Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Penguins/Rangers Second Round Schedule

Here is the schedule for the second round.

Friday, May 2 - New York at Pittsburgh - 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 4 - New York at Pittsburgh - 7:00 p.m.
Monday, May 5 - Pittsburgh at New York - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 7 - Pittsburgh at New York - 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 9* - New York at Pittsburgh - TBD
Sunday, May 11* - Pittsburgh at New York - TBD
Tuesday, May 13* - New York at Pittsburgh - TBD

* - If necessary

Pirates/Orioles Postponed...Again




Doubleheader baseball is cool but not watching the Pirates for three straight days is no fun.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pirates/Orioles Postponed. Makeup on May 1

Penguins/Blue Jackets Game 6 Mike Lange Goal Calls

Benstonium once again was good enough to cut together the Mike Lange goal calls from game six and put them with the video. Good stuff.

Enjoy.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Penguins ECQF Game 6 Recap - Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 3

First off, that was a really fun series to watch. Sure, as a fan of one of the teams that was in it you would really like to see them win in four games and win every game by like three of four goals but from an entertainment standpoint this series had it all. Teams that scored first weren't winning, leads were able to be held, some late goal that led to wins, and overtime games. This was really fun series to watch and while the Penguins won this in six games it felt a little bit closer than that.

This game was all kinds of crazy. For the first time in the series the team that scored first actually won and despite having a four goal lead entering the third period the Penguins did their damnedest to give us a third overtime game. The Blue Jackets were pretty badly outmatched for the first 40 minutes of play and it would have been really easy for them to roll over and die, but they didn't. They scored three goals in under five minutes and had the Pens reeling at the end of the game. The Penguins buckled back up and got the win. It was a good series by Columbus but the Penguins handled possession for nearly the entire series and for much of this game dominated.

Much of the talk all series was about how Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby weren't scoring goals and how that somehow made them irrelevant players. Tonight Malkin looked like he took that personally and was a beast on the ice, netting three goals, and skating really hard. Not that he hasn't skated hard in previous games but he looked like he wanted to prove something tonight, and he did.

Maybe the MVP of the series for the Penguins was Brandon Sutter. For much of the season he has played with some, shall we say subpar line mates. At the end of the year and in the playoffs when the Penguins have been healthy he has had some better options on his wings and he looks really good. With Crosby and Malkin playing on the same line for the last two games it has given him some more minutes on a second line center role and he has thrived. He scored the Penguins third goal of the night on a nifty breakaway backhand shot. He scored three goals and assisted on a few others and was really solid until he left the game with an injury. I think where he got hurt was blocking a shot and he limped straight back to the locker room. Part of me thinks that the Penguins got up and they didn't want to put him back into the game when things were already in hand. Then things got dicey and you are without one of your best players. It all worked out and here is hoping he is alright and will be back in for the first game of the second round.

The Penguins really won this game in the first period. They held the Blue Jackets to only seven shots and controlled the puck for nearly the entire period. It was almost as if the Blue Jackets thought they could win the game by not controlling the puck. It is what helped them to get out to the 4-0 lead that they (narrowly) held onto. The Blue Jackets did a much better job in the second and third period but in 5v5 play the Penguins had a nearly 55% corsi for. Things got back and Columbus was able to come back and make things interesting but it was really the beginning of the game that pushed them to the win.

Kris Letang was really good in game five and he was once again good tonight. He was second only to Paul Martin with 25+ minutes played and he led the Penguins with a 75% corsi for. Granted he had 75% of his starts in the offensive zone but it has been night and day difference for Letang in the last two games over the first four. When paired with Martin he has been outstanding and while I have no doubt that when Brooks Orpik comes back he will be with Martin but the way things are going now I think the Martin/Letang pairing needs to stick.

Tonight the best players on the Penguins were the best players on the ice. They dominated 5v5 play and every man of the top two lines recorded a corsi for percentage of 65% or better and really had Columbus on the ropes. This has pretty much been the case through the series but it needs to be repeated since you aren't seeing the goals come from the big guys.

Marcel Goc was outstanding tonight. He missed the first four games of this series with an injury that came from the regular season but he was an integral part of the bottom six and every time he was on the ice he was doing something good. He worked his balls off at the end of the game when Columbus was trying to get the tying goal and he damn near willed his way to an empty net goal and in the process he killed nearly 20 seconds off the clock and gave Columbus very little to work with. Just a great overall effort from him tonight.

Columbus really needed more from Sergei Bobrovsky. For a guy that is in the conversation as one of the best goaltenders in the league he was pretty poor the entire series. I talked after game five that he played well enough to steal a game but the Blue Jackets didn't score enough. They needed him to steal a game tonight and he didn't. Obviously it didn't help that the Penguins controlled play for much of the first half of the game but he never made the big save and looked really out of position on most of the goals he gave up. He was really streaky this postseason and that was his downfall. It wasn't just giving up one or two goals, it was giving up four goals in 30 minutes before he figured it out. By that time it was too late.

The Penguins are now on to the second round which is a great thing to write. Many were worried when this series was tied at two but the Penguins buckled down and played two pretty good hockey games in games five and six. While Columbus had a great season and showed a lot of fight the Penguins were just a better team. Now the Penguins will wait the winner of New York and Philadelphia where those teams will play a game six tomorrow night. The Rangers are up in the series and while I don't think I would want to see the Flyers I don't think I would mind if this one went seven games. Beat up on each other for 60 more minutes, that is fine by me.

I think some are going to be a little underwhelmed by the Penguins but there was a lot this series I liked. The Penguins were a pretty bad possession team going down the stretch of the regular season but they played much better in the playoffs outside of game two. Including the game tonight the Penguins were the second-best 5v5 possession team in the playoffs. Having the puck gives you the better chance to score which gives you the better chance to win. I like that.

Penguins ECQF Game 6 Preview - @ Columbus Blue Jackets


 Columbus Blue Jackets

7:00 p.m., Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH 


The Last Penguins Game
April 26, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 1 [Recap]


Probables

Pittsburgh (3-2) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Joe Vitale - Brandon Sutter - Beau Bennett
Tanner Glass - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Defense
Robert Bortuzzo - Paul Martin
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Columbus (2-3) (via Dailyfaceoff)

Forwards
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Jack Skille
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Blake Comeau - Artem Anisimov - Nick Folingo
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Jared Boll

Defense
Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson
Nick Schultz - James Wisniewski
Ryan Murray - David Savard

Goaltender
Sergei Bobrovsky


Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 3-2)

April 26, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 1 [Recap]



April 23, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (OT) [Recap]



April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]



April 19, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (2 OT)



April 16, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]




Stats

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Penguins/Blue Jackets Game 5 Mike Lange Goal Calls

Once again we get solid work from Benstonium putting together the Mike Lange goal calls with video.

Enjoy.


Penguins ECQF Game 5 Recap - Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 1

Wait, that score can't be right. One trend that got busted last night at the CONSOL Energy Center was the team that grabbed a 3-1 lead had lost every game. Sure, the Penguins got that 3-1 lead with only like a minute left but it's nice to break that trend and get a good win. The other trend that continued to play was the team that scored first lost. Columbus got the first goal of the game with about eight minutes to go in the first period on the power play but the Penguins came on real strong.

This entire time I have been waiting for Sergei Bobrovsky to steal a game for Columbus. He has been extremely up and down in this series and while the Penguins have got to him he's still a pretty damn good goaltender that is talented enough to steal a game or two. Last night he played well enough to steal a game and the Penguins still won. Bobrovsky made 48 saves on 50 shots and did everything he could to give Columbus the series lead going into game six but the Penguins won. That is a great thing.

Nearly this entire game was either a one goal contest or tied. The Penguins third goal was an empty netter and for the final 14 minutes or so they held a one goal lead. The game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate. This was a dominating performance from the Penguins and they peppered Bobrovsky and did enough to win. Take a look at the even strength Fenwick chart from the game:


That is a pretty dominating performance.

The Penguins CF% at 5v5 situations was nearly 63% and in close situations it was over 64%. That is the Penguins controlling the puck. The Blue Jackets went long stretches without getting shots and when you can't get shots off you can't win hockey games. There was about a 10 minute span in the third period when the Jackets didn't have a shot on goal.

Tanner Glass was the only Penguins player in 5v5 situations with a CF% lower than 50% and they had 10 players that were over 60%.

As it has been talked about a lot the Penguins went with a line that had both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on it. It didn't start that way but a few minutes into the game Dan Bylsma went with it and stuck with it. Columbus has done a pretty good job of keeping both of those players in check and while they have both been good (despite others saying they suck) they haven't scored goals. Their lines have, but they personally don't have goals. Well it is a lot harder to stick one guy on Crosby when Malkin is also on the ice. Really good stuff and it was fun to watch.

With Malkin and Crosby playing together for nearly the entire game that left a lot of the bottom lines in flux. It worked out well. The third line was especially beastly and that was headlined by Lee Stempniak and Brandon Sutter. Both of those guys were better than 77% CF% which was tops on the Penguins. When you throw in Jussi Jokinen, who scored the game-winner, who played with those two at times you have the three best possession players for the Penguins. I talked about depth being a problem during the regular season but this third line has come to play all postseason and it is fun to watch.

Marc-Andre Fleury was good. He had a brutal game four and was getting called out left and right and all he did was come out and backstop a win. Granted, he didn't have to face many shots and the Blue Jackets seemed pretty disinterested in making him make a lot of saves, but who cares. When he needed to make stops he did and much like he has done in the past he was able to bounce back after a rough outing and throw a gem. The Penguins needed MAF to be good and he was. Enough said.

The Penguins came out and did what they said they were going to do, play with more compete. I mean I think they were doing that before but a lot of people were questioning it and you can't do that after last night. They now have to win one of the next two games. I don't want any part of a game seven so I think the Penguins should just win game six and save my heart the trouble.

Pirates Game 26 Recap - Cardinals 7, Pirates 0

After a nice win last night, and finally scoring runs, there might have been some thought that the Pirates could go in and steal a game from Adam Wainwright. I mean they have done it before any maybe it would be the spark they needed to go on a little roll and get out of this funk they have been in. No dice on that. When the series started I thought they had to win the first two games of the series to win it. That is how good Wainwright is and coupled with the fact that the Pirates offense has been more off than on recently it was a pretty good bet that they weren't going to be able to get the win.

Up until this point in the season Edison Volquez was the best Pirates starter. That still is probably true, although you could talk about Gerrit Cole, but today he had what I hope will become just a hiccup. He rolled through five innings where he allowed a pair of runs, but he kept it close enough to give the offense a chance to win. Then the sixth inning happened.

Things weren't going to be all that bad. With one out Yadier Molina bounced into what should have been an inning ending double play. The turn by Neil Walker wasn't all that good and it sorta, kinda pulled Ike Davis off first. He was called off and Davis swore he stayed on but there was no good replay so the call stood. What probably should have been the third out and no runs scoring turned into a four run inning. Ballgame.

The call was probably bad. I don't think replay is the problem because there was no good look at it. You can't overturn a call on a guess. It just seemed like it was the kinda play that has defined the Pirates over the last 15 games. The call didn't lose the Pirates the game, or that inning. Volquez could have stopped the bleeding with another out and went into the dugout scoreless (for the inning) and didn't. Things started to spiral and when you give Wainwright more than a couple of runs then it's game over.

The Pirates offense managed only three hits and struck out 10 times. It was pretty bad. They did have chances, but they didn't want to get out of their own way enough to do anything about it. In the third inning, with the game still only 1-0 St. Louis, Tony Sanchez got on with an infield single and then Volquez singled up the middle. Two on and nobody out with the top of the lineup coming up. I think you know what happens next. Starling Marte sacrificed bunted, Sanchez got thrown out at third, nothing came of the inning.

I actually kinda hope that Marte bunted on his own. If this was a call from the dugout then Clint Hurdle needs called out for it. Publicly. If you have enough confidence in your leadoff hitter, the guy that has the best probability to get the most plate appearances, to have him bunt with no outs and guys on first and second in THE THIRD INNING then he shouldn't be hitting leadoff. Hell, he probably shouldn't be in the game. I literally can't think of one good reason to have Marte bunt there. Sure, he has been struggling but giving away free outs like that is horrible. Marte didn't even get a good bunt down. Sanchez was thrown out at third. Basically Hurdle could have kept Marte in the dugout and said "hey, just put an out on the scoreboard, we're punting this one." It's really stupid and I wish it would stop.

The Pirates have an off day tomorrow. At least they can't lose.

Pirates Game 26 Preview - @ St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals - 2:15 p.m.
Edison Volquez (1-1, 1.93) vs. Adam Wainwright (4-1, 1.46)


Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 3-2)
April 4, 2014 - Pittsburgh 12, St. Louis 2 [Recap]
April 5, 2014 - St. Louis 6, Pittsburgh 1
April 6, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, St. Louis 1 [Recap]
April 25, 2014 - St. Louis 1, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
April 26, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, St. Louis 1


Lineups

Pittsburgh (10-15)
1. Marte 7
2. Tabata 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Walker 4
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. Sanchez 2
9. Volquez 1

St. Louis (13-12)
1. Carpenter 5
2. Jay 8
3. Holliday 7
4. Adams 3
5. Molina 2
6. Craig 9
7. Peralta 6
8. Descalso 4
9. Wainwright 1

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Penguins ECQF Game 5 Preview - vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


The Last Penguins Game
April 23, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (OT) [Recap]


Probables

Pittsburgh (2-2) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Joe Vitale - Brandon Sutter - Beau Bennett
Tanner Glass - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Columbus (2-2) (via Dailyfaceoff)

Forwards
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Jack Skille
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
RJ Umberger - Artem Anisimov - Nick Folingo
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Defense
David Savard - Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin - Dalton Prout

Goaltender
Sergei Bobrovsky


Season Series (Tied 2-2)

April 23, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (OT) [Recap]



April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]



April 19, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (2 OT)



April 16, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]




Stats

Pirates Game 25 Preview - @ St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals - 4:05 p.m.
Francisco Liriano (0-3, 4.22) vs. Tyler Lyons (0-1, 3.00)


Season Series (Tied 2-2)
April 4, 2014 - Pittsburgh 12, St. Louis 2 [Recap]
April 5, 2014 - St. Louis 6, Pittsburgh 1
April 6, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, St. Louis 1 [Recap]
April 25, 2014 - St. Louis 1, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (9-15)
1. Marte 7
2. Harrison 5
3. McCutchen 8
4. G. Sanchez 3
5. Walker 4
6. Tabata 9
7. Mercer 6
8. T. Sanchez 2
9. Liriano 1

St. Louis (13-11)
1. Carpenter 5
2. Peralta 6
3. Holliday 7
4. Adams 3
5. Molina 2
6. Craig 9
7. Bourjos 8
8. Ellis 4
9. Lyons 1

Pirates Game 24 Recap - Cardinals 1, Pirates 0


The Pirates were shutout. They had four hits. In their current four game losing streak they have scored four runs.

They actually had a chance to score a run. This is how it went.


Of course that's what happened. It was awful to watch. It's almost as if Starling Marte is just happy to be on base for a change and then doesn't give a shit what happens after that.

After Marte got hit to lead the inning off Jose Tabata tried to bunt him over, unsuccessfully, twice. Because of course he did. He then moved him over with a hit. At some point I hope Clint Hurdle realizes that you can move base runners with things other than wasting precious outs with bunts and that if you don't think your leadoff hitter is good enough to, you know, swing the bat in that situation then maybe he shouldn't be hitting leadoff.

Gerrit Cole was really good. It didn't matter.

Maybe they will win tonight. Maybe not.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Grilli to the DL, Polanco Getting Love

The first part of the day saw the national media really jumping all over the Gregory Polonco train. It's almost like every single one of them got together and said that everyone is going to write something about him today. That is probably an exaggeration.

First, Albert Chen of Sports Illustrated said that Polanco is baseball's Next Big Thing.

The Next Big Thing is almost here. Are you ready to believe? Or are you already rolling your eyes?

The Next Big Thing is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound man-child who's being compared to everyone from Andrew McCutchen to Jadeveon Clowney. His name is Gregory Polanco, and he's the X-factor in the National League Central race, the sleeper pickup in your fantasy baseball league and one of the most enthralling prospects in the game; no player in the minors right now -- not Archie Bradley, not Oscar Taveras, not Byron Buxton -- is more deserving of a ticket to The Show.

The other article today is from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. This is just as much about the Pirates taking things slow with their prospects as it is about Polanco, but still fun to read.

The other news is that Jason Grilli is going to the 15 day DL and Jared Hughes is called up in his place.



Grilli really hasn't been right since he was hurt last year. He did get his velocity back this year but he just doesn't look right and hasn't pitched well at all. Not sure what this means for him going forward but hopefully he can get back some of the mojo.


Pirates Game 24 Preview - @ St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals - 8:15 p.m.
Gerrit Cole (2-1, 3.67) vs. Shelby Miller (1-2, 3.57)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-1)
April 4, 2014 - Pittsburgh 12, St. Louis 2 [Recap]
April 5, 2014 - St. Louis 6, Pittsburgh 1
April 6, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, St. Louis 1 [Recap]

Lineups

Pittsburgh (9-14)
1. Tabata 7
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Martin 2
6. Davis 3
7. Snider 9
8. Barmes 6
9. Cole 1

St. Louis (12-11)
1. Carpenter 5
2. Jay 8
3. Holliday 7
4. Adams 3
5. Molina 2
6. Craig 9
7. Peralta 6
8. Wong 4
9. Miller 1

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pirates Game 23 Recap - Reds 2, Pirates 1

Another game and another loss for the Pirates. They are in some kind of skid right now and while they weren't swept in the four game series they lost three of four games and are now 3-11 in their last 14 games. Yikes.

Today Brandon Cumpton got the start for Wandy Rodriguez who is on the DL thanks to some knee pain or whatever is wrong with them. Cumpton actually had a really nice start today. He went seven innings and gave up four hits, total, and was beaten by one hit off the bat of Ryan Ludwick two out double that platted a pair of runs. Cumpton did walk a Red and hit three others but as a whole he was really good and gave the Pirates more than you could want when calling up a guy to make a (possible) spot start. It was all for not though.

Reds starter Tony Cingrani wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination but the Pirates offense was dreadfully bad. After cutting back on the strikeouts they whiffed 12 times and walked twice while gathering seven hits. Once again the Pirates were able to get on the board in the first inning as Pedro Alvarez got a hit off the lefty and platted Neil Walker who reached after a great plate appearance from the right side. All seemed good. Wish it continued.

A few times the Pirates got in good positions. First and second and one out and they didn't do much with it. The Pirates ended the game going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and while the Reds gave the Pirates chances and the Pirates just didn't take them.

There are a lot of things going on with the Pirartes offense right now. Some of them are just bad luck (as much as you want to believe it) as their batting average on balls in play is .262 which is 29th in the league as compared to the league average of .296. Some of the problems is having Starling Marte striking out what seems like a half dozen times per game while this is the offense the Pirates are getting from the shortstop position:



WOOF.

I talked a little bit about Marte during the game on Twitter when I said that I thought it was time for him to get out of the leadoff spot. That was a little bit reactionary by me as I don't think that will happen and there really isn't a good replacement for him. Marte is an extremely streaky hitter but he has been pretty awful for much of this season. He is striking out nearly 33% of his plate appearances and has look wildly lost at the plate. It sucks because he is extremely athletic and talented but that hasn't come out yet.

The shortstop position is really bad. Clint Barmes is not going to be a good hitter, as we have seen over the last few years, but Jordy Mercer has struggled in a huge way. So far this season Mercer is hitting .183/.242/.200 and didn't have a single hit in the entire Reds series.

This are really bad right now and it doesn't get any easier as they travel to St. Louis for a three game set tomorrow. Gerrit Cole is going to be on the mound and the Pirates need him to be a stopper in the worst way.

Pirates Game 23 Preview - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates - 12:35 p.m.
Tony Cingrani (1-2, 3.22) vs. Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 0.00)

Season Series (Reds lead 4-2)
April 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 8, Cincinnati 7 [Recap]
April 15, 2014 - Cincinnati 7, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
April 16, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5 [Recap]
April 22, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]
April 23, 2014 - Cincinnati 5, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]

Lineups

Pirates (9-13)
1. Marte 7
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Sanchez 3
5. Alvarez 5
6. Tabata 9
7. Mercer 6
8. Stewart 2
9. Cumpton 1

Reds (10-11)
1. Heisey 8
2. Votto 3
3. Phillips 4
4. Bruce 9
5. Frazier 5
6. Ludwick 7
7. Mesoraco 2
8. Cozart 6
9. Cingrani 1

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pirates Game 22 Recap - Reds 5, Pirates 2

In the first inning of the game today the Pirates were able to string together back-to-back-to-back walks and Alfredo Simon walked in a run as part of one of those three walks. The Pirates sent eight batters to the plate in the first but were only able to scratch apart one run.

Charlie Morton did what he seemed to do all season. Things went really well for a stretch and then all at once things kinda came unraveled. He retired nine straight Reds at one point but in the fifth inning he started by hitting the seventh hitter and walking the eighth hitter. He then gave up a sacrifice bunt (free out!) before giving up a single to Billy Hamilton and then Chris Stewart threw away hit second ball of the night to plate another run. All told it was three runs on one hit and the error to turn a 2-1 game into a 4-2 game.

Morton wasn't bad but he wasn't good either. He went six innings and gave up four runs (three earned) and walked five. You are never going to have good results when you walk five hitters even if you are a ground ball guy who can erase some walks with ground balls. Well, Morton didn't get any double plays tonight and the fifth inning did him in. Just a frustrating end to an outing that started out pretty well.

The defense wasn't overly great as Stewart had a pair of throwing errors in attempts to throw out base stealer plus McCutchen added an error when he bottled a ball in center that allowed Hamilton turn a single into a double which he eventually scored from. Also something that didn't help on the defense side of the ball was that the Morton/Stewart due had five bases stolen off of them. Way far from ideal.

The Pirates ended the game with six hits but only three players had those six hits. McCutchen contented to stay ridiculously hot with a pair of hits while Starling Marte and Stewart each had a pair of hits. The offense had a glimmer of hope late as they had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth inning but Neil Walker flied out to the shortstop in shallow center and then McCutchen grounded out to end the game.

Another fairly frustrating loss. It is a little frustrating because the Pirates didn't strike out a lot tonight (four times) so they put the ball in play a good bit but had nothing to show for it.

Here is hoping they come back from it tomorrow. Bad night tonight for teams from Pittsburgh against teams from Ohio. Blah.

Penguins ECQF Game 4 Recap - Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

Woof. That was a tough game to watch at the end if you are a fan of the team that does not usually play hockey in the city that is in Columbus, Ohio. In a game that was much more of a do-or-die for the Blue Jackets than it was for the Penguins they certainly didn't come out and play like it but they sure did finish like it and that is all that really matters and seems to be the calling card for the team that does not score the first goal of the game in what is now every one of the four games of this tied series.

For the first 59 minutes of this game Marc-Andre Fleury was the best player on the ice for either team. He didn't allow a 5v5 goal and probably would have been the number one star of the game if the game didn't include the 60th minute. Sadly it did and sadly it is going to be what MAF is remembered for pretty much no matter what. This is what happened in that 60th minute:



[via]

The way I feel about this is that I don't have a problem with MAF coming out to play the puck. Coming out to play the puck and not just giving the puck on a dump-in to Columbus is kinda his job. I don't like the result of the play. I don't mind the process. A lot of people are going to chalk it up for MAF being a horrible puck handler. That is fine. His puck handling woes are wildly overrated but whatever.

He did give up a real soft goal to Nick Foligno as he crossed over the Penguins blue line as overtime started and that was the back breaker. It was a pretty brutal goal to give up. Those last two plays are going to get all the plays but for as good as the Penguins puck possession game was in the series up until this point it was equally as brutal today.

At 5v5 today the Penguins Corsi for percentage was 38.1% which means that they rarely had the puck and outside of the first 12 minutes of the game they were badly outplayed by the Blue Jackets. For the game the Penguins were outshot 46-25 and the Penguins did a nice job (sarcastically) by contributing 11 giveaways and losing the face-off battle 39-29. Actually if you take Sidney Crosby out of the equation the Penguins lost the face-off battle 30-13. The is horribly bad.

The Penguins only had one player that had a positive Corsi and that was Olli Maatta. Tanner Glass was second on the team and he was an even Corsi player. Think about that for a second, Tanner Glass was the second-best puck possession player for the Penguins tonight and he played a total of 10:47.

The Penguins best players weren't great and the secondary players were bad. The Blue Jackets took it to the Penguins today and they are probably lucky that they made it to overtime. Evgeni Malkin was held without a shot and despite the top line scoring out as the best puck possession line on the team they still weren't holding any water in terms of actually having the puck.

A lot of people are going to blame Fleury for the loss tonight, and while he had some wildly forgettable moments at the end of the game and in overtime he is far from the person to blame in this game. The Penguins got out to a 3-0 lead in the first half of the first period and all they did was sit back on it. Somehow (in a big part to MAF) the Penguins were holding a three goal lead. The defense actually played a pretty good hockey game down the stretch and while the team seemed to run around with their head cutoff for much of the game they held the Blue Jackets without a shot for nearly the final 14 minutes of the game.

Actually the only shot the Blue Jackets got on net in the final 13:38 was the shot that found the back of the net that was misplayed by Fleury. I think that just made it worse. Man...

The good thing is that the Penguins aren't down in the series, the series is tied. The Penguins are now in a three game series where two of those games are going to come at home. I don't know what that means but I guess we will start to find out on Saturday.

Steelers 2014 Schedule

Evidently the scheduling coming out for the NFL warranted a TV special even know all the schedules leaked throughout the day. Seems pretty dumb. Probably because it is dumb.

Anyways, here is the schedule for the Steelers for the 2014 season.


[via]

Pirates Game 22 Preview - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Alfredo Simon (2-1, 0.86) vs. Charlie Morton (0-2, 4.32)

Season Series (Tied 2-2)
April 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 8, Cincinnati 7 [Recap]
April 15, 2014 - Cincinnati 7, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
April 16, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5 [Recap]
April 22, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (9-12)
1. Marte 7
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Martin 2
6. Davis 3
7. Snider 9
8. Mercer 6
9. Morton 1

Cincinnati (9-11)
1. Hamilton 8
2. Votto 3
3. Phillips 4
4. Bruce 9
5. Frazier 5
6. Bernadina 7
7. Mesoraco 2
8. Santiago 6
9. Simon 1

Penguins ECQF Game 4 Preview - @ Columbus Blue Jackets


 Columbus Blue Jackets

7:00 p.m., Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH 


The Last Penguins Game
April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]


Probables

Pittsburgh (2-1) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Jayson Megna - Brandon Sutter - Beau Bennett
Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Columbus (1-2) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Jack Skille
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
RJ Umberger - Artem Anisimov - Nick Folingo
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Defense
David Savard - Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin - Dalton Prout

Goaltender
Sergei Bobrovsky


Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-1)

April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]



April 19, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (2 OT)



April 16, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]




Stats

Pirates Game 21 Recap - Reds 4, Pirates 1

This game was about the same thing that happened the last time the Pirates faced Johnny Cueto. Cueto again went for a complete game and again allowed the Pirates to only get three hits and again gave the Reds a win. While he didn't strike out 12 Pirates last night (only four) he was wildly efficient after throwing over 30 pitches in the first two innings. The only blemish that he got was in the ninth inning when Andrew McCutchen went oppo bomb on him to make the score 4-1 with one out. I rarely like to say that a starting pitcher "has a teams number" but Cueto has the Pirates number.

The good news is that the Pirates got another outstanding start from Edison Volquez. He pretty much went pitch-for-pitch with Cueto for the first six innings. The problem is the seventh inning didn't go all that well and that is where things fell apart. Entering the seventh the Reds only had one hit, but after back-to-back hits to start the inning the Reds got things going. They scored two runs that inning and that proved to be just enough for Cueto even if he got a few more insurance runs.

Volquez went seven full innings and gave up only five hits and two runs. I will take that outing every day of the week. He threw 71 of his 100 pitches for strikes and for a guy who wasn't able to throw a lot of strikes he is sure throwing a lot of strikes. He was getting ahead of hitters and making good pitches. It is still pretty early but it still is kind of amazing that he has been this productive. Hopefully this continues.

McCutchen is another positive. He is starting to hit the ball really well after a slower start and when he is consistently hitting the ball the opposite direction like he has been then things are join really well. The Pirates had three hits last night and McCutchen had two of them to go along with a walk. He is up to .288/.414/.500 line and is 16-for-44 in his last 11 games with seven walks, six strikeouts, and eight extra base hits. Of those 11 games he has at least one hit in 10 of them and while those are just arbitrary end points things are looking really good for him right now.

This is just one of those games. Cueto was really good and has been really good all season. The Pirates have two more against the Reds to finish up this week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Penguins/Blue Jackets Game Three Mike Lange Goal Calls

Big stick tap to Benstonum for putting together Mike Lange's goal calls from game three last night to the video highlights. Enjoy.


Pirates Game 21 Preview - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Johnny Cueto (1-2, 1.50) vs. Edinson Volquez (1-0, 1.71)

Season Series (Tied 2-2)
April 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 8, Cincinnati 7 [Recap]
April 15, 2014 - Cincinnati 7, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
April 16, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
April 21, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (9-11)
1. Marte 7
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Martin 2
6. Davis 3
7. Snider 9
8. Mercer 6
9. Volquez 1

Cincinnati (8-11)
1. Hamilton 8
2. Votto 3
3. Phillips 4
4. Bruce 9
5. Frazier 5
6. Ludwick 7
7. Pena 2
8. Cozart 6
9. Cueto 1

Suspensions/Fines Handed Out For Pirates/Brewers Easter Incident



Nothing overly shocking here. Gerrit Cole not on the list might be a little shocking but I am not sure MLB wants to open up yelling at other players for fines or suspensions. Cole did somewhat start this but doesn't overly surprise me he wasn't on here. Even if Cole was suspended it would not have been for more than a couple of games and most likely wouldn't have caused him to miss a start.

The whole thing was largely dumb and stupid to begin with. That is right, fighting in baseball is dumb. Hopefully everyone can move on from this.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pirates Game 20 Recap - Pirates 6, Reds 5

The Pirates have had some really tough games recently. Including tonight they have had leads in each of the last four games and each time they have given up those leads late and before tonight they had lost all three. Tonight they were able to lose the lead, tie the game, then win the game. I would be lying if I said this didn't feel real damn good.

Actually the Pirates got all the offense they needed with one swing of the bat. With the Pirates already down 2-0 they went to work in the fourth inning. It started with an Andrew McCutchen single followed by a Pedro Alvarez double and a Neil Walker hit by pitch. Then came up Ike Davis. Davis has been pretty good in his few games with the Pirates and he took a first pitch fastball and hit a broken bat grand slam.



 Like I said, Davis has been pretty good since coming over to the Pirates. Including tonight he is 5-for-13 with a home run (grand slam tonight), four runs, and a double. Obviously he's not going to continue to hit like this but it is really nice to have a reasonably talented player for the big portion of the first base platoon.

 Anyways, back to the fourth inning. It was really nice to see. Mike Leake had done a pretty nice job the first time through the order giving up only three hits through those first three innings. In the fourth inning he gave up the hit to McCutchen, which isn't overly surprising, but against the two left handed hitters he didn't hit with a pitch he tried to go inside with a fastball. The one to Alvarez was 90 mph and the one to Davis was 89 mph. Both pitches got crushed. It was a huge inning.

 The Pirates offense actually played pretty well tonight which comes off a pretty good series against the Brewers. They had 12 hits tonight, walked four times, and only struck out three times. That is exactly what you need from the offense. Everyone but Russell Martin, Clint Barmes, and Jose Tabata had a hit and while you would like to see a hit here or there the other guys in the lineup picked up those guys. Good to see.

The Pirates came into the game with an extremely short bullpen as Jason Grilli, Tony Watson, and what seemed like 12 others weren't available so it was going to be extremely important for Francisco Liriano to go deep. He did. Frank went 7.0+ innings and gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks.

It wasn't ideal as he exited the game and saw Justin Wilson give up a few runs he left on the pond but it was a pretty nice outing from Liriano. Wasn't a great outing but if he didn't go at least seven then the Pirates were going to be in a world of hurt. Thankfully it didn't come to that.

 The Pirates actually walked this one off. They were down 5-4 going into the bottom of the eighth inning when Reds manager Bryan Price acted in the Pirates best interest. In a wildly horrible decision Price brought in left handed reliever Manny Parra. That really wasn't the bad part of the decision, it was that McCutchen was leading off the inning. I know why Price brought in Parra, the Pirates had a left laden portion of the lineup coming up and maybe he didn't want to waste one guy for McCutchen. Big mistake. 'Cutch is a career .334/.419/.579 hitter against left handed pitching and hit .388/.479/.650 against them in 2013. All 'Cutch did was go deep to right centerfield. Tie game.

 In the ninth the Pirates got after it with Martin and McCutchen reaching base and then Walker came through with the bleeder and thanks to some awful defense from Cincinnati the Pirates walked it off.

Yay winning.

 Speaking of Walker he has been awfully good recently. He went 3-for-4 on the night and that one out was a screamer in his first at bat that he hit right at Jay Bruce on a line. He is seeing the ball well and has been putting a lot of balls over the fence. The ball he hit for the game winning probably should have been turned into an out, but it wasn't. I will take it.

Penguins ECQF Game 3 Recap - Penguins 4, Blue Jackets 3

This was just about a carbon copy of game two of this series except the teams just flipped who took the lead and dominated the game early. The Blue Jackets scored two goals in the first 3:18 of the game and the Blue Jackets fans were crazy into the game. The Penguins have played in some big situations and played in some really hostile places but they looked pretty shook to start the game. Luckily they settled down and Marc-Andre Fleury helped hold the fort with enough time for the offense to get going in the third period. When the offense came, it came in a big way (phrasing).

Like I said, this was totally opposite. The Penguins had nothing going through nearly two periods of play and it looked like it might get ugly. The Penguins then got a goal on a pretty nice play by Brooks Orpik with 1.8 seconds left in the second period. You know, Orpik just scoring big goals like we all planned.

I must admit that Orpik played a pretty damn good game tonight. He has been fairly awful all season and hasn't been good so far this playoffs but tonight he played some pretty good hockey. He was one of the most effective defenseman in terms of advanced stats (+8 Corsi) and even scored the goal. I haven't been very confident at all with him on the ice but tonight he stepped up in a big way in a game that started pretty poorly.

The stats are going to show that the Blue Jackets racked up 65 hits in the game. I am sure that is going to get a lot of talk and while I think hits in the playoffs are more tangible than in the regular season that is somewhat of a good thing for the Penguins. You know why? When you are throwing hits that means you don't have the puck. When you don't have the puck you can't score goals. As the Toronto Maple Leafs how that works outs. Just for fun take a look at the Fenwick flow chart from tonight's game:


Remember Fenwick is the goals scored, plus missed shots, plus shots on goal. Notice when things started to go bad for Columbus?

When you factor in block shots with all the fun stuff that Fenwick gives you that is where you get your Corsi number. In 5v5 play tonight the Penguins had a 60% Corsi. That is...very good.

The Penguins still had some big time problems tonight. Their power play went 0-for-6 and most of those came in the first half of the game when they were down two goals. The Penguins have thrived on the power play for much of the season and it was almost as if Columbus was begging them to get back into the game but the Pens couldn't figure out the Columbus PK and therefore were still searching after unlimited chances.

On the positive side the Penguins didn't give up a short handed goal (!!!) and the penalty kill did a nice job killing off all four Columbus power play opportunities, including one with about seven minutes left.

MAF only made a handful of saves thanks to Columbus not being at all interested in having the puck so the three goals he allowed on 20 shots aren't going to look all that good. It turns out to be an .850 save percentage and a lot are going to go with the "playoff Fleury" thing after looking at the box score. He didn't have to make a ton of saves but when your team lays down and plays as bad as the Penguins did in the first and most of the second it would have been easy for him to mail it in and move on to game four with the Penguins down 2-1. He didn't though and battled hard and gave them a chance. He looked like he was fighting the puck at times but over the last 55 minutes of the game he gave up one goal and should get some props for being one of the betters players on the ice for the entire game.

Sidney Crosby is getting a lot of talk about him needing to step up and be the best player in the world. He hasn't scored a goal yet this series and has had minimal impact on the game but tonight when he was on the ice in a 5v5 situation his line had the puck. Crosby's 5v5 CF% (Corsi-For Percentage) was 76.2% that led all skaters. He only had one assist on the night but like I said you need to have the puck to score and if he is going to have possession of the puck that much the goals are eventually going to come. Without scoring a goal Crosby played a really nice game.

Evgeni Malkin is getting the same talk and he had somewhat of an up and down game. Early on he was really bad. A lot of turnovers and even though he has the talent he hasn't been playing all that well. He was a monster in the third period and finished the game with a 71.4% CF%. That is pretty good.

Actually the Penguins had six other players that were 65% or better CF on the night. When I talk about the Penguins dominating possession this is what I am talking about.

This wasn't a good total game by the Penguins by any stretch of the imagination. The Penguins can win these games because they are just more talented than the Blue Jackets. The Penguins can not come to play for a period and they will still be alright. In games one and three the Blue Jackets didn't play for a period and it cost them the game. Twice. Not saying Columbus isn't a good team, because they are, but the Penguins just have more talent and most times the talent is going to win out.

Penguins ECQF Game 3 Preview - @ Columbus Blue Jackets


 Columbus Blue Jackets

7:00 p.m., Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH 


The Last Penguins Game
April 19, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (2 OT)


Probables

Pittsburgh (1-1) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Beau Bennett
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Tanner Glass - Brandon Sutter - Lee Stempniak
Jayson Megna - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Columbus (1-1) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Jack Skille
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
RJ Umberger - Artem Anisimov - Nick Folingo
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Defense
David Savard - Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin - Dalton Prout

Goaltender
Sergei Bobrovsky


Series (Tied 1-1)

April 19, 2014 - Columbus 4, Pittsburgh 3 (2 OT)



April 16, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3




Stats

Pirates Game 20 Preview - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:00 p.m.
Mike Leake (2-1, 2.95) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-3, 3.96)

Season Series (Cincinnati leads 2-1)
April 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 8, Cincinnati 7 [Recap]
April 15, 2014 - Cincinnati 7, Pittsburgh 5 [Recap]
April 16, 2014 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (8-11)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Walker 4
6. Davis 3
7. Tabata 9
8. Barmes 6
9. Liriano 1

Cincinnati (8-10)
1. Hamilton 8
2. Votto 3
3. Phillips 4
4. Frazier 5
5. Bruce 9
6. Ludwick 7
7. Mesoraco 2
8. Cozart 6
9. Leake 1

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pirates Game 19 Preview - vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates - 1:35 p.m.
Marco Estrada (1-1, 3.06) vs. Gerrit Cole (2-1, 4.74)

Lineups 

Pirates (8-10)
1. Marte 7 
2. Harrison 5 
3. McCutchen 8 
4. Davis 3 
5. Walker 4 
6. Tabata 9 
7. Barmes 6 
8. Stewart 2 
9. Cole 1

Brewers (13-5)
1. Gomez 8 
2. Segura 6 
3. Braun 9 
4. Lucroy 2 
5. Davis 7 
6. Gennett 4 
7. Reynolds 3 
8. Bianchi 5 
9. Estrada 1

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Penguins ECQF Game 2 Preview - vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Last Penguins Game
April 16, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3 [Recap]


Probables

Pittsburgh (1-0) (via Dailyfaceoff)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Columbus (0-1) (via Dailyfaceoff)

Forwards
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Blake Comeau
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Derek MacKenzie - Artem Anisimov - Jack Skille
Corey Tropp - Mark Letestu - Jared Boll

Defense
Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout
Ryan Murray - David Savard

Goaltender
Sergei Bobrovsky


Series (Pittsburgh leads 1-0)

April 16, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3




Stats

Pirates Game 18 Preview - vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Matt Garza (0-2, 3.43) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (0-2, 7.31)

Season Series (Milwaukee leads 4-1)
April 11, 2014 - Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]
April 12, 2014 - Milwaukee 3, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]
April 13, 2014 - Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 1
April 17, 2014 - Pittsburgh 11, Milwaukee 2 [Recap]
April 18, 2014 - Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 3 [Recap]

Lineups

Pittsburgh (8-9)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 3
4. Alvarez 5
5. Tabata 9
6. Davis 3
7. Walker 4
8. Barmes 6
9. Rodriguez 1

Milwaukee (12-5)
1. Gomez 8
2. Segura 6
3. Braun 9
4. Ramirez 5
5. Lucroy 2
6. Davis 7
7. Reynolds 3
8. Weeks 4
9. Garza 1

Pirates Game 17 Recap - Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 3

This game was all about opportunities. The Pirates had unlimited opportunities to put this away early and failed to do so. The Brewers got some opportunities to get back into the game and despite having a runner thrown out at the plate they were able to take the lead and add on. Later in the game the Pirates had the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth innings and came up empty.

Pirates hitters went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and Pedro Alvarez himself left a small colony on the bases as he stranded seven runners on base while going 0-for-5. Alvarez had the chance to really get the team back into it in the seventh inning. With the bases loaded and two outs but he struck out when lefty specialist Will Smith came in to shut the door. It sucked.

Charlie Morton looked really good for the first three innings of the game. A pretty good Brewers lineup wasn't getting much done and Morton was cruising. He hit the speed bump in the fourth inning giving up the lead with three runs on three hits then gave up insurance runs in each of the next two innings. All told he went six innings giving up eight hits and five runs.

Stolmy Pimentel actually came in and did a pretty nice job in two innings of relief. The Brewers got one hit off him and also walked once. Pimentel is interesting because I really don't think he is all that healthy. He was consistently in the mid-90s early in the season but the last two outings he is barely touching 90. I am not sure what it is and I thought he might have been sat down after his last outing when his velo was way down but it was the same story last night. He was still effective so it wasn't like he was being thrown to the wolves but I am interested to hear what the deal is.

The was just one of those games where it was really unfortunate that the Pirates couldn't take advantage of the Brewers stumbling all over themselves. Milwaukee committed four errors and at times it didn't look like they had a clue what they were doing. The Pirates did a nice job setting the table but it seemed like each and every time they did they just couldn't get that one hit. They left 11 guys on base and while Alvarez was a big part of that it was really disappointing that the Pirates were only able to squeeze out three runs.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pirates Trade For Ike Davis


Initial thoughts are that this is a nice deal. Davis should do pretty well in a platoon with Gaby Sanchez. The PTBNL later is interesting. 

More later. Maybe. 

Pirates Game 17 Preview - vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Kyle Lohse (2-1, 3.05) vs. Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.32)

Season Series (Milwaukee leads 3-1)
April 11, 2014 - Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]
April 12, 2014 - Milwaukee 3, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]
April 13, 2014 - Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 1
April 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 11, Milwaukee 2 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (8-8)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Walker 4
6. G Sanchez 3
7. Tabata 9
8. Mercer 6
9. Morton 1

Milwaukee (11-5)
1. Gomez 8
2. Segura 6
3. Braun 9
4. Ramirez 5
5. Davis 7
6. Reynolds 3
7. Gennett 4
8. Maldonado 2
9. Lohse 1

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pirates Game 16 Recap - Pirates 11, Brewers 2

This game was a lot closer than the score in the headline will indicate. The Pirates and Brewers were actually tied for much of the game before the Pirates scored three runs in the seventh inning and six runs in the eighth inning to really put this game way out of reach.

Edison Volquez was masterful, yet again, and the Pirates did just enough to get Yovani Gallardo out of the game after only six innings while he threw 114 pitches. Gallardo actually didn't pitch all that bad as he only gave up two run on three hits but the Pirates did a nice job by taking four walks and really making him work despite not really doing a ton on offense. Once the Pirates got to the Brewers bullpen things fell apart pretty fast for them.

Volquez is the best starting pitcher through the first three weeks of the season. I will let you reread that sentence if you need to and let it sink it. That is the reality of the situation. That isn't even saying things are bad, Charlie Morton has done a pretty decent job and while Gerrit Cole has been up and down he has been mostly good but what Volquez has been that good. The big knock on him coming into the season was that he didn't throw enough strikes. Tonight he threw 77 pitches and 53 of those went for strikes. That is...really good. He actually could have went deeper into the game but with the score 2-2 and a runner on first I guess Clint Hurdle thought pinch hitting Josh Harrison and having him try to bunt was a better idea (more on this later). Volquez only walked one and gave up eight hits which is a little less than ideal but he just got the job done and that is awesome from a guy I thought was going to be fairly awful before the season.

The Pirates offense struggled a bit against Gallardo but he's pretty good. As much fun as it would be to bash the Pirates offense early they really did a nice job of forcing the Brewers hand and getting into their bullpen early. The Pirates mashed that pen. Before they did that they actually got to Gallardo for a pair of runs that came in the bottom of the first when Andrew McCutchen went deep to centerfield on a middle-middle fastball. It was his first of the season and it was beautiful.

Anyways, the Brewers went with Rob Wooten and the Pirates were all over him. He recorded only one out and gave up three runs on three hits and also walked a guy. The key hit was a pinch hit two run bomb from Harrison that was probably done by mistake. Let me explain...

In the top of the seventh inning the Brewers had a man on first base with nobody out and they pinch hit for Gallardo. OK, nothing wrong with that, something they were going to have to do with him already having 114 pitches and the game being tied. Problem is they sent up a position player to pinch hit, and asked him to bunt. He (Logan Schafer) actually struck out trying to bunt. I actually said to myself before this happened "wow, this is a great way to not score runs" and they didn't score a run.

So the very next inning Jordy Mercer led off with single and Hurdle went with Harrison. I immediately knew what was going to happen. Pinch bunter. Not only is this an awful idea form a tactical standpoint but Harrison is a pretty horrid bunter. If you are going to pinch hit to bunt why do you not use someone like Morton or Cole to do so? Why burn a position player to essentially give himself up? To the shock of nobody Harrison couldn't get a bunt down in two attempts. Shockingly (to me) he was able to swing with two strikes and he hit a home run. I know it might seem like it is impossible for pinch hitters to, you know, hit, but it did happen. A rally killing home run without the aid of a bunt gave the Pirates the lead for good. Clint, stop doing stupid shit like this.

Anyways, the Pirates got another run in the inning and then the Brewers brought in former Pirates prospect Wei-Chung Wang, who the Brewers took from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft, and he got rocked. In the ninth he gave up six runs on six hits and gave up home runs to Gaby Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez. The Brewers are trying to keep Wang on the rester the entire year to keep him and not have to return him to the Pirates but I can't imagine they will be able to do this much longer.

What was nice about the offense tonight was that they collected 12 hits and 11 runs but also walked six times while striking out only seven times. Almost universally when you have the same number of walks as you do strikeouts you are going to be doing something right. The Pirates did that today. I know you will say that they got a lot of this off a Rule 5 guy but they were having some good plate appearances against Gallardo and he's been really good this year.

The top four hitters in the Pirates lineup had seven hits. That will do. Travis Snider and Neil Walker were the only position players that played that didn't have a hit.

The Pirates won. That is fun. Yay winning.