Good to be back after a vacation weekend which included a game in Cincinnati. Now we are back to real life and while the Pirates lost a few series recently they got a good win in the series finale against the Reds and then held on against the Nationals in Washington in the first game of a four game set. It all wasn't good and the Pirates are still struggling in some aspects but I will take a win every day of the week, no matter how they come.
Before we get to much about the game the huge story out of the game was that it seems as if Jason Grilli might have an injury. Well, he probably does have an injury to his right arm but nobody has any idea how bad it may or may not be. Twitter is abuzz with the seriousness that most people think it is (career ending) and there are others who think he could possibly be alright (not many people actually think this) and I am sure it will be somewhere in between. I highly doubt anyone knows anything tonight and probably won't until he gets a MRI but here is to hoping it is on the better side of the possibilities. While I personally think that the Pirates could survive without Grilli that doesn't mean that losing one of your top relievers isn't a big deal.
On the happy side of the equation the Pirates got a monster night from Andrew McCutchen. He went 2-for-4 which isn't anything that will make your eyes pop out but in his first two at bats he went deep for two run shots each time and was a huge reason the Pirates were able to take a 5-0 lead after four innings of play. While there are some people who are really appreciate how good Cutch has been so far this season but a lot of people really aren't taking notice because he hasn't been as good as he was last year. He is now hitting .307/.379/.504 and is one of the top position players in the entire league. He will soon be in the MVP discussion if he isn't already. Think about this, Cutch is due an average of about $12M a year for the next five years thanks to his contract extension, think about what he could get if he just went through arbitration and hit free agency. He would have, as the kids like to say, all the money.
Charlie Morton was a little hot and cold tonight. He was about as good as I have ever seen him for the first four innings as he allowed only one base runner (I think) and was throwing pitches that nobody would be able to hit. The movement he was getting on his pitches was just unreal and he was able to get both righties and lefties out. The fifth inning he started to lose it a bit. He gave up a solo home run to Adam LaRoche and then after a decent sixth inning gave up a two run bomb to Jason Werth to make the score 5-3. All-in-all it was a pretty good start for Chuck as I think any of us will take an outing of 6.2 with only giving up three runs. If he can harness more of what he had in innings 1-4 then he could be a dangerous starter the rest of the season.
You know who had a really nice night at the plate tonight? Jordy Mercer. Every single one of his five plate appearances were great and he saw 29 pitches in his five plate appearances. Just really outstanding stuff tonight. Clint Barmes also had a nice night with two (!!!!) walks and has generally looked good in the last couple of weeks. This gives the Pirates a good problem in that you could really make a case for either guy playing at shortstop when Neil Walker comes back (possibly tomorrow). What it could do is give you a nice option against lefties (which Walker does not do well again) to play Mercer at second and Barmes as short as long as Barmes can give you something with the bat. Time will tell.
The Pirates were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. What sucks is that the Pirates haven't been coming through with runners in scoring position but while this isn't ideal I don't think it is a problem that any one thing is going to fix. In my opinion this is just something that will eventually come around and just like the current 30 game streak without a sacrifice fly they will start hitting better with RISP.
The big news tomorrow is obviously going to be the Grilli news. I am a little more optimistic than most and here is to hoping I am right.