive performance for the Pirates today. That is back-to-back games where the offense put up nine runs. Over the last six games they are scoring over five runs a contest and have scored five or more four times in those six games. McCutchen bumped his average up with a pair of hits that included a double as the top three hitters combined to go 4-for-13 with three runs scored, a home run and a double. Not too shabby.

Tony Watson earned the win and was actually really good today. He worked 1.2 innings and while he might be a little hot/cold this season he came out and slammed the door shut after Lincoln wasn't able to do much in his 3.1 innings. Watson only gave up one hit and struck out one and really stabilized the game and let the offense do the work. Jarred Hughes pitched a pair of innings and gave up a run but did a really nice job giving up only a pair of hits. He did struggle with control as he walked a guy and threw half of his 26 pitches for balls but he has been surprisingly good this season.

That brings us to the bad from today's game which was Lincoln. As I said before he only went 3.1 innings but he gave up eight hits and four earned runs. His stuff just didn't have it and while he did a better job of throwing strikes this game (67 pitches, 47 strikes) he just doesn't have enough pitches in order to do that. I know I have talked about this a ton before but as a hitter when you can go to the plate and expect either a fastball or curve ball then you are not set up very well to succeed. This is not to say that you can't get outs but as the lineup turns over and you go through a second time it becomes much easier to hit and we saw that today as Lincoln couldn't get deep in the game. I wouldn't be surprised to see him make his next scheduled start on Saturday but that doesn't mean I would like it.

Pirates/Twins on Tuesday at PNC.

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