Tag Archives: Adam LaRoche

Pirates/Astros Recap

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Pirates 1 Astros 4

Pirates 6 Astros 3

Pirates 0 Astros 5

Wow.  The Bucs had quite the week while I was gone.  A couple of trades (Nyjer Morgan?  Wouldn’t have been my first guess of who was to go next).  So, as a result, what we saw go out in Game one was quite literally a AAA team.  We had 6 players in the starting lineup (including the pitcher) who were in AAA last year.  How you expect to win with a lineup like that is beyond me.  Seriously.  I almost decided to stop covering the Bucs in this blog because I only cover professional baseball.  But, I guess I have to work with what I got.  So here goes.

In that first game, the AAA Pirates couldn’t get going at all.  They managed only 4 hits for a team batting average of .138.  Ladies and gentlemen, the future of your Pittsburgh Pirates!  Man, I sure hope these guys are still in the middle of the growing process.  5 position players went hitless, and Steve Pearce narrowly avoided the golden sombrero (strike out 4 times in a game), but only because he only got 3 at bats to strike out in.  Just a game that made you want to stick your head in the sand and wait for Steelers training camp to start.

Game two was defined by 1 inning.  Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss rejoined the lineup to decrease the number of AAA players by 2.  It looked like the same old Pirates, though.  Our offense was in serious condition at the beginning of the season, and this week its been downgraded to critical condition.  The Pirates got 3 hits in the 7th inning and (aided by some very wild pitching) were able to put up 4 runs.  Now if we can just find a pitcher who can’t find the strike zone every game, we’ll be fine.  Dropping the 7th inning, however, we had 4 hits and 5 strike outs.  Not a good ratio at all.  Paul Maholm was on a bit of a skid and had an OK outing.  Not great.  Just OK.  Hopefully he can build on it, though.  We got away with one here.

Game three was just sad.  Wandy Rodriguez pitched a complete game 5 hit shutout against us.  Wandy.  Rodriguez.  Not a bad pitcher, but far from Cy Young.  Just embarrassing.  We struck out 11 times.  11 times!  Charlie Morton showed flashes of brilliance and flashes of stupidity.  He pitched a first pitch strike 8 times to 22 batters.  That number has to go up.  But he’s young.  Just overall not a good day for your International League All Stars Pirates.

So, for those playing at home, that means this series we had a grand total of 16 hits and 22 strike outs.  You read that stat right.  We had a combined average of .172.  I’ve seen a ton of bad baseball.  It comes with the territory of living in Pittsburgh.  But this series has got to be the absolute worst display of hitting I have ever seen.  The numbers are laughable.  Now, I realize that we’re EXTREMELY young after all of the trades (I was only half kidding about that International League All Stars crack), but an average of 5 hits per game is embarrassing.  I’m real frustrated right now, and it doesn’t look like its going to end soon.  On the contrary, the rest of the season looks like the longest 3 months of baseball we’ve ever seen around here…….and that’s saying something.

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Pirates/Indians Recap

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Pirates 4 Indians 5

Pirates 10 Indians 6

Pirates 3 Indians 2

So two of the worst teams in Major League Baseball come together, and we get an absolute barn burner.  Go figure.  It’s also been a big week in general for the Bucs personnel wise.  Lincoln and Alvarez  move up a level which was deserved on both ends from what I understand.  Ian Snell also got demoted this afternoon.  His idiotic comments notwithstanding (if someone stuck a microphone in my face the day I get a demotion at work, I’d say stupid stuff too), it’s a great move.  He needed a mental tune-up, and that’s what the minors are there for.  They’re like a body shop when you need some minor detailing done to your game.  Going to Indy isn’t always terrible for a player.  But, anyway, I’m here for a series recap, and that’s what I shall do.

Game one was not very entertaining for 8 innings.  The Indians jumped on Snell early.  Ian held them in check for 2 innings, but as soon as trouble hit, he unraveled.  He gives up a hit to Gimenez.  Huff (in his first career at bat I believe), sac bunts him to second.  Carroll gets walked, but still no need to panic.  A ground ball ends the inning.  Then Grady Sizemore steps up and hits one into the gap in right.  Steve Pearce (who only started playing in the outfield this year) takes a horrible route to the ball, it’s gets by him and goes to the wall.  The ball was a single all the way that scores 1.  Instead, it goes for a triple and 2 runs come home.  Steve cost Ian a run.  Everyone watching knew it.  Ian got frustrated and started missing spots.  He walked the next two batters, gave up another hit that brought in two more, and was finally yanked.  Using this lead (and adding onto it by a solo shot by Peralta), the Indians were cruising behind the stellar pitching of David Huff.  He’s got an ERA of almost 6, but through 8 innings we made him look like Cy Young.  So mercifully, in the 9th, the game gets turned over to the worst bullpen in the majors.  The Pirate bats finally wake up.  Down 5-0 in the 9th, Adam LaRoche hits a seemingly meaningless home run into the Allegheny to lead off the inning.  Thanks Adam!  But something amazing happens.  We start hitting.  Everyone starts hitting.  We bat around.  Suddenly, Adam’s back up with the bases loaded, only down 5-4.  He’s got a home run already this inning.  All he needs is to shorten his swing, and push one to left to score two and take the lead.  The entire defense is playing him as a dead pull hitter.  What does Adam do?  He tries to kill another one into the river and flies out to right.  <smacks head>  That should OFFICIALLY cement him as the least clutch player on the Buccos.

Game two was almost the same thing in reverse.  Zach Duke returns to old form and throws 6 pretty good innings.  The bats wake up for 14 hits and 10 runs.  We take a 10-1 lead into the 9th.  Steven Jackson gets two quick outs.  Then the Indians start hitting, and by hitting I mean putting the ball in the direction of Andy LaRoche who kept committing errors (2 in the inning, but it was close to being 3).  The Indians put up 5 runs in the 9th to make it 10-6 before the Pirates finally put in Burnett to get the last out and end the madness.

Game three was the most exciting of all because it was close the whole way through.  Cliff Lee was on the hill for Cleveland.  He’s a terrific pitcher on an awful team.  One of those guys who  you have to look at the ERA and disregard the record.  He was as good as advertised, but we were able to get 2 runs off him.  That was enough to push it to the Indians bullpen with the game tied.  If you get to that point with the Indians, you’ve got it made.  Their bullpen didn’t disappoint.  Matt Herges allowed two quick hits.  Jack Wilson stole 3rd (he better remember that moment cuz it won’t happen often), and Andrew McCutchen gets a game winning yank to shallow left.  First walkoff of the year for the Pirates.  I’ll take it.

The Pirate bats really seemed to come alive in this one.  Adam LaRoche hit  two home runs in the series.  But most of the damage was done against Cleveland’s bullpen.  It’s night and day between their starters and bullpen.  Kansas City come into town this weekend, and is ripe for another series win.  But as for now, I’m just going to bask in the joy of beating Cleveland (even if it was a race to the bottom kind of series).

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Pirates Rockies Recap

image from epsn.com

image from epsn.com

Pirates 3 Rockies 7

Pirates 7 Rockies 9

Pirates 4 Rockies 5

Wow.  You can really read John Russell’s face in that picture.  It says ‘Crap.  This Pittsburgh gig is going to be tougher than I thought’.  It’s tough.  We ran into a buzz-saw in Colorado.  They had won 13 of their last 14 games coming into the Pirate series.  Every part of their game was clicking.  But, as usual, our Buccos aren’t one to mess with success (by another team).  We made a red-hot team look white-hot and dropped all three games.  Yipee!

We were never really in game one.  The Rockies put up an early lead and never took their foot off the gas.  Jason Marquis almost went the distance for Colorado, but ran out of gas at the very end.  Jack Wilson got a rare home run.  That was about the only highlight from this day.  Pretty bleak.  No Pirate batter hit over .500 for the day.

Game two was a heart-breaker.  We finally got to a pitcher and dinged Jason Hammel for 6 runs.  This is right where the Buccos want to be.  When we score, we usually can win.  We had some errors (Freddy Sanchez lost a ball in the sun while he was wearing sunglasses…..on the brim of his cap.  I don’t see how that’s not an error), but we were there.  Going into the 8th, we were up two.  Then John Grabow proceeds to give up a 3-run shot and climb into my bad side more and more.  Because we got one in the top of the 8th, that only tied the score.  In the top of the 9th, we had Nyjer Morgan on 3rd with two outs.  Adam LaRoche is up to bad.  The least clutch player on the team.  In a pressure situation like this, you can count on him to get the out you need.  So Colorado naturally walks him and brings up his brother.  I have no idea why.  But I’ll take it.  Does Andy make them pay?  Not a chance.  Inning ending grounder.  So then in the bottom of the 9th with one out and a man on first do we get the inning-ending double play?  Not a chance.  Walk off home run by Todd Helton.  Makes you want to bang your head against the wall.

Game three was just as frustrating.  It’s the 6th inning and we’re down by 1.  Our bullpen is holding strong.  The Rockies had to go to the pen early.  Heck, they even sent up Josh Fogg.  He’s gotta screw up, right?  How many times did he make Pirate fans wince?  Not this time.  The Rockies bullpen throws 3 perfect innings in a row.  That’s right.  We have 3 innings where all we need is one run to tie, and we don’t even get a man to first base.  It really makes you question your loyalty to this team.

If you can’t tell, I’m frustrated right now.  Very, very frustrated.  But at least the expectations were so low that I don’t really care.  I shake my head and move on.  This is the first series where the bi-polar bucs didn’t really rear their ugly head.  They put up some runs.  They put 7 on the board in game 2.   We just couldn’t hold a hot team down.  Tomorrow I’m looking into what makes the Pirates tick, and what makes them lose so much.  It should be interesting…..especially if you like numbers a lot.

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Pirates/Twins Recap

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Pirates 2 Twins 8

Pirates 8 Twins 2

Pirates 1 Twins 5

So the Pirates just finished an inter-league series with the Twins.  Going into the series, I wasn’t sure quite what to make of this one.  The Twins are in second place in the AL Central, but that’s not a terrific division to begin with.  The games are in the Metrodome, which offers one of the larger home field advantages in the bigs.  I guess winning 1 of 3 is probably what I would have guessed going in, but I wouldn’t have been surprised either way.

Game one is being blamed by most people on Paul Maholm.  He gave up 8 runs, and had without a doubt his worst game of the season and possibly his career.  He only walked 1, but his control was off.  He was going really deep into every count.  He also gave up all 8 runs in only 5 plus innings, which is off the charts bad.  But, before you put him through the wringer, remember 2 things: 1)he’s the best pitcher we’ve got, and frankly one of the only ones that consistently looks like a major leaguer.  He deserves one bad day excuse  and 2)Adam LaRoche deserves a lot of blame, too.  Lets look back at the
5th, shall we?  The Bucs trailed 4-2, but they had the bases loaded with 1 out.  This was the Buccos chance to get back in the game, if not take the lead, and LaRoche grounds into the double play.  Yet again cementing himself as the Pirate’s resident choke artist.  This guy has rolled out more crushing double play balls this year than anyone in the league.  And this one was especially bad.  It totally knocked the wind out the Pirate sails (and wind in the sails is important when you’re pirates).  Maholm melts down the next inning, and you can kiss it goodbye.

Game two saw a resurgence of power from the Pirates.  I have no idea what happened (maybe the air conditioning was pointed out towards center field), but it would be great to see more of it.  Both LaRoche brothers went yard and were joined by Andrew McCutchen getting his first big league knock.  Ian Snell had another good start which means he’s on a bit of a roll.  Maybe he was threatened with a demotion and/or trade and woke up.  Who knows.  But man, oh, man.  The Twins just ran into a rare buzzsaw and there’s nothing you can do about it .

They got their revenge in game three, though.  The Twins got two dingers of their own, but all they needed was pitcher Nick Blackburn.  He pitched a gem, going the distance while only giving up 6 hits.  He would have gotten a shutout, too, if it wasn’t for a cheap run in the 9th.  Guy’s a quality pitcher.  He’s 6-2 on the year with a WHIP of 1.25.  It’s ok to get bested by the best, but I’m not sure he’s good enough to get a shutout on us.  Whatever.  I’m already sounding like a broken record about the Pirate batting.  I won’t pound the inconsistency topic any more.

So that about raps it up.  It was just what you would have expected from this series.  The Twins have some terrific young bats and a couple of ok arms.  They just don’t have the depth of the lineup that a team like the Yankees has.  Problem is, the Pirates don’t have any depth at all in their lineup, so they made them look like the Yankees, anyway.  Oh, well.  We go to Coors Field for 3 games this weekend.  If we don’t see any more of that power we saw in game two, it doesn’t exist.

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Pirates/Astros Recap

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Pirates 1 Astros 9

Pirates 6 Astros 4

Pirates 4 Astros 6

Ok.  So we follow up a sweep of the first place Mets with….losing 2 of 3 to the last place Astros.  The bipolar ball club strikes again!  Following the Pirates is getting depressing.  Every time they show a glimpse that they can play, they pull the rug out from under you and remind you how much they suck.  I realize that most of you reading this are too swept up in the Pens to care what the Buccos are doing.  It’s so frustrating, I can’t put it into words.  So I’ll just make a soundtrack for you to listen to while you read to try to set the mood.  Of course the mood is blues.  Take it away, Mr. King:

So, game one was characterized by…you guessed it…the bats disappearing again.  This time we managed only a depressing 6 hits.  We made Mike Hampton look like an all-star.  No extra base hits all day.  Just depressing.  I guess the one redeeming thing was that we picked the right day to fall flat in the batters box since the pitchers had a rough outing themselves.  Jeff Karstens got knocked around 6 runs and 9 hits in a little over 5 innings.  The baffling thing about it, though, was the walks and strikeouts.  He walked 4 and struck out 2.  Not that unusual until you see that he threw a first pitch strike to 21 of the 28 batters he faced.  To start out ahead so much and have that kind of final results is very troubling.  It’s something to definitely keep an eye on.

Game two was a rare example of the Pirates jumping on a team early and slamming the door.  I think when we start seeing more wins like this, we’ll see the Pirates turning the corner.  We jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the 3rd and wouldn’t let them come back.  The Astros scored a single run in the 3rd and 4th, but that was it.  Paul Maholm went 7 and gave his usual quality start.  Grabow and Capps then shut it down.  We’re a small ball team this year.  Small ball teams can win, but they have to learn to keep leads when they get ’em.  That’s why I like this win so much.

Game three was just maddening.  So we go into the 7th down by 2.  We get a little bit of a rally going and tie the game at 3.  We’ve got the bases loaded and 1 out.  The Astros have their second pitcher of the inning on the mound.  The Pirates can smell blood.  Up steps Adam LaRoche to hit into an inning ending double play.  That’s another strong claim by Adam for the ‘player you would LEAST like to have up in a critical situation’ award.  This is followed up by the bottom of the 7th when the Astros have men on first and second with 2 outs.  Tejada steps up and hits a grounder to short.  Ramon Vazquez makes a diving stop and proceeds to throw a wounded duck 3 feet away from second base.  This despite the fact that he was 2 feet from the bag when he caught it.  A run scores on the play, and the Buccos pack it in.

That was our season in a nutshell.  We keep making enough plays to get us in contention.  To be right where we need to be.  Then we get to crunch time and proceed to choke.  Every time.  I can’t believe how bad we are with runners in scoring position.  That’s the thing that drives you nuts with this ball club.  Everyone on the team has a lot of talent.  No one on this team is consistent with that talent at all.  Next up is a four game set with Atlanta that should be fun because of you know who.  It’s yet another wounded team we can steal a series from.  Lets hope for better results.

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