Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pirates Game 55 Preview - @ Los Angeles Dodgers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers - 7:15 p.m.
Brandon Cumpton (0-1, 3.38) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-2, 3.10)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-0)
May 29, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Los Angeles 3
May 30, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, Los Angeles 1 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (25-29)
1. Harrison 3B
2. Walker 2B
3. McCutchen CF
4. Sanchez 1B
5. Marte LF
6. Tabata RF
7. Mercer SS
8. Stewart C
9. Cumpton P

Los Angeles (29-27)
1. Gordon 2B
2. Ethier CF
3. Puig RF
4. Ramirez SS
5. Gonzalez 1B
6. Kemp LF
7. Turner 3B
8. Butera C
9. Ryu P

Pirates Game 54 Recap - Pirates 2, Dodgers 1

After two really bad losses to the Mets, a team that sucks, the Pirates went out West to play against a pretty damn good Dodgers team. Most, myself including, probably would have only expected maybe one win out of the series but the Pirates have come out and played some really good baseball and took the first two games, including last nights 2-1 win.

Nothing special about the game overall but the Pirates just played a good baseball game. Francisco Liriano danced around the rain drops with not his best stuff and the offense only mustered up six hits but two of the hits counted as run scoring ones and the bullpen was good enough to close up shop.

What might have been the iconic moment of the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Pirates were up 2-0 and the Dodgers had the bases loaded with two outs. Chone Figgons walked to load the bases and brought up Yasiel Puig. I am not going to lie I was slightly terrified at how this inning was going to end up. Liriano got behind 2-0 with two breaking balls. Instead of going with the fastball to get a strike he threw another breaking ball and then another and then another and got Puig to pop out to second. With a 2-0 count and the sacks full that took some balls by Liriano to spin another pitch, but it worked. Huge moment in the game.

Ike Davis continues to be hot. He has been really good since he came over in the trade and is hitting .292/.380/.425 and last night he homered to give the Pirates what turned out to be the game winning run. First base was supposed to be a huge problem at the beginning of the season but between Davis and Gaby Sanchez the Pirates have been really good from that spot.

I don't think we are ever going to see the Jason Grilli that we got last year before the injury but he has bounced back pretty well. He got the save last night. When he is pitching well it gives the Pirates the opportunity to really lock down the backend of the game again. I know this, you give me Justin Wilson, Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Grilli in that order and I will take my chances. Sure, Melancon gave up a run last night but he's been pretty damn good. I like those run of names a lot.

Tonight the Pirates face Hyun-Jin Ryu who is pretty good. This is the third of a four game set and a win here would be very big.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pirates Game 54 Preview - @ Los Angeles Dodgers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers - 10:10 p.m.
Francisco Liriano (0-5, 5.06) vs. Josh Beckett (3-1, 2.43)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 1-0)
May 29, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, Los Angeles 3


Lineups

Pittsburgh (24-29)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Davis 3
5. Martin 2
6. Alvarez 5
7. Marte 7
8. Barmes 6
9. Liriano 1

Los Angeles (29-26)
1. Gordon 4
2. Figgins 5
3. Puig 9
4. Ramirez 6
5. Kemp 7
6. Van Slyke 3
7. Ethier 8
8. Butera 2
9. Beckett 1

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pirates Game 53 Preview - @ Los Angeles Dodgers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers - 10:10 p.m.
Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.76) vs. Dan Haren (5-3, 3.16)


Lineups

Pittsburgh (23-29)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Davis 3
5. Martin 2
6. Alvarez 5
7. Marte 7
8. Barmes 6
9. Cole 1

Los Angeles (29-25)
1. Gordon 4
2. Ethier 8
3. Puig 9
4. Ramirez 6
5. Gonzalez 3
6. Kemp 7
7. Turner 5
8. Federowicz 2
9. Haren 1

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pirates Game 52 Recap - Mets 5, Pirates 0

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, this was a tough game to watch. When the Pirates pitchers weren't walking hitters the defense was throwing the ball all around the infield. When the offense had some guys on base they weren't getting hits. They left eight guys on and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Just brutal.

Charlie Morton is wildly frustrating. I want him to be good but he is making it so hard for me to think that he can be. For almost the entire year it has been one inning. Today it was more of a whole game thing. His line isn't going to look terrible but he was in trouble the entire game. He walked four hitters in less than six innings of work and gave up four hits. The four hits aren't bad but when you put four guys on base for free and throw two wild pitches you aren't going to do very well.

The defense has been atrocious. Two more errors today and both of them came on the same play that cost the Pirates a run. Pedro Alvarez continues to struggle defensively as he threw another ball away. Somehow the ball came straight back to Neil Walker who threw to Jordy Mercer who couldn't catch the ball and it bounced into centerfield. So instead of a groundout it turns into a guy on third base.

Overall the Pirates walked eight hitters in the game. You can't do that and expect to win. It's not like the Mets were really running away with this game either, that is what makes it so hard to deal with. The Mets had two errors and Lucas Duda looked like he never scooped a ball at first base in his life. Too bad the Pirates couldn't do anything.

After a really good home stand the Pirates needed to win at least two games off the Mets. The Mets are not a good team but that same Mets team just took two-of-three from the Pirates and now have a better record than them. Bad times.

Pirates Game 52 Preview - @ New York Mets

Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets - 1:10 p.m.
Charlie Morton (1-6, 3.29) vs. Bartolo Colon (3-5, 5.34)

Season Series (Tied 1-1)
May 26, 2014 - Pittsburgh 5, New York 3
May 27, 2014 - New York 4, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (23-28)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Davis 3
5. Marte 7
6. Alvarez 5
7. Mercer 6
8. Stewart 2
9. Morton 1

New York (23-28)
1. Lagares 8
2. Murphy 4
3. Wright 5
4. Granderson 9
5. C Young 7
6. Duda 3
7. Tejada 6
8. Centeno 2
9. Colon 1

Pirates Game 51 Recap - New York 4, Pittsburgh 2

This game kinda sucked. Despite not throwing very well Edison Volquez gave up only two runs and kept the Pirates in the game long enough for them to tie it. Then Jeanmar Gomez came in and faced four batters and he got one of them out. After the Pirates got two runs to tie it in the top of the inning Gomez gave them right back in the bottom half.

That is about how this game went.

The Pirates actually had some opportunities later in the game. In the eighth inning, down two, the Pirates had runners on first and third with only one out. Pedro Alvarez pinch hit for Justin Wilson and after swinging through a couple of breaking balled bounced a tailor made double play ball back up the middle. The Pirates got the tying run on base in the ninth but couldn't do anything.

Maybe the best part of the game was before the game even started. Here is the first pitch by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson:



(via)

Maybe the best part of that isn't the horrid throw but that the camera man who almost gets hit with the ball doesn't even flinch. Like he doesn't even pull his camera down. That is a true pro.

Hopefully the Pirates can pull one out today. They play in literally like three minutes. Yay late recaps!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pirates Game 51 Preview - @ New York Mets

Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets - 7:10 p.m.
Edinson Volquez (2-4, 4.37) vs. Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.70)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 1-0)
May 26, 2014 - Pittsburgh 5, New York 3


Lineups

Pittsburgh (23-27)
1. Harrison 5
2. Tabata 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Sanchez 3
5. Martin 2
6. Marte 7
7. Walker 4
8. Barmes 6
9. Volquez 1

New York (22-28)
1. Lagares 8
2. Murphy 4
3. Wright 5
4. Granderson 7
5. Abreu 9
6. Duda 3
7. Recker 2
8. Tejada 6
9. Niese 1

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pirates Game 47 Preview - vs. Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Jordan Zimmermann (3-1, 3.70) vs. Charlie Morton (0-6, 3.45)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 1-0)
May 22, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, Washington 1 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (20-26)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Davis 3
5. Martin 2
6. Alvarez 5
7. Marte 7
8. Barmes 6
9. Morton 1

Washington (24-23)
1. Span 8
2. Rendon 4
3. Werth 9
4. Ramos 2
5. Desmond 6
6. Dobbs 3
7. Walters 5
8. McLouth 7
9. Zimmermann 1

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pirates Game 46 Recap - Pirates 3, Nationals 1

The Pirates won a normal baseball game. For much of this season when they win it hasn't been pretty (not that it needs to be) but tonight was just a run of the mill baseball game that the Pirates came out on top. Yay winning!

Edison Volquez was pretty good tonight. Actually he gave up only one run in six innings and after the fiasco last night that was Wandy Rodriguez the Pirates needed a strong start from Volquez. Heading into the game he has been pretty awful recently. In his past four starts before tonight Volquez pitched 21.2 innings and gave up eight home runs, 20 runs, 24 hits, and opposing hitters had a .970 OPS. That is not good. I am not going to say that I was as worried about Volquez as I was about Rodriguez but it was starting to get to the point where another bad outing from Volquez and you could legitimately see him not make his next start. Tonight he showed up.

He did have his problems as he walked the pitcher (again) and gave up another home run but for the most part he gave the Pirates a really solid start. For as good as the Pirates offense has been in the month of May (they have been REAL good) you can't expect them to score six runs every single night. The starters need to go deeper into games and they need to give the Pirates offense the opportunity to win the game with only a few runs. Volquez did that and it was huge.

On the flip side the Pirates did a nice job of getting to the National bullpen. This is the first game of a four game set and if you can start in game one by getting the starter out before the sixth inning then you are giving yourself a chance to be successful. The Pirates didn't do a ton against starter Blake Treinen but they were patient and they got some clutch hits.

Treinen threw 102 pitches in 5.2 innings and while he only gave up four hits and two runs he walked five Pirates hitters and those walks led to runs. Exactly what needs to happen. The offense might not be beating the ball all over the field but when you get free passes you make the opposing pitcher pay. This helped the Pirates score their first run. With two outs in the third inning Volquez drew a walk and then moved to second on a Josh Harrison single. Neil Walked followed by walking to load the bases before Andrew McCutchen got hit by the first pitch of his at bat to plate a run. Again, no flashy but the Pirates were patient and made Washington pay. That is good offense.

I talked about him last night, but Harrison has been a man on fire for the Pirates. Outside of McCutchen he might be the best player for the Pirates in the month. He was involved in probably the two biggest plays of the night and was a huge factor overall. With the score tied at one in the fifth inning Harrison started off with a single and then moved to second on a warning track flyout by Walker. You don't see guys tag from first too often but Harrison did an unreal job of reading the outfielder and tagging and beating the throw easily to second. McCutchen then came up and singled up the middle and Harrison scored easily. Move up 90 feet was the difference in scoring a run. He then made a diving catch in right center field the next half inning on the leadoff hitter. It was only a one run game and if he doesn't get to that ball it's either a double or triple. It was much like the catch he made against the Yankees the other day, but better. It got him a near standing o from the Pirates faithful at PNC Park and it probably saved the game from being tied. He also chipped in a run scoring single to give the Pirates an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Ho hum.

I still don't think Harrison is overly good but right now he can't do any wrong. With how Jose Tabata and Travis Snider have been playing I don't think there is any reason that Harrison shouldn't be out in right field almost every day. At this point it is a no-brainer.

A guy who is really struggling is Pedro Alvarez. I mean his stats are bad but he has been putting some good swings on the ball but when there are runners on base he has just been awful. This is a pretty telling stat from Dave Manel:



This is not what you want from your fourth hitter. Actually it doesn't really matter what position he is hitting in but with as much as McCutchen, Walker, and most recently Harrison has got on base this year you need to have someone drive them in sometimes. Pedro hasn't been driving them in at all. Sure, he has cut down his strikeout rate a ton (21.2%) and has nearly a 100 point difference from his batting average to his on base percentage (career 74 point difference) but his slugging percentage is sitting at only .373. I don't think it will be that low all season as I think some of these more balls he is putting in play will go for hits but it can be brutal to watch him with runners on base.

The rest of the game was pretty normal. I think I have gotten to the point where I expect the Pirates to play some ridiculous games and for the most part I am proved right. Well, tonight was a case of the team getting a good effort from their starter and scoring some runs in different ways to win a game. While it is fun to see weird stuff happen wins like tonight are pretty fun too.

Pirates Game 46 Preview - vs. Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Blake Treinen (0-1, 0.77) vs. Edinson Volquez (1-4, 4.71)


Lineups

Pittsburgh (19-26)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Marte 7
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. Stewart 2
9. Volquez 1

Washington (24-22)
1. Span 8
2. Rendon 5
3. Werth 9
4. Ramos 2
5. Desmond 6
6. Moore 3
7. Espinosa 4
8. McLouth 7
9. Treinen 1

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pirates Game 45 Recap - Pirates 9, Orioles 8

I think I have completely quit on trying to figure out the Pirates. Tonight was one of those games where I would pull my hair out trying to figure something out but at the end of the night I just lean back, opening up to write, and just be happy that they won. That was tonight. Happy they won.

It wasn't easy. For the second time this season the Pirates got to Chris Tillman in the first inning. Last time around he threw 40 pitches in the first inning and this time around he threw nearly as many. I am not sure how many exactly but it was like 35 pitches. The Pirates scored four runs in the first inning and then four more in the second inning. Eight runs for the Pirates in two innings. Tillman was out after only 1+ inning and you might have thought this was a breeze. Oh, no it wasn't.

Wandy Rodriguez was on the bump for the Pirates and after throwing up a goose egg in the top of the first he gave up a six spot in the top of the second inning. It was ugly. Rodriguez actually didn't make it out of the 1.2 innings giving up seven hits and six runs. Thanks to the fact that errors are dumb and stupid Rodriguez was only charged with one earned run. So he gave up six runs (SIX) and his ERA went down.

Anyways, the Pirates offense came to play today and the bullpen also came to play and the Pirates won. After the implosion that is Wandy Rodriguez left the mound the bullpen 7.1 innings and gave up two runs. Sure, Bryan Morris was pretty bad but Vin Mazzaro, Justin Wilson, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon were great. Exactly what the Pirates needed.

Mazzaro was especially good going 3.1 innings of near perfect baseball. He didn't give up a hit and only walked two batters. The bleeding was significant when he came in and he stopped the bleeding and was the best arm out of the pen tonight.

The Pirates have been pretty bad with runners in scoring position but tonight they went 8-for-14 in those situations. They left only six guys on base all game and with as many guys as they got on base, especially early, it is pretty good they drove a lot of those guys in.

The middle of the order was just cash money today. Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte, and Ike Davis went a combined 11-for-19 and scored six of those runs. Actually outside of those four only one other player had a hit. That player was Tony Sanchez and that hit was the go ahead single.

A guy that needs to get a little more respect than he has got (especially from me) is Josh Harrison. I have always been a little bullish on Harrison because, well, he isn't that good. That really isn't all that true this year. He has been exactly what the team needs in the leadoff spot and despite not being a good outfielder he has held his own. He actually made a beautifully perfect throw late that cut down what would have been the go ahead run. He didn't have a hit tonight but in his first two at bats he drew walks and scored both times. Props to Jay Hay.

Winning is more fun than losing. Just in case you guys weren't clear on that.

Pirates Game 45 Preview - vs. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Chris Tillman (4-2, 3.34) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (0-2, 6.84)

Season Series (Baltimore leads 3-0)
May 1, 2014 - Baltimore 5, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]
May 1, 2014 - Baltimore 6, Pittsburgh 5
May 20, 2014 - Baltimore 9, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (18-26)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Marte 7
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. T. Sanchez 2
9. Rodriguez 1

Baltimore (23-20)
1. Markakis 9
2. Machado 5
3. Jones 8
4. Davis 3
5. Cruz 7
6. Hardy 6
7. Schoop 4
8. Joseph 2
9. Tillman 1

Jon Stewart goes off on Philadelphia...and it's hilarious

Being from Pittsburgh you don't typically like anything from Philadelphia. Last night on the Daily Show Jon Stewart took a large portion of his second segment to go on a hilarious tirade of the city of Philadelphia.

This all started form a segment called "Human Extinction Watch" where he focuses on how Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg got food poisoning from a burger at Shake Shack. Shake Shack is a big name in New York city and it is hilarious to watch Stewart go on his rants when people bash things about New York (i.e. the time he went off on Chicago style pizza). This doesn't really involve Pittsburgh at all, but I think we can agree this is pretty awesome.

It does actually kind of reference Pittsburgh when Stewart starts the rant with this:

"I'll tell you what's happening here. A great New York restaurant is being slandered by some jagoff from Philadelphia."

Gold.

The portion that I am talking about starts at the 4:10 mark (the whole segment is actually really good).


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pirates Game 44 Recap - Orioles 9, Pirates 2

This was a game that look good for the Pirates for all of three innings. They had a 1-0 lead on an Andrew McCutchen single and Francisco Liriano looked pretty good.

Then the rest of the game happened.

The Orioles scored six runs over the next two innings and that was it. Liriano sucked and Chris Davis went deep once twice three times.

How good have things been recently for Liriano? This good:



Yikes.

The Pirates had some base runners as they had 10 hits but they grounded into three double plays and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. With the game still close Pedro Alvarez had a few chances with runners on and did exactly nothing.

As you can tell I am frustrated. This game was over in the fifth inning but I continued to watch. I don't know why. Maybe I am a masochist.

Pirates Game 44 Preview - vs. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Miguel Gonzalez (1-3, 4.76) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-3, 4.25)

Season Series (Baltimore leads 2-0)
May 1, 2014 - Baltimore 5, Pittsburgh 1 [Recap]
May 1, 2014 - Baltimore 6, Pittsburgh 5


Lineups

Pittsburgh (18-25)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Marte 7
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. Stewart 2
9. Liriano 1

Baltimore (22-20)
1. Markakis 9
2. Machado 5
3. Jones 8
4. Davis 3
5. Cruz 7
6. Hardy 6
7. Schoop 4
8. Joseph 2
9. Gonzalez 1

Friday, May 16, 2014

Pirates/Yankees Postponed

Pirates Game 40 Recap - Brewers 4, Pirates 3

This was a pretty tough one to swallow. Going into the game I didn't really have that much faith that the Pirates were going to win since Wandy Rodriguez was coming back from the DL and Miller Park is pretty much the worst park for him to pitch in.

In a pretty shocking turn Rodriguez pitched pretty well as he went five innings giving up two runs on four hits and striking out four. He did give up two runs but this is way more than I expected. Before going on the DL Rodriguez didn't look all that good His vela was way down and nothing was working. Yesterday he looked a lot better as he was averaging 90 with his fastball and was locating his pitches pretty well. The two home runs suck but in that ballpark that is about the status quo. Hopefully this means better things ahead for Rodriguez, because they couldn't have got much worse from earlier this year.

The pen was outstanding. OK, let me rephrase that Justin Wilson and Tony Watson were amazing. With Rodriguez going only five innings the Pirates needed some big time coverage. All Wilson did was come in and throw two perfect innings while striking out the last four batters he faced. Watson came in and gave up only a single hit in an inning of work while striking out two. The Pirates needed this in a huge way.

It all came to an end in the ninth inning. Mark Melancon had walked only one hitter all season and he gave up a base hit to start the inning and then walked the next two batters. With the bases loaded and no outs he gave up a single to Khris Davis and that was all she wrote.

After the game a lot of people were using hindsight to say that Melancon shouldn't have been in the game. I have zero problem with Melancon being in the game. I do have a problem with the 'closer' idea in baseball but MM pitching there wasn't nearly as big of a deal as a lot of people made it out to be. Maybe Watson should have been the one back out there but there is zero way to predict that Melancon would be that bad. It seems like a "shit happens" kind of game for him and it just sucks it happened now. I am not saying that Melancon is the best guy for the closers role but having him in after Wilson and Watson covered three innings is not a big deal. At all.

The offense got only three hits but they did just enough against Yovani Gallardo. Tony Sanchez hit a two run bomb in the fifth inning to take the lead and after Milwaukee tied it Gaby Sanchez went deep. Not the two guys you thought would be leading the offense but sometimes that is what you need.

Winning this series wouldn't have been huge. They didn't do that and are now further back in the standings. That sucks.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pirates Game 40 Preview - @ Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers - 1:10 p.m.
Wandy Rodriguez (0-2, 7.65) vs. Yovani Gallardo (2-2, 2.92)

Season Series (Milwaukee leads 7-2)
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]
April 19, 2014 - Milwaukee 8, Pittsburgh 7
April 20, 2014 - Milwaukee 3, Pittsburgh 2
May 13, 2014 - Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]
May 14, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, Milwaukee 1 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (17-22)
1. Snider 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. G. Sanchez 3
6. Mercer 6
7. Tabata 7
8. T. Sanchez 2
9. Rodriguez 1

Milwaukee (25-15)
1. Weeks 4
2. Segura 6
3. Braun 9
4. Lucroy 3
5. Reynolds 5
6. Davis 7
7. Maldonado 2
8. Schafer 8
9. Gallardo 1

Pirates Game 39 Recap - Pirates 4, Brewers 1

This was a good baseball game from the Pirates. They got good pitching from both Francisco Liriano and the bullpen and they got some timely hitting off of one of the best closers in the game when the game was tied in the ninth inning. They beat the Brewers for only the second time this season in nine tries and they did so in a place where they have had some horrible luck. This was a good win and saying 'Raise it' on Twitter was a lot of fun.

Liriano hasn't been overly good this season. Sure, the home opener was good with the 12 (or however many) strikeouts he had but he still hasn't looked overly good in any facet. Much like the rest of the pitching staff it seems to be that he toys with that line and then one inning gets the best of him. Last night was probably his best start of the season. He went six innings (on 87 pitches) and gave up only one run on four hits and struck out seven. His slider was filthy last night and while he was able to get the seining strikeouts on that the first time through he got it on the change up the next time through the lineup. When he can get both of those pitches working he is a tough pitcher to face. He averaged just better than 93 with his fastball and got 19 swings and misses. That is some good stuff.

The bottom of the lineup has been hitting the ball pretty well recently and they are actually the ones that won the game for the Pirates last night. Going into the ninth inning the game was all tied at one and Francisco Rodriguez was coming in. He had given up one run on nine hits for the entire season coming in (21 innings). The Pirates got three runs on four hits off him. Just great stuff.

With one out Ike Davis singled to right followed by a single up the middle by Jordy Mercer. Both of those guys have been pretty on fire in the month of May and it can't come any sooner. Not that Davis has been bad but with how the Pirates were struggling to get anything from the big portion of the platoon I think his production this month is what we probably could have expected out of Travis Ishikawa for an entire year. Mercer was bound to breakout. I mean I am not as high on him as many but there is no way that he was as bad as he was playing.

Anyways, after those hits Clint Hurdle made an interesting decision. Gaby Sanchez had already been used earlier in the game as a pinch hitter so there was no first baseman left on the roster. Hurdle sent out Clint Barmes to run for Davis, therefore making Barmes the first baseman. I am not sure if I make that move but it worked out. Props to Hurdle here for making that call.

Chris Stewart has been doing a bit more of the catching recently because of Hurdle's "gut" so he came up with a chance to get the win and all he did was take an outside fastball and lace it back up the middle. Barmes scored in time (where Davis probably wouldn't have) and the Pirates had the lead. Starling Marte, playing as a replacement, then doubled to deep center to score Mercer and Stewart and that was all she wrote.

The Marte situation is weird. Before last night he hadn't played since Sunday and before the game Hurdle said that Marte tried hitting off the tee and it "didn't go well". So in my eyes the Pirates were keeping a player on the bench to not play and essentially playing down a man. I thought for sure with that news that Marte was going to be DL'd and I was going to be pissed when the Pirates waited 12 days to put him on the 15 day DL. I am not sure what happened between earlier in the day and his at bats but that double was huge and I assume this means that he is ready to return to action.

A real balanced offensive attack from the Pirates. They had 11 hits and every single starter besides Jose Tabata (including Liriano) had at least one hit. Actually Pedro Alvarez and Davis were the only two Pirates with two hits. While Tabata didn't have a hit he is seining the bat just as well as Davis and Mercer so when I say that he didn't have a hit I wouldn't take that as him having a bad day at the plate.

Some games you are going to have one or two guys win you the ballgame. Some games you are going to get everyone into the act. The Pirates were the latter there and it was good to see.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pirates Game 39 Preview - @ Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers - 8:10 p.m.
Francisco Liriano (0-3, 4.64) vs. Wily Peralta (4-2, 2.17)

Season Series (Milwaukee leads 7-1)
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]
April 19, 2014 - Milwaukee 8, Pittsburgh 7
April 20, 2014 - Milwaukee 3, Pittsburgh 2
May 13, 2014 - Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 2 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (16-22)
1. Snider 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Tabata 7
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. Stewart 2
9. Liriano 1

Milwaukee (25-14)
1. Herrera 8
2. Weeks 4
3. Braun 9
4. Lucroy 2
5. Reynolds 3
6. Davis 7
7. Segura 6
8. Bianchi 5
9. Peralta 1

Pirates Game 38 Recap - Brewers 5, Pirates 2

This was one of those typical games in Milwaukee. The Pirates weren't overly bad but they weren't good and what was once a close game became more of a runaway thanks to some weird bounces of the ball. The Pirates have won their last three series and really got people feeling a little better about the team after a brutal April but since then they have lost their last two and last night just gave you that hapless feeling. It sucked.

Gerrit Cole was pretty inconsistent last night. He wasn't bad as he only gave up only three runs on seven hits but he didn't make it thought six innings. He went through spurts of looking dominant and then had spurts where he didn't look like he could locate his pitches at all. That came back to bite him in the third inning when he loaded the bases and then gave up a single to Jonathan Lucroy. What was frustrating about this was that it was hit to right field where Josh Harrison was playing. Now, Harrison was literally almost playing on the warning track in "no doubles" defense with two outs and the bases loaded. He took a pretty bad route to the ball and in fell in front. The Pirates went behind and the Pirates never came back.

I really don't understand why they were in no doubles defense. It was the third inning. The ball that was hit should have been a routine out but instead it was a run scoring single. On top of that Harrison is not an outfielder. I know it has been fun to put infielders in the outfield but with other, you know outfielders, on the team maybe they should play the outfield. This is probably a little over the top since Harrison has been hitting fairly well but playing him in the outfield is a bad idea. It probably cost the Pirates at least a run last night if not both.

It was actually a 3-1 game going into the seventh when Jared Hughes came in. Then things fell apart. In the seventh inning a ball went back up the middle with one out that was a tailor made double play ball. Hughes decides to try and field it and the Pirates barely get an out. The next batter hits a ball off Hughes' food that goes into right field. All told two runs score and it was 5-1 and the game was over.

The Pirates offense got a pair of hits from both Harrison and Jordy Mercer while Jose Tabata had three hits. The Pirates had their chances with runnings in scoring position in many innings but just too many times they came up short. Besides the hits by those three guys the Pirates had a solo home run by Neil Walker and a run scoring double from Gaby Sanchez when the game was probably over.

A series win is looking tougher and tougher. Wandy Rodriguez is scheduled to start on Thursday which is pretty much setting him up for failure. I hope I am wrong, but I am probably not.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Penguins ECSF Game 7 Recap - Rangers 2, Penguins 1

Well that kinda sucked, huh? The Penguins were up in the series 3-1 and at that point it really didn't look like the Rangers belonged in the playoffs. Oh how the times have changed. I guess when you think about it the result shouldn't be all that shocking. I don't mean that in the fact that the Penguins have flamed out in the second round or earlier in many playoff seasons since their 2009 Stanley Cup but that this is how the playoffs are. The Rangers beat the Penguins pretty easily in game one and then the Penguins came back and dominated games two through four. The Rangers then came back and dominated games five and six before winning game seven.

I don't really think the Penguins played very bad hockey tonight. They came out strong and all it took was one awful series of events and they were down 1-0. They got the goal back in the second but then the Rangers took control of play after that. The Rangers got a power play and scored. The Penguins had a power play and didn't.

Henrik Lundqvist won this game, and the series. Even when the Rangers were losing he was rock solid. Before the Rangers finished off the Rangers I told one of my buddies that I wasn't sure I wanted the Penguins to face them because Lundqvist was that good. Tonight was that reason why. The Penguins brought it and Lundqvist was better.

I think it is wildly stupid for people to suggest that players "weren't trying" during this series. Even during games five and six. It's an easy thing to say with no basis. Sure they might seem disinterested but I would be willing to bet that all the guys on the ice, for both teams, care a shit ton more about the game than any fan does.

Just in case you were curious, Evgeni Malkin is not getting traded.

The real takeaway from this is that there is anticipation of big time changes for the Penguins. Dan Bylsma might not be back next year and whether you agree or disagree with that (I am not sure how I feel) we will probably see a new bench boss. For all the talent the Penguins have that they need to be better than this. I would expect to see some other changes but that will come later after the team is done doing whatever it does following the season.

Most seasons end in disappointment and this one is another one of those for the Penguins. Only one team is going to be happy at the end of the year and here is hoping that happens next year. Until then, Lets Go Bucs.

Pirates Game 38 Preview - @ Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers - 8:10 p.m.
Gerrit Cole (3-2, 3.64) vs. Marco Estrada (3-1, 3.53)

Season Series (Milwaukee leads 6-1)
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]
April 19, 2014 - Milwaukee 8, Pittsburgh 7
April 20, 2014 - Milwaukee 3, Pittsburgh 2


Lineups

Pittsburgh (16-21)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Tabata 7
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. Stewart 2
9. Cole 1

Milwaukee (24-14)
1. Gomez 8
2. Gennett 4
3. Braun 9
4. Lucroy 1
5. Reynolds 5
6. Overbay 3
7. Segura 6
8. Schafer 7
9. Estrada 1

Penguins ECSF Game 7 Preview - vs. New York Rangers

New York Rangers

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

The Last Penguins Game
May 11, 2014 - New York 3, Pittsburgh 1


Probables

Pittsburgh (7-5) (via Dailyfaceoff)

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

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

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

New York (7-6) (via Dailyfaceoff)

Forwards
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Chris Kreider
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Dan Carcillo

Defense
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Anton Stralman - Marc Staal
Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Goaltender
Henrik Lundqvist


Series (Tied 3-3)

May 11, 2014 - New York 3, Pittsburgh 1



May 9, 2014 - New York 5, Pittsburgh 1



May 7, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, New York 2 [Recap]



May 5, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, New York 0 [Recap]



May 4, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, New York 0 [Recap]



May 2, 2014 - New York 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)




Stats

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pirates Game 37 Preview - vs. St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates - 8:00 p.m.
Shelby Miller (4-2, 3.20) vs. Charlie Morton (0-4, 3.45)

Season Series (Pirates lead 5-3)
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
April 27, 2013 - St. Louis 7, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
May 9, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, St. Louis 4
May 10, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, St. Louis 3


Lineups

Pittsburgh (16-20)
1. Snider 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Tabata 7
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. T. Sanchez 2
9. Morton 1

St. Louis (18-19)
1. Carpenter 5
2. Peralta 6
3. Holliday 7
4. Craig 9
5. Molina 2
6. Adams 3
7. Jay 8
8. Ellis 4
9. Miller 1

Penguins ECSF Game 6 Preview - @ New York Rangers

New York Rangers

7:00 p.m., Madison Square Garden, New York, New York


The Last Penguins Game:
May 9, 2014 - New York 5, Pittsburgh 1


Probables

Pittsburgh (7-3) (via Penguins website)

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

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

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

New York (5-6) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Chris Kreider
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Dan Carcillo

Defense
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Anton Stralman - Marc Staal
Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Goaltender
Henrik Lundqvist


Series (Pittsburgh leads 3-2)

May 9, 2014 - New York 5, Pittsburgh 1



May 7, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, New York 2 [Recap]



May 5, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, New York 0 [Recap]



May 4, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, New York 0 [Recap]



May 2, 2014 - New York 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)




Stats


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pirates Game 36 Preview - vs. St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Lance Lynn (4-1, 3.51) vs. Edinson Volquez (1-3, 4.19)

Season Series (Pirates lead 4-3)
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
April 27, 2013 - St. Louis 7, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
May 9, 2014 - Pittsburgh 6, St. Louis 4


Lineups

Pittsburgh (15-20)
1. Tabata 7
2. Harrison 9
3. Walker 4
4. Alvarez 5
5. Marte 8
6. Davis 3
7. Sanchez 2
8. Mercer 6
9. Volquez 1

St. Louis (18-18)
1. Carpenter 5
2. Peralta 6
3. Holliday 7
4. Craig 9
5. Adams 3
6. Ellis 4
7. Bourjos 8
8. Cruz 2
9. Lynn 1

Friday, May 9, 2014

Penguins ECSF Game 5 Preview - vs. New York Rangers

New York Rangers

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


The Last Penguins Game
May 7, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, New York 2 [Recap]


Probables

Pittsburgh (7-3) (via Penguins website)

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

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

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

New York (5-6) (via Dailyfaceoff)

Forwards
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Chris Kreider
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Dan Carcillo

Defense
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Anton Stralman - Marc Staal
Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Goaltender
Henrik Lundqvist


Series (Pittsburgh leads 3-1)

May 7, 2014 - Pittsburgh 4, New York 2 [Recap]



May 5, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, New York 0 [Recap]



May 4, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, New York 0 [Recap]



May 2, 2014 - New York 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)




Stats

Pirates Game 35 Preview - vs. St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Michael Wacha (2-3, 2.55) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-3, 4.54)

Season Series (Tied 3-3)
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
April 27, 2013 - St. Louis 7, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (14-20)
1. Tabata 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 6
5. Marte 7
6. Davis 3
7. Sanchez 8
8. Mercer 6
9. Liriano 9

St. Louis (18-17)
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. Wacha 1

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Penguins/Rangers Game 3 & 4 Mike Lange Goal Calls

Here are the goal calls from Mike Lange for both the game three and four wins. Big thanks to Benstonium for putting these together.

Game 3:






Game 4:



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Penguins ECSF Game 4 Recap - Penguins 4, Rangers 2

This was just a dominating game. The Penguins went into MSG and just put a beating on the Rangers for two games and now they have a chance to dispatch them at home in the CONSOL Energy Center in five games. Going into the series I thought a split would be a good way to come back home but the Penguins took two wins in convincing fashion.

This game was a bit closer than how I am describing. The Penguins got out to a lead first when Evgeni Malkin found the back of the net off a couple of good bounces only 2:31 into the game.



The Penguins went into the break with the 1-0 lead and there were some thoughts that the Rangers might never score again. Well, they did. They actually tied the score at one 5:30 into the second period and while it isn't unrealistic for a team to give up a goal I think you just kind of got used to the Penguins, and Marc-Andre Fleury, not giving up goals. There wasn't any more scoring for a while until the Rangers got a power play with just a few minutes left in the second period.

I know you are thinking "well Cory, you said the Rangers power play was awful, they actually scored a goal? No friend, they did not score a goal. Brandon Sutter scored a goal.



In the third period the Penguins got the big goal which came from Jussi Jokinen off a great forecheck from James Neal. Jokinen basically stopped on a time and turn the puck to his forehand and beat Henrik Lundqvist with about 13 minutes left. The game wasn't over, but the game was over. The Rangers got another goal with about six minutes left but Chris Kunitz and company ended it about a minute later.

Maybe the best part, and most underrated part of this game was how the Penguins responded to the two Rangers goals. On the first Rangers goal that tied the score the Penguins came back and dominated play, holding the puck in the Rangers zone for some time. It didn't create a goal but it almost seem like that goal woke them up a little bit more. Same thing on the Rangers second goal that made the deficit only one. The second time they salted the game away with a Kunitz goal. Just really fun stuff to watch and a vast difference from how the Penguins were playing earlier in the season. This looks like a whole new team.

The Rangers only got off 15 shots for the game. They had six in the first period, five in the second, and four in the third. It was a clinical performance by the Penguins. Malkin had 14 shot attempts by himself tonight. New York had only 38. I think the giveaway stat is pretty garbage because it is an arbitrary stat that is largely dependent of what a different person in each arena thinks. That being said the Rangers were charged with 25 giveaways tonight. That is a ton of giveaways. I mean the Penguins had eight and typically that is a decent bit but the Rangers had over three times as many. I have no idea how the Rangers even had the game this close. Just a ridiculously good job controlling play by the Penguins.

During the regular season the Penguins weren't an overly good possession team. I have said it here many times but the more you have the puck the better chance you have of scoring and the better chance you have of winning. Tonight the Penguins had a Corsi for of 63.5% and after the second period they were closer to 70%. That is some ridiculously good hockey and that has been the trend for the entire playoffs. During the regular season the Penguins were close to a 50% team and while that isn't terrible it sits more in the middle of the pack. Outside of one or two games in this playoffs the Penguins have had a pretty decisive margin of possession numbers in their favor. This is really good stuff.

Maybe lost in all this possession stuff is that while it helps you offensively to have the puck more it means that the other team has the puck less. Couple that with the fact that the Penguins have been playing some really good defensive hockey and you can see why the Rangers have only one goal in their last three games and while the Penguins are on the brink of moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The duo of Kris Letang and Paul Martin have been ridiculously good this series. Tonight they were the two best in terms of possession numbers (both over 70% Corsi) and while Letang is getting a goof portion of his zone starts in the offensive zone they have been doing a great job of breaking up Ranger rushes and not allowing pucks to get to MAF. Letang wasn't very good in his series against the Blue Jackets but since he has been teamed up with Martin he has been a monster. That probably speaks to how good Martin has been in this playoffs but those two together have been a lot of fun to watch.

You want to talk about dominating? Look at the Penguins first line. Dan Bylsma went with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz and the Rangers literally have no answer to them. A lot of the talk is that Ryan McDonagh is hurt (and he probably is) but that first line is making him look foolishly bad. That top line was the Penguins three best possession players and every single time they were on the ice the Penguins tilted the ice dramatically towards Lundqvist. Nothing illustrates this more than the Penguins fourth goal. Crosby was able to enter the zone and get the puck to Malkin who blew by McDonagh and drew Martin St. Louis towards him as he came around the net leaving Kunitz wide open.


Two players on Malkin, two on Crosby, and nobody near Kunitz. That might not be a problem if Kunitz wasn't wide open in front of the net. I realize that you have to keep your eye on Malkin and Crosby but at some point you have to take away the best chance to score and in that picture and on that play it was Kunitz in front of the net.

Speaking of St. Louis, has he played in this series? I mean I know he has, but man has he been awful.

There really isn't a lot to be upset about here. Everyone played a pretty outstanding game. Neal has been really good all series. I don't want to say that he is a soft player, because he is not, but during the year I never really saw him digging out pucks and doing what he has done today. The stick lift he had on Jokinen's goal was a thing of beauty and the type of thing you need to do. It was a Rangers giveaway that was probably more of a takeaway by Neal. Just a great play in what has been a great series for him.

You can talk about guys like Sutter, and Jokinen, and Joe Vitale, and Brian Gibbons, and on and on and on. The Penguins have been crazy good through four games and while the series isn't over yet if the Penguins play anything like this on Friday then this series is probably over. That is a good thing.

Other fun facts:



Pirates Game 34 Recap - Pirates 4, Giants 3

Things are getting weird. By weird I mean the Pirates went out and won a normal baseball game. No walk off manager challenges, no 10 home runs over two days in one game, no crazy plays, just a normal baseball game. For the second consecutive day the Pirates got eight innings from a starter and that starter did an outstanding job of holding a lead and now after 4-15 for a stretch the Pirates have won two series and went 4-2. That is a lot more fun.

Gerrit Cole was a lot better today than he has been for much of the season. He went a season-high 107 pitches and went eight innings, striking out seven and only walking one. The only guy who really got to Cole was Brandon Belt who launched a first inning Cole pitch to centerfield and then platted two runs with a double in the fifth inning. Outside of Belt the Giants had only five hits and four of those were singles. Cole threw 21-of-31 first pitch strikes and threw 68 of his pitches for strikes. That is some good pitching. Cole also got into the act with a base hit that led to a two run second inning and even dove head first into second on a wild pitch. It was actually funny watching Cole slide head first when there was zero reason to do so but at the same time I wish Cole wouldn't slide head first just for the hell of it. Nothing really good can come of it.

The Pirates offense got on the board early and was all over Tim Lincecum. Lincecum is far from the guy he used to be and early on he was having trouble keeping balls out of the middle of the zone. The Pirates took advantage. Belt's home run gave San Francisco the early 1-0 but the Pirates got it back with a leadoff hit from Travis Snider and an Andrew McCutchen double. Starling Marte continued to stay hot and doubled home McCutchen. That is how you respond.

The top of the lineup for the Pirates has been something that I can't really explain. They have went with guys that probably should be there but the trio of Josh Harrison, Travis Snider, and Jose Tabata have been doing a really nice job wince Marte got bumped down in the lineup. I don't think any of those three is a long term solution but today Snider had a pair of hits with a walk and knocked in a pair of runs with a single in the second inning. Snider was the starter for pretty much all of the offense today and it was good to see. I actually forgot that he was on the team there for the past week so it is good to see him come out hungry and show that he can give the Pirates something.

Marte has been really good since moving down in the lineup. In his last 10 games he has a hit in all but three of them and has had multiple hits in four games. He only has nine strikeouts in that span after striking out what seemed like every at bat before and he's making things happen. I have no idea if this is because of where he hits in the lineup but it is good to see.

Chris Stewart isn't all that good. With Russell Martin on the DL with an injury they needed Stewart to come in and pick up some games, especially since Tony Sanchez has had some troubles defensively this season. Today Stewart had a pair of hits and a walk and scored a run in the second. I will take that.

McCutchen had two hits. Ho hum.

Penguins ECSF Game 4 Preview - @ New York Rangers

New York Rangers

7:30 p.m., Madison Square Garden, New York, New York


The Last Penguins Game
May 5, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, New York 0 [Recap]


Probables

Pittsburgh (6-3) (via Penguins website)

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

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

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

New York (5-5) (via Dailyfaceoff)

Forwards
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Dan Carcillo
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett

Defense
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Anton Stralman - Marc Staal
John Moore - Kevin Klein

Goaltender
Henrik Lundqvist


Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-1)

May 5, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, New York 0 [Recap]



May 4, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, New York 0 [Recap]



May 2, 2014 - New York 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)




Stats

Pirates Game 34 Preview - vs. San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates - 12:35 p.m.
Tim Lincecum (2-1, 5.12) vs. Gerrit Cole (2-2, 3.83)

Season Series (Tied 1-1)
May 5, 2014 - San Francisco 11, Pittsburgh 10 (13 inn.) [Recap]
May 6, 2014 - Pittsburgh 2, San Francisco 1 [Recap]

Lineups

Pittsburgh (13-20)
1. Snider 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Marte 7
6. Davis 3
7. Mercer 6
8. Stewart 2
9. Cole 1

San Francisco (21-12)
1. Blanco 8
2. Pence 9
3. Belt 3
4. Morse 7
5. Sanchez 2
6. Crawford 6
7. Hicks 4
8. Arias 5
9. Lincecum 1

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pirates Game 33 Recap - Pirates 2, Giants 1

In what may be the first of the season, and ever, the Pirates won a game with a walk-off...managerial review. Yup, pretty awesome. Starling Marte tripled off the right field wall (thanks to a pretty awful play by Hunter Pence on what should have been just a double) and then the ball got away from third baseman Pablo Sandoval and after some hesitation Marte broke for home. He was initially called out but replayed showed that he got under the tag and it was a win. A Pirates win!

This was actually a pitchers dual between Tim Hudson and Charlie Morton. I know, right? After last night's game that featured 21 runs and 36 hits tonight's game featured three runs and 10 hits. So, kinda different. I will mostly focus on Morton, because who really cares about Tim Hudson (not this guy (/points at self)). For nearly every start this year it was the same thing with Morton. He would pitch well for four or five innings and then one bad inning and the game was over. Not tonight.

Tonight Morton went eight innings and was only the second Pirates pitcher this year to go eight innings (Gerrit Cole being the other). He was in control the entire time and while he only struck out three batters he gave up only three hits and walked two. We can talk about Morton as much as we want but at the end of the day this was just one start. He has been good in short spurts this year but has yet to put the full thing together. Tonight he did. The big key is going to be his next start. Hopefully this is something he can build on because words can't express how badly the Pirates needed a start like this from their starter. It was really a breath of fresh air.

The Pirate offense was largely held in check. When they did get guys on base (Andrew McCutchen leadoff single in the ninth) they weren't able to do anything with it (Pedro Alvarez grounds into double play) and when they weren't getting guys on base they were making outs.

Marte and Ike Davis had a pair of hits and McCutchen had the other. That was about it. But you know what, who cares. The Pirates won.


Pirates Game 33 Preview - vs. San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Tim Hudson (4-1, 2.17) vs. Charlie Morton (0-4, 4.21)


Season Series (San Francisco leads 1-0)
May 5, 2014 - San Francisco 11, Pittsburgh 10 (13 inn.) [Recap]


Lineups

Pittsburgh (12-20)
1. Harrison 9
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Marte 7
6. Davis 3
7. T. Sanchez 2
8. Mercer 6
9. Morton 1

San Francisco (21-11)
1. Pagan 8
2. Pence 9
3. Posey 2
4. Morse 7
5. Belt 3
6. Sandoval 5
7. Crawford 6
8. Adrianza 4
9. Hudson 1

Pirates Game 32 Recap - Giants 11, Pirates 10 (13 inn.)

Man, what an awful game. The Pirates built up a six run lead after five innings and gave it all away. Jeff Locke ran out of gas and the bullpen was awful. There is no two ways to talk about this game, the Pirates had the win and the pitching staff seemed like it was not happy getting a win and gave it away.

There was everything in this game. Pitcher pinch hitting, ducks on the field, errors, terrible decisions. It's almost like this was a broadway comedy of a recap of an entire baseball season. Nope, it wasn't that, this was one ballgame.

Locke was pretty awful in the first inning and then really good for the next three. The Pirates got a big lead and he was left out probably a little too long. The Giants scored seven runs in the sixth and seventh inning to come back and tie the game.

The funny part (I guess) is that the Pirates actually scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ike Davis scored on an infield single with two outs where he just ran through the stop sign. Literally, he didn't even look at where the ball was. He rounded third like there was a single into the outfield, only this ball didn't leave the infield.

Mark Melancon came on and blew a save. The Pirates and Giants tried to each lose the game in extra innings and in the end it was Jared Hughes throwing the ball away on a bunt that proved to be the winning run. No idea. Frustrating times.

The Pirates offense actually wasn't the problem tonight. They had 16 hits in only 49 at bats and had five extra base hits while going 4-of-15 with runners in scoring position. Sure a few more hits with RISP would have been nice but I can't really complain.

Unfortunately the Giants offense was able to tee off on the Pirates bullpen. The Giants had 20(!) hits and got nine of those hits from their top three batters.

Here is how the Pirates pitching staff shook out:


Woof. When your offense gets you 10 runs before you hit extra innings you have to win.

At least the Pirates were able to get the ducks off the field.