Braves Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 6-1 Loss at Atlanta. One bad inning from the bullpen. Box score.
Saturday: 4-2 Win at Atlanta. Score early and hang on late. Solid pitching. Box score.
Sunday: 4-3 Loss at Atlanta. Sloppy defense, 1 for 13 with RISP. Box score.
Monday: 9-3 Win at Atlanta. Finally, the bats break out. Box score.

Season Record: 10-12, 4th place in the NL Central

Splitting four games on the road versus a good team is a very acceptable result. Nice to see the bats come alive too.

Earlier I posted a little about Pedro Alvarez, but I want to reiterate that he was their best player this weekend. He looked loose and confident, which was a marked difference from how I saw him in March. Andrew McCutchen on the other hand looked to be pressing to get the big hit every time up. If both of those guys were hitting at the same time, watch out.

All four starters looked good. I watched James McDonald warm up in the bullpen and he was all over the place. When he started so shaky in the first and second it looked like it was going to be a long game. But as he sometimes does, he figured it out and shut the door on the Braves from that point on.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh   AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB   AVG
McCutchen, A, CF 16 2 3 1 1 7 4 0.188
Walker, 2B 14 2 7 1 3 0 3 0.500
Alvarez, 3B 14 2 5 3 2 5 10 0.357
Tabata, RF 14 3 5 3 1 1 4 0.357
Presley, LF 13 2 4 1 1 4 1 0.308
Jones, G, 1B 12 0 2 2 0 5 2 0.167
Barmes, SS 11 0 0 0 0 3 9 0.000
McGehee, 1B 9 1 2 0 2 5 3 0.222
Barajas, C 8 2 2 0 3 2 4 0.250
Navarro, LF 4 2 2 3 0 0 3 0.500
McKenry, C 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 0.333
McDonald, J, P 3 0 0 0 1 1 2 0.000
Bedard, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 5 0.000
McLouth, PH 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000
Correia, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000
126 17 33 14 15 34 51 0.262

Batting
Doubles (11): Presley (4), Alvarez 3 (4), Walker 2 (2), McCutchen (6), Jones (3), Tabata 2 (3), McGehee (3)
HomeRuns (2): Alvarez (5), Navarro (1)

BaseRunning
SB: McCutchen (5), Walker (1)
CS: Presley (3)

Fielding
Errors: Tabata (1), McCutchen (1), Alvarez (3), Resop (1)
Double Plays: (Walker-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker-Jones)

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO  HR    ERA
McDonald, J(W, 1-1) 7.7 7 3 3 2 10 1 3.52
Burnett, A.J. (L, 1-1) 6.0 6 2 2 3 8 0 3.00
Bedard (W, 1-4) 5.0 5 1 1 2 9 0 1.80
Correia (L, 1-1) 4.3 4 3 2 5 0 0 4.15
Meek 2.7 4 1 1 0 1 0 3.38
Resop(H, 2) 2.3 3 1 1 0 1 0 3.86
Lincoln 2.0 2 1 1 1 2 1 4.50
Grilli (H, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00
Hanrahan (S, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Cruz, J (H, 2) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Watson 1.0 1 3 3 2 0 0 27.00
34.0 33 15 14 15 36 2 3.71

Transaction: After Sunday’s game Evan Meek was optioned to AAA. Jared Hughes was called back up.

Up Next:
Three games in St. Louis (14-8, 1st place in NL Central). Earlier in the year the Cards took two of three from the Pirates. Expected Matchups:
Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.65 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.32 ERA)
A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.38 ERA) vs Lance Lynn (4-0, 1.33 ERA)
Erik Bedard (1-4, 2.48 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (3-1, 1.30 ERA)

No No-Hitter, No Win

James McDonald was, as they say, on. The Pirates’ offense was, as usual, off.

McDonald rolled through seven strong, taking a no-hitter into the 7th. His final line of 7 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 1 ER, 8 K would be good enough to win on almost any day. But not this day; not for a team that has scored only 36 times in 17 games.

It started early. Alex Presley extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single, but was caught stealing two batters later making Andrew McCutchen‘s double for naught. Every Pirates starter had exactly one hit, but baserunning mistakes kept them from putting them together for runs. Luckily Pedro Alvarez was able to put one over the fence and avoid the shutout.

Game two starting soon, as the Pirates try to win the series.

Lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Nate McLouth RF
Andrew McCutchen 8CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Yamaico Navarro 42B
Clint Barmes 6SS
Rod Barajas C
Charlie Morton P

Daytime Double Header.

The Pirates came back twice last night to beat Jamie Moyer and the Rockies 5-4. As a whole, the team was 11/33 with five walks and only three strikeouts. Today they’ll play two to make up for Monday’s postponement.

Game one lineups:

Pirates
Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Michael McKenry C
James McDonald P (0-1, 3 GS, 15.2 IP, 6 K, 1.21 WHIP, 3.45 ERA)

Rockies
Marco Scutaro 2B
Tyler Colvin CF
Carlos Gonzalez LF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Jason Giambi 1B
Michael Cuddyer  RF
Wilin Rosario C
Chris Nelson 3B
Juan Nicasio P (1-0, 3 GS, 16 IP, 12 K, 1.44 WHIP, 6.19 ERA)

Game 2:
Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 3 GS, 15 IP, 14 K, 1.40 WHIP, 4.80 ERA)
Charlie Morton  (0-1, 2 GS, 10 IP, 8 K, 1.40 WHIP, 3.60 ERA)

A new rule this year allows teams to call up an extra player for doubleheaders. Jared Hughes has been recalled from AAA to fill this role. He’ll be returned to the minors tomorrow.

Cardinals On Deck

The Pirates emerged from their nine game west coast trip with a 5-7 record; good for third place in the Central and a game better than I feared they would be after all the tough pitchers they’ve faced so far this year. This weekend, the first place (and Albert Pujols-less) Cardinals bring their 9-4 record to Pittsburgh for a three game set.

Pitching matchups:
Friday: Lance Lynn (2-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
Saturday: Jake Westbrook (2-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Sunday: Kyle Lohse (2-0, 0.89 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (0-3, 2.65 ERA)

Lance Berkman will miss the series with an injury and Jon Jay was recently injured as well. The real key for the Pirates will be, as always, trying to score some runs against pitchers who have been very effective this season. Hopefully a little home cooking will help.

Tonight’s lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Rod Barajas C
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Charlie Morton P

I’d rather see Casey McGehee at 3B, but Pedro’s gotta play to get better I guess.

Weekend Wrap Up 4/15/12

Scores:
Friday: 5-0 Loss at San Francisco. Matt Cain dominates. Recap. Box score.
Saturday: 4-3 Loss at San Francisco. Close game falls apart in the ninth. Recap. Box score.
Sunday: 4-1 Win at San Francisco. Finally, a solid game. Recap. Box score.

Season Record: 3-6, 5th place in the NL Central.

Good: Another good start from Kevin Correia breaks the five game losing streak. Charlie Morton looks to be in good health in his season debut. Neil Walker with two two-hit days.
Bad: Two shaky outings from Joel Hanrahan. Chris Resop wasn’t sharp but the defense let him down. Jose Tabata went 0-9 and left 7 men on base.

Combined Box:

Pittsburgh      AB      R      H      RBI      BB      SO      LOB
Presley, LF 13 1 3 1 1 4 2
Walker, 2B 11 1 4 2 0 3 0
McCutchen, A, CF 11 2 2 0 1 1 2
McGehee, 1B 9 2 2 0 0 1 2
Tabata, RF 9 0 0 0 0 3 7
Jones, G, 1B, RF 7 1 2 1 0 4 0
Harrison, 3B, SS 7 0 1 1 0 0 3
Barmes, SS 7 0 1 0 0 1 3
Barajas, C 6 0 0 0 1 0 0
Alvarez, 3B 6 0 0 0 0 5 1
McDonald, J, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0
Navarro, PH 2 0 0 0 0 1 4
Correia, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 3
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0
McKenry, C 1 0 0 0 3 1 0
McLouth, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Hague, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 97 7 16 5 6 26 29

Batting:
Triples: Harrison (1)
Homers: Jones (1)

Baserunning:
SB: Tabata (2), Jones (1)
CS: McCutchen (2)

Fielding:
Errors: Morton (1), Barmes 2 (2)

Pittsburgh      IP      H      R      ER      BB      SO      HR
Correia(W, 1-0) 6.0 3 1 1 1 2 0
McDonald, J (L, 0-1) 5.7 6 3 3 3 1 0
Morton 5.0 7 3 3 0 2 0
Hanrahan(S, 1) 2.0 2 2 2 2 1 1
Grilli(H, 1) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3 0
Watson 1.3 1 0 0 0 0 0
Hughes, J(H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Cruz, J 1.0 0 0 0 2 1 0
Meek 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Resop (L, 0-1) 0.0 2 1 0 1 0 0
Totals 25.0 23 10 9 10 10 1

Transactions: Activated RHP Charlie Morton from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned 1B Matt Hague to AAA Indianapolis.

Up Next: A three game set in Arizona ends the road trip. Expected matchups: Erik Bedard (0-2) vs. Joe Saunders (0-0), Jeff Karstens (0-1) vs. Ian Kennedy (2-0), and James McDonald (0-1) vs. Daniel Hudson (1-0).

More Tough Matchups On The Horizon

The Pirates have scored 11 runs in six games. An average of 1.83 runs/game. The team batting average is .199. What do you expect when a team of average (at best) bats faces some of the best pitchers in the league? Here are the opponents’ starting pitchers for the Pirates’ first twelve games.

vs. Roy Halladay, 1-0 L

vs. Cliff Lee, 2-1 W
vs. Vance Worley, 5-4 W
vs. Clayton Kershaw, 2-1 L
vs. Chad Billingsley, 4-1 L
vs. Chris Capuano, 3-2 L
vs. Ian Kennedy
vs. Daniel Hudson (*not announced yet, my projection.)

And here are the results of last year’s NL Cy Young award voting (from baseball reference):

Rank Tm Vote Pts 1st Place Share WAR W L ERA SV IP ER BB SO WHIP
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD 207.0 27.0 92% 7.0 21 5 2.28 0 233.1 59 54 248 0.977
2 Roy Halladay PHI 133.0 4.0 59% 7.4 19 6 2.35 0 233.2 61 35 220 1.040
3 Cliff Lee PHI 90.0 0.0 40% 6.9 17 8 2.40 0 232.2 62 42 238 1.027
4 Ian Kennedy ARI 76.0 1.0 34% 5.5 21 4 2.88 0 222.0 71 55 198 1.086
5 Cole Hamels PHI 17.0 0.0 8% 5.4 14 9 2.79 0 216.0 67 44 194 0.986
6 Tim Lincecum SFG 7.0 0.0 3% 4.4 13 14 2.74 0 217.0 66 86 220 1.207
7 Yovani Gallardo MIL 5.0 0.0 2% 2.7 17 10 3.52 0 207.1 81 59 207 1.215
8 Matt Cain SFG 3.0 0.0 1% 3.9 12 11 2.88 0 221.2 71 63 179 1.083
9 John Axford MIL 2.0 0.0 1% 2.7 2 2 1.95 46 73.2 16 25 86 1.140
9 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2.0 0.0 1% 3.0 4 3 2.10 46 77.0 18 32 127 1.039
11 Madison Bumgarner SFG 1.0 0.0 0% 2.8 13 13 3.21 0 204.2 73 46 191 1.212
11 Ryan Vogelsong SFG 1.0 0.0 0% 3.7 13 7 2.71 0 179.2 54 61 139 1.252
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/11/2012.

The Pirates face six of the ten starting pitchers to get votes as the best pitcher in the National League last year. When does it get easier? Matt Cain‘s one of the best pitchers in the league, Daniel Hudson has nasty stuff. Ian Kennedy broke out in a big way. Last year Ryan Vogelsong struck out 8 in 5.2 innings against the Pirates in the first start of his comeback year. The much-maligned Barry Zito threw a complete game shutout in Colorado in his  last start. Joe Saunders threw seven shutout innings in his first start of the year.

Seriously, the Pirates could easilty be looking at a 4-8 record when this stretch is over. If they want to be better, then:

1) Their own pitching needs to keep up the good work. Allowing only 2.5 runs/game has kept the Pirates in every game so far.
2) The bats need to find a way to string some hits together. Also, take some more walks. You can be selective while still being aggressive. Seven walks in six games is woeful.

Let’s hope they pick it up this weekend in San Francisco. The Pirates starters are slated to be James McDonald, Charlie Morton (season debut) and Kevin Correia. I’ll see you Monday with the Weekend Wrapup.

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