Results tagged ‘ Casey McGehee ’
Crazy to think, but this past week the Pirates put on another streak, sweeping the Astros and taking a series in St. Louis, ensuring that the Pirates stayed ahead in the Central standings. Even with the series opening loss to the Giants, Pittsburgh is still a game clear of the Reds and 2.5 up on the Cards who are in third.
The Pirates’ bats have officially woken up and those horrible performances in April and May are a distant memory to be replaced by Pedro Alvarez smashing homers out of PNC Park’s center field wall (yes the second one). Even better, the Pirates have found a way to get strong outings out of Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens is looking like the 2011 starter who frustrated hitters and ate innings.
This is the dream come true. The Bucs are nine games over the .500 mark and were 10 games over with a very real chance of entering the break 11 games over the .500 line. This team, whether it’s the Zoltan or Hurdle’s zen way, or even A.J. Burnett’s vertan presence, have found a way to string together wins and avoid losing streaks. This team is exciting, young, and completely oblvious to anyone who reminds them they play for a Pirates team that has not won a series since ’79 or finished .500 since ’92.
The series against the Giants is somewhat of a listmus test seeing that the Giants are a playoff team with great pitching and solid hitting all the way through. San Fran is the kind of team that the Pirates would struggle with and last night’s game was extremely promising. The Pirates probably could have won the game if Erik Bedard’s struggles had not continued but a bad fourth inning doomed the Bucs.
Last night’s foreshadowed the issues the Pirates have moving into the second half. Erik Bedard has never really impressed me this season aside from Opening Day and he now doesn’t even look like a starter. He can’t find the strike zone and the Pirates need another starter to ease the innings of Bedard, Burnett, and Correia.
The Pirates also have an issue with outfielders. Alex Presley, an average player at best, is now out with a concussion. Gorkys Hernandez is very replaceable and not someone who can be an everyday MLB starter. Garrett Jones doesn’t play against southpaws and will be splitting time at first with Casey McGehee. Bottom line: Starling Marte needs to come up. Presley, Marte, and McCutchen is a very palatable outfield and switching Presley for Jones is even better.
Alright so the Pirates did it again: struggled against an average pitcher but yet break open the bullpen to win a late one. This time, Jamie Moyer (old enough to be the father of half the Pittsburgh team) mystified the Bucs for the first six innings of the game, allowing only one earned run.
The Bucs also got a solid startin effort from Kevin Correia at home, a first for the pitcher known for struggling at PNC. However, the real action didn’t start until both starting pitchers gave way to the bullpens.
A deep Andrew McCutchen double in the seventh led to a 3-2 Pirates lead and according to the rules of this season, that should have ended the offense. Instead, the Pirates were going to treat the fans to more runs, especially after the second homerun from Carlos Gonzalez led to a 4-3 Rockies lead. (For the record, I will not call them the Rox.)
But Clint Barmes decided to belt his second homerun of the year to tie the game up in the eighth and for the first time, the Pirates built off this momentum by added a fifth run after a Casey McGehee single. Joel Hanrahan closed out the effort with a three up, three down 9th and the Pirates had their seventh win of the year with some offensive punch.
Now Bucs Dugout had some criticism of how badly Clint Hurdle is handling the small ball Pirates’ bunting situation and it is definitely valid. I tend to think bunting depends as much on the player as the situation. Letting role players bunt the ball around makes some sense, but big time hitters in your lineup should swing away, regardless of how cold they are. The Pirates got lucky and won a messy game, but don’t expect that to happen against the better teams in the Central.
Now on to round two! (more…)
I know I’m a bit late on this one but the Pirates finally won their first road game of the year and their first game on the West Coast. GI Garret Jones hit one out of the park early, and great small ball late scored Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee, the only two Pirates who can get on base these days. Kevin Correia (sorry for saying Bedard the other day) had another fantastic road outing for the Pirates and the Bucs cruised along to a 4-1 victory.
A side thought, if the Pirates really wanted to, the Bucs could keep all six starters when A.J. Burnett returns and Correia could be used exclusively on the road to start games and the bullpen for the rest of the year. It may be a tad unorthodox but ensures the best arms stay in Pittsburgh but we all know that Correia’s numbers in PNC park are atrocious compared to everywhere else and that his arm may be the weakest of the bunch. The idea is just maverick enough for Clint Hurdle to try…
On to the rest of the season, the Bucs are now going out to the desert. This series will not be fun. Arizona can score like crazy and are revitalized under Kirk Gibson. Their playoff run last year was the Cinderella of baseball and they are a strong 6-3 behind Los Angelas. The Pirates pitching will be tested and this is where we will learn a lot about the staff.
If the Bucs pitch well, it will speak volumes. The D’backs will have a decent enough scouting report on the Bucs pitching and the Bucs arms are broken in so this is the perfect or worst situation for the Pirates. If the Bucs pitch well, then there is serious hope for .500 on the backs of the rotation arms. If the Bucs falter and let Arizona tee off of them, this season’s well of hope may seriously start to dry up.
The Pirates are getting out of LA as fast as possible but they are running straight toward San Francisco, not the easiest of opponents either. The good news: the Pirates actually won this West Coast series last year and Buster Posey is still day to day with shingles. The bad news: the Pirates pitching gauntlet continues with Matt Cain.
The Bucs will miss Tim Lincecum but will get Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong for the two games after the facing the highest paid RHP in MLB history. Zito is coming off a strong start in Colorado after stay late in Arizona to work on mechanical issues. Unfortunately, they seem to have worked.
There will also be the rehab special as Vogelsong will presumably go up against Charlie Morton. Vogelsong had a good outing in AAA just like Morton did but both pitchers could be on tight counts and short leashes, meaning that the bullpen had better not be blown in games prior.
The Pirates’ bats need to wake up as the only two players producing are Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee. This is a large spacious park so I’d expect to see fly ball and grounder batters like Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas struggle. Maybe this change of venue will allow for some of the hard hit Pirates line outs to fall for hits which would be a nice change of pace. Admittably, the Bucs need more help at the plate than a bad pitching matchup (example Capuano). The Bucs need a timid pitcher who can be shaken early by Presley through McCutchen and then offers up ham to Walker and Jones.
The good news: that pretty much sums up Zito and Vogelsong when they are off. If the Pirates don’t jump on these guys early, it may be hard to win this series especially with the strength of the Giants back end bullpen.
I’m hoping the Bucs find their luck by the Bay because staying up till 1am watching them miss opportunities is not my ideal weekend. Let’s Go Bucs!!!
So if you haven’t noticed, the Pirates are just plain bad at hitting in this young season. The Pirates rank dead last in the MLB in SLG, Runs, and OBP while ranking 28th in AVG. The reason this is so frustrating is because their pitching is first in ERA, 4th in quality starts and 15th in WHIP. The Bucs are 2-3 with a 0-5 offense and a 5-0 defense.
We saw what happens when the pitching carries a lackluster hitting team last year: tread water/thrive in the first half, watch the arms fizzle out in the second half. The Bucs are 4 runs away from being 4-1 if they could have managed to score when they had both Roy Halladay and Chad Billinglsey in two on, one out situations at various points in their closest losses.
So how do the Bucs fix this hitting disaster so they can take advantage of these great opportunities? The most obvious answer is plate discipline.
In their two wins, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley lasted six innings. In their three losses, Halladay, Kershaw and Billingsley lasted 8, 7 and 6 respectively but the key is in their pitch counts. Billingsley threw 77, Kershaw tossed 88 and Halladay needed just 92 pitches to oust the Bucs.
In the latest two losses in LA, the Pirates were awful at the plate against Kershaw and that is somewhat expected. They were better against Billingsley, but never took advantage of opportunities to score with their small ball speed. Billingsley was vulnerable in the 6th inning last night and even though McClouth was just as much at fault as Walker, the bottom line is that they missed their best chance and deflated themselves far too much.
Alex Presley Casey McGehee and Andrew McCutchen are the only Pirates regulars with a BA over .200 which shows just how bad the hitting has been. McCutchen is the best hope for offense, Presley can run and play small ball while McGehee is somewhere in the middle. The rest of the team is no where to be found. Neil Walker look lost at the plate, the power potential of Garret Jones, Rod Barajas and Pedro Alvarez has resulted in strikeout and flyouts, not base clearing doubles.
Wow. Talk about a way to open the season. Two days, two walk offs, and two amazing pitching performances for the Pirates. The Battlin’ Bucs defeated Philadelphia 2-1 and 5-4 in back-to-back games to give the Pirates’ the series victory as well as a 2-1 start to the season. Let’s get straight to the details.
I missed the entirety of the 2-1 victory due to my church’s Easter Vigil Mass, but I did see the highlights and stat lines and this is all I can really say: very glad the Pirates did not “waste” Karstens’ outing. He didn’t strike out many, but seemed to have his control down and kept pace with Cliff Lee, no small achievement.
Once again, the Pirates’ hitters struggled against superior pitching, but the important thing to note is that they scored their run against Lee when he was vulnerable. Karstens kept them in contention and they struck the moment Lee was off his game. For a team like the Bucs, this is how they will win games against teams like Philadelphia.
Alex Presley beating out the throw for the walk-off only shows what the Pirates hope he can bring to the table: speed and OBP. Presley is a great leadoff hitter and he did exactly what he was supposed to do in that situation: put the ball just far enough in play for him to get on base. This time, the winning run just happened to be at third base.
I was able to catch most of the action from the 5-4 victory and aside from the amazing performances of Presely, McGhehee, and McCutchen, a couple of major things stuck out.
First, PEDRO ALVAREZ STARTED THIS COMEBACK. Of course Pedro had his MONSTER homerun, but he was the major reason the Pirates’ rally started after the Bucs went down 4-1. After a strike three in the dirt in the 7th, Pedro hustled down to first and made the play after an error by former Buc Ty Wiggington. From there, the Pirates’ initial two out rally brought the game back to a one run differential. Way to make an impact Pedro.
Of course, the storybook season of Matt Hague only got better when he drove in the tying run in the 8th when substituted as a pinch hitter. Great move by Hurdle and Hague only continued to impress. He could be Craig Wilson 2.0 with a great story behind him.
Finally, Pirates pitching looks REALLY good so far. Yes, Jared Hughes’ outing was shaky but Bucs Dugout wrote that according to Huntington, he was the odd man out until Chris Leroux’s injury forced things to change. Otherwise, Hannerhan looks unhittable with his slider/fastball combo, James McDonald was solid in his outing (another good performance not to be wasted) and in three games against the Phillies, the Pirates starters allowed just four runs. Those are the kinds of number the Phillies aces expect to put up.
Overall, this was a great series for the Bucs’ emotions and momentum. The West Coast road trip could spell trouble (as it usually does) especially when opening in LA against a hot Dodgers team. But ultimately, the Bucs are 2-1 and look better than last year.
I admit I have been slacking off over the last week with 1992 and I am sorry to all of you Pirates fans who care enough to read this blog. I have been a part of Bleacher Report’s March Madness crew so head on over there for some great College Basketball analysis.
In that span, the Pirates have been busy with Spring Training moves galore and as a result, this year’s team is starting to take shape. Here are some big things we have learned so far.
1) Starling Marte will be a star…later
Marte was optioned down to AAA and even with his great numbers, it should have come as no surprise. Marte has not yet gone through AAA ball and there is a large gap between Altoona and Pittsburgh. (For example, our buddy Pedro Alvarez destroyed AA pitching which has translated to a mendoza line BA at the MLB level.) Marte will need to throughly impress the AAA coaches before he can make a move up to the bigs, especially with Jose Tabata and Alex Presley holding fort in the corners. I think once Presley has faded in 1-2 two years, Marte will be ripe to come up and cement the Bucco outfield. Until then, Indianapolis fans will get some joy watching this young star.
2) I was wrong on Chase d’Arnaud
I fully own up to this one: my thoughts on Chase d’Arnaud were completely off base. Looking at the stat line, he looks to possess the same potential as Alex Presley, but coaches do not seem to think that he can achieve this as they cut him from the team. It is disappointing to say the least, but the Pirates’ bench is filling and their trade for Yamaico Navarro should have been an indication to me that dArnaud was going to need to make significant progress. He did not and now he is gone.
3) Jose Tabata is still a mystery
I still have no idea what to think of the young star. Inked by the Pirates long term last year, Tabata is thought of in the same block as Andrew McCutchen as these players are the only ones signed long term. Pirates.com is trying to pitch him as a Clemente-like figure that they have found, but he needs real development before this conversation is even considered trivial. I like the player Tabata can be: a solid lead off or follow up hitter capable of setting the table for McCutchen or producing runs on his own, but he has yet to show it consistently and his spring numbers (.220/.231/.320) are not promising. (more…)