Tag Archives: Andrew McCutchen

Pirates/Nationals Recap

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image from espn.com

Pirates 5 Nationals 4

Pirates 11 Nationals 6

Pirates 3 Nationals 5

Pirates 4 Nationals 8

Andrew McCutchen…..power hitter?  Seems like it.  4 home runs in the series.  3 in one game.  What the heck got into him?  I’d love to know.  But I guess that’s just the one good note Pirate fans get on the otherwise disappointing series.  The new look Pirates looked good out of the gates on Friday.  They hit their stride on Saturday.  They took and early lead on Sunday and blew it.  Then decided that blowing leads was so much fun they do it again on Sunday.

But, alas, back to the beginning on Friday.  Ross Ohlendorf had his usual outing, by which I mean he went about 6 innings and then just totally ran out of gas with no warning.  If he’s going to be a starter with low stamina, the least he could do is gradually let off so that Russell knows when to warm someone up.  Oh, well.  Chavez cleaned up his mess, so no harm no foul, I guess.  We rolled out 5 pitchers in this game.  Taxing your bullpen like that is okay as long as it’s not a habit.  Steve Pearce got a home run.  Lets hope that’s a sign of the power we’ve been looking for out of him for the past, oh, I don’t know, few years or so.  Ryan Doumit had an awful game all around, but since he was the exception on the offense instead of the rule (like usual), we get the W.  I’ll take it.

Game two was the Andrew McCutchen show.  3 home runs and a single to go 4 for 5.  How long until he’s traded again?  Oh, well.  I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.  Everyone was hitting the ball hard.  Except for Garrett Jones that is.  The one proven power hitter in the lineup.  He looked like he was swinging for Ohio, and got under a ball to right field twice.  I have a sinking suspicion that pitchers are starting to get a book on him, and those home runs will dry up.  But once again: oh, well.  I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.  Virgil Vasquez pitched, and surprisingly was only half bad.  He made it through 5, and was relieved by his co-5th starter: Jeff Karstens.  I think when Virgil’s up, Jeff knows to get warmed up really well.  I can’t remember the last time Vasquez started and didn’t have to hand the ball off to Karstens for some long relief.  You might as well just start Jeff.  I don’t get it.  Sigh.

Game three was miserable.  Paul Maholm was on the mound, and wasn’t getting great run-support, but was taking a 2-1 lead into the 7th inning when the wheels came off and he gives up 3 runs.  We lose 5-3.  Crap.  It’s a shame because Paul’s shown good stuff this year.  But this isn’t the first outing this season where he’s run out of gas.  Ronny Cedeno flashed some leather in this one (well, all series actually) so he’s at least a serviceable shortstop…..defensively.  Offensively, he was known as “rally killin’ Ronny'” in Seattle.  I see why after watching him for a weekend.  He’s not a strong guy, so all he can do is push out into the short short outfield and hope it finds a hole.  He’ll ground into a lot of double plays.  Just the facts of life.  But at least you know he’s not juicing, right?

Game four was more of the same.  McCutchen started the game off with a home run.  We put two more across in the 1st inning.  Then we couldn’t get out of our own way for the next 7 innings.  Ryan Doumit singled in Garrett Jones in the bottom of the 9th, but by then it was already 8-3 with two outs and all but a lost cause.  Charlie Morton pitched 6 innings and was throwing extremely well for the first 5, but then gave up 4 runs in the 6th.  That seems to be a theme for Pirate starters.  Get to about the 6th somewhere and call it a day.  I’m not sure if its the training they’re doing that isn’t getting the stamina up enough or what, but this is a staff-wide problem.  It’s not just one guy with a quirk.  I’m getting worried.

So there you have it.  A fantastic AAA series in Pittsburgh ends in a draw.  But, on the bright side, the Pirates were able to bring in Jo Dee Messina for a concert on Saturday and give the fans SOMETHING to cheer about.  She was very good, by the way.  She mentioned Bob Nutting and seemed pretty shocked by the boos.  I think she realized pretty quick that she touched on a very sore spot and the best course of action was to not talk baseball.  Smart lady.  The Diamondbacks are in town for a 3 game series now.  Another beatable team.  Lets hope we can get a ray of sunshine before the Cards come in over the weekend and clean our clocks.  Ugh.

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Pirates/Indians Recap

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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/Twins Recap

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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/Braves Recap

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Pirates 6 Braves 7 (15 innings)

Pirates 3 Braves 4

Pirates 3 Braves 2

Pirates 3 Braves 1

Hey, remember when I recapped the Astros series and I said this was a frustrating team to follow?  Well, I didn’t know the half of it.  Let’s set the stage first.  The Braves are struggling.  They have a pretty decent rotation, but they can’t seem to score runs.  Their extreme desperation is the reason the Nate McLouth trade took place weeks before the trade deadline.

Speaking of Nate, he wasted no time getting a shot in against Pirate management where it counts.  He went 3 for 7 with a home run in game one.  Funniest scene of the year was Zach Duke’s reaction to the homer.  It just smacked of ‘how the heck could you do that to me, man?’.  The game turned out to be a marathon.  We had a ton of chances in late innings to score a run or two and end the thing, but failed to come up with clutch hitting each time.  There were for times in the 8th inning and beyond (when one run would have pretty much won it) where we had a man in scoring position and failed to get him home.  We came back from a 5-1 deficit to tie it.  We had the momentum and a desperate team on the ropes.  We had our bullpen throwing the best I’ve ever seen them throw, and we blew it.  Again.  The most odd ball thing about this game, though, was the decision to put Jeff Karstens on the mound in the 15th inning.  We had used up every one of our relievers by that time except for Matt Capps.  Now, I know using your closer for a late game relief appearance is not desirable, but why not put him out there for an inning or two before throwing a starter out there?  Karstens of course throws up on himself and walks the first batter.  A sac bunt and two hits later and the game is over.  I’m not a baseball genius, but maybe Jeff didn’t pitch so well because, I don’t know, he hasn’t had to quickly warm up and throw in  relief since he was a Yankee?  I honestly have no idea what John Russell was thinking.  To make things worse, the Braves were in worse shape pitching wise.  Kris Medlen was pitching for Atlanta in the 15th.  He also threw the 14th and was the last relief pitcher Atlanta had.  Plus, they didn’t have a AAA pitcher in need of a quick call-up like Charlie Morton to make up for  using a starter.  If the Pirates don’t give up a run in the 15th, the Braves have to either screw up their rotation or use a position player.  Neither is desirable.  It was an awful game to watch because we had the game won, and lost it with bad strategy and hitting.  The one bright spot, however, was the continued hot streak of Andrew McCutchen with 2 triples.  This soon changed, however, as you’ll read later.

Game two was equally frustrating.  We built up an early 3-1 lead after 4, and just let the Braves slowly eat into it.  Ross Ohlendorf took the hill for the Pirates and gave them 6 innings.  He gets charged with 3 earned runs, but I only credit him with 2.  He gave up a single to the first batter in the 7th before getting the hook, and Sean Burnett let him in.  Having a man on first with no outs is not a hard jam to get out of.  The bullpen definitely let the team down in this one, but I can’t believe how the bats disappeared in the second half of the game.  We were lucky to get one man on per inning after the 4th.  It was pathetic.  We’re a small ball team.  We’ve got some speed, and we’ve got some players who can slap a ball the opposite way for a hit.  We don’t have any home run hitters (especially with Doumit on the bench).  That’s fine.  You can win with small ball (look at Tampa), but you need consistency if you’re going to do that, and we have none.

Game three was a close game we finally won.  Once again, we jump out to a quick 2 run lead, but this time we’re able to tack on another run in the 7th to seal it.  That extra insurance makes all the difference, and it especially did in this game because Matt Capps came up with a 2 run lead in the 9th and gives up a solo shot.  Still not a great day for the Pirate bats.  We got absolutely no production from the bottom half of the order.  The 5-9 spots were a combined 1 for 15.  That’s right.  1 for 15.  How terrible can you get?  We also didn’t get a great outing from McCutchen who went 0 for 5.  So, basically, Sanchez and Morgan won us this game.  Thanks guys!  The big news from the game, however, was Charlie Morton’s debut.  He went all of 1 inning before being yanked with a sore hamstring.  McLouth dings us for a homer.  The guy we get in return gives us one solid inning of work.  <smacks head against desk>  Crap.

Game four was the afternoon closer.   This was a pitchers duel from the start.  Paul Maholm and Javier Vazquez both pitched outstanding.  Vazquez struck out 12 in 8 innings.  Maholm struck out 8 in 7.  The Braves struck first in the 4th inning, capitalizing on a rare fielding error by Jack Wilson (he didn’t have his best game overall).  We got it right back in the 5th off a solo shot by Delwyn Young.  That’s his first as a Succo, I mean Bucco.  Andrew McCutchen continued his mini slump, going 1-4.  But that one hit was a key one that started off a game-winning 2-run 9th inning.  I’m starting to wonder if maybe pitchers are starting to figure him out?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

So a most frustrating series against Atlanta, but at least we get the sweep.  I feel like we definitely could have taken 3.  This is the not the Braves team that won all those division titles.  This is a team even the Pirates have a shot at.  Detroit is coming to town starting tomorrow evening.  That should be an interesting fan atmosphere on Saturday no matter what happens in game 7 tomorrow.  Lets go Bucs!

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Pirates/Mets Recap

image from planetbuzz.com

image from planetbuzz.com

Pirates 8 Mets 5

Pirates 3 Mets 1

Pirates 11 Mets 6

The Pirates swept the Mets.  Let me say that again: the Pirates.  Swept.  The Mets.  Wow.  So how in the world did this just happen?  Well, we’ve established that the Pirate offense is like Jekyll and Hyde.  The Jekyll showed up for two games, and Hyde showed up for the one game where we got great pitching.  So it was more luck than anything.  But, let’s do a quick recap anyway.

Game one was winning the lottery.  The Pirates were down 5-3 going into the bottom of the 8th, and they scored 5 runs.  This isn’t THAT rare of an occurrence except for two things.  1)the Mets bullpen is one of the best in the bigs, and 2)it’s the Pirates.  The combination of the two makes this a one in a million shot.  Jack Wilson went 3-4, having himself a nice day, but other than that it was ho-hum for the Bucco bats.  Just a random rally.  On the other end, Ian Snell had a horrible game which just fuels the fire for those asking for his demotion.  I think the Pirate management have a lot of money sunk into Snell, so he’s getting every chance…and he’s blowing all of them.

Game two was Johan Santana’s turn on the mound for the Mets, so everyone was couting the Pirates out from the beginning.  He didn’t disappoint, going 6 innings and giving up 3 runs.  A quality start (but not for him and the money he’s making).  However, Zach Duke continued his roll and pitched a gem.  7 innings, 1 earned run, only 1 walk.  Nicely done.  Grabow and Capps shut the door, and we steal a win from one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Game three was a rain out (makeup July 2nd).  Game four was just crazy.  It’s the first game after the McLouth trade, so I kind of expected the Pirates to be down.  They prove me wrong, however, coming out of the gates with a 4 run 1st inning and never looked back.  The Mets joined in the fun, but when the Pirates decide to hit, I have to admit they’re hard to out-duel.  They just need to decide to hit more often.  Andrew McCutchen had his first big league game (replacing McLouth), and promptly got his first big league hit on his first big league at bat (in the first at bat of the game, no less).  He then followed it up with his first major league run, his first major league RBI, his first major league walk, his first major league stolen base, his first major league put-out, and thankfully NOT his first major league strikeout.  Phew.  Seriously, the kid did everything.  It’s crazy to expect him to do that daily, but if he can show flashes of that consistently, we won’t be missing Nate TOO much.  Jason Jaramillo went 4-4, also having a fantastic day.  Ross Ohlendorf did NOT have a good day, lasting only a little more than 4 innings and giving up 5 runs.  It could be worse, though.  Mike Pelfrey gave up 9 runs in 3 and 2/3 innings.  To the Pirates.  Ridiculous.

Overall, a nice series against a top notch team.  Even though they’re a little bit injury bitten right now, a sweep of the Mets is still really nice.  And so, the soap opera that is the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates continues.  Consistency is the name of the game and we don’t have it.  The Nate trade looks ok…..for now.  Tune in next week for more.

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