Game 16: Volquez Outlasts Gallardo, Pirates Add On, Win, 11-2

Posted by @ 04.18.14

Through the top of the 7th, this was a well-played, close game. Yovani Gallardo kept the Pirates mostly at bay, apart from a 2-run bomb from Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates did, however, manage to work 4 walks against him, drive up his pitch count, and chase him after 6 innings.

The Brewers seem to have a good thing going with their ‘pen when they have the lead, but they are vulnerable outside of their top couple of guys. For instance, in a tie game, the Brewers brought in virtual unknown Rob Wooten; he barely has a wikipedia page. He gave up a single to Jordy Mercer, owner of 3 big league steals, and couldn’t concentrate on anything other than keeping Mercer on first and how a collaboratively-edited, multilingual, free online encyclopedia could have so little to say of him. Wooten threw, what felt like, a dozen times to first. In his rare, carefree moments on the mound, Wooten managed to throw enough pitches to Harrison to get two strikes on him, dashing his dreams of bunting against the metaphorical rocks. Harrison responded by flipping the switch from bunting to raking.

JHayHR

What a swing. The laser shot managed to sneak in just to the right of the left field foul pole, giving the Pirates a 4-2 lead.

The Pirates added another run off of Wooten in the 7th before blowing up the Brew Crew in the 8th. Wei Chung-Wang, a pitcher that the Pirates were unfortunate to lose in the rule 5 draft, came in just so Gaby and Pedro could take him out. Gaby homered, Jordo singled, Tabata doubled, Marte singled, Cutch recorded an out somehow, and Pedro homered. When the dust settled, the game was a laugher, 11-2.

Of course, there are a couple other things of note here. Volquez had a rough first couple of innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk in the first three frames. He was fortunate to only give up the pair of runs. After that, he went on a roll and worked pretty effortlessly through the 7th. Volquez didn’t have his best command tonight, but he only issued one walk (only his 4th of the year). So there’s that.

Russell Martin snuffed out some would-be jams by throwing out a pair of base-stealers, in Lucroy and Scooter Gennett. He is a boss.

The early (and really only) offense off of Gallardo came by way of the aforementioned monster bomb from Cutch in the bottom of the 1st inning. It was his first of the year and, since Starling Marte was on base, it counted for TWO runs. The sound off of the bat was LITERALLY not unlike a lion’s roar. Times a billion.

Cutch 1st HR

Gallardo was stunned, though he managed to puke and rally before pitching another 5 innings. His crazy eyes, unkempt facial hair, history of alcoholism, and look of angry confusion strongly suggest that he is a vagabond at heart. “Not tonight, Yovani! Pack up your bindle and leave,” sprach McCutchen.

Gallardo Stunned

RTJR!

Lohse and Morton rematch tonight at 7:05 pm.


Filed under: BossMart, Home Run Derby, Lion's Roar Times a Billion, revengeance No Comments

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Anywhere Other than Miller Park

Posted by @ 04.17.14

I kid, I kid. I never really bought into the “House of Horrors” stuff and I certainly don’t after last week’s sweep, given that all three games were highly competitive. But home-field advantage is definitely a thing, and it’s probably more pronounced for the Pirates than most teams, given the peculiarities of PNC Park and the deliberate way the roster has been constructed with the park in mind.

All of this is another way of saying: we get to play the Brewers right away again, and this time, it’s on our turf. Except we don’t play on turf. But you know what I meant. Stop making this difficult.

This time the series is four games, and Milwaukee’s early-season pitching-driven high-wire act is already (predictably) falling back to earth a little (though if the Fangraphs comments section is any indication, their fans are totally delusional about the significance of their hot start). The Brewers were drubbed 10-1 combined in the first two games against St. Louis before pulling out a win yesterday.

They face a struggling Pirates team that’s 7-8, and probably should be thankful for even that. The pitching is far sketchier than last year, and the hitting looks a little better–just as pretty much everyone predicted. But the latter is coming in bursts that don’t feel sustainable, whereas the former feels like it could be a problem all year. The Bucs are still prone, based on yesterday’s game against Cueeeeeee-toooooo, to being sporadically dominated by good-but-not-great pitchers.

Whether or not the Brewers have any guys that qualify is an open question. Here are the matchups:

  • Thursday (Today): Volquez vs. Gallardo, 7:05 PM
  • Friday: Morton vs. Lohse, 7:05 PM
  • Saturday: Garza vs. Rodriguez, 7:05 PM
  • Sunday: Cole vs. Estrada, 1:35 PM

Only Saturday’s matchup looks particularly discouraging at the moment. Tonight our fifth starter goes against their first, but then, that actually turned out okay last time.

One of the ways that moderately good teams (which is probably what the Pirates are this year) sneak into the playoffs is by playing disproportionately well in games against the teams challenging them for playoff spots. The Brewers may very well be such a team.


Filed under: game threads, revengeance No Comments

Assorted Links for a Snowy (?!) Day

Posted by @ 04.15.14

The Pirates are set to resume their home run derby with the Reds at 5:30 pm today. The game was suspended due to rain last night after Cincinnati tied the game at 7 at the end of the 7th inning. It should be well-known by now that the Pirates have hit 6 home runs so far – all of which were solo shots – and the Reds hit 4 themselves. Here is footage of all 10.

Perhaps overshadowed by the Pirates-Reds was the exciting Braves-Phillies tilt. The Phillies rallied for 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th to take a 1 run lead before Dan Uggla hit, what became, the game-winning grand slam. [DeadSpin]

Some insight and perspective on what to make of the Milwaukee Brewers’ quick start. [FanGraphs]

Former Pirate reliever, Jesse Chavez, has excelled in his new role as a starter. Here’s why: [FanGraphs]

Using mathematics and whimsy, Carson Cistulli at FanGraphs ranked all 30 MLB teams’ home plate camera. Rise up and witness how un-canted our camera angles indeed are in Pittsburgh. [NotGraphs]

MLB outfielder, and dope, Jeff Francouer, was recently duped into believing that his Triple A teammate was deaf for an entire month. [TheBigLead]


Filed under: Links! No Comments

A Red Letter Day

Posted by @ 04.15.14

Today is Tax Day; and Jackie Robinson Day! Celebrate accordingly.

 


Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Pirates Hit Six Homers, All Solo

Posted by @ 04.15.14

Last night’s game was insane…or will be when it’s completed. It was delayed while tied, 7-7. They’ll finish it today at 5:30.

The Pirates now have 18 homers on the season. 15 of them have been solo shots.

not_sure_if_homers

Filed under: Aggravated Manslaughterer's Row No Comments

Games 13–15 Preview: Pirates @ Reds

Posted by @ 04.14.14

A hot topic of conversation over the off-season was not if the Pirates would regress in 2014, but rather how much would they regress. The consensus was that the Pirates outplayed their peripherals and won an extra half-dozen games or so. That knowledge, coupled with the losses of AJ Burnett, Marlon Byrd, and Justin Morneau led many to believe that the Pirates would struggle this season. Whether or not that is true still remains to be seen; the first 12 games of the year are usually not a bellwether for the next 150 (hear that, Milwaukee?).

Though, it’s interesting how a team very closely-related to the Pittsburgh Pirates were not scrutinized in the same way. Flying well under the radar in the regression department were the Cincinnati Reds. Their only major change of the off-season was replacing Shin-Soo Choo with the speedy Billy Hamilton. Even if the latter meets the insane 100+ SB expectations laid before him, it is unlikely that he will be able to replace Choo’s 20/20, .400 OBP-level production. So far, Hamilton’s gotten off to a slow start, but his .200 BABIP suggests that he’s due to improve. We saw his ability to take over a game with his foot speed at the end of last season, but over a full season can he keep his OBP high enough to merit sticking around at the top of the order? If Hamilton struggles, the Reds do not have a very imposing lineup. Joey Votto practically intentionally walks himself and Jay Bruce is prone to slumps of Alvarezian heights (nadirs?). The rest of the lineup is pretty lousy – Frazier, Philips, Ludwick, and Mesoraco.

Homer Bailey, the recipient of a 6 yr/$105 MM extension, takes the mound tonight against Wandy Rodriguez. Both have gotten off to poor starts in 2013. Wandy struggled in a pair of starts against the Cubs, with his primary concern being the 3 home runs that he’s allowed to date. Homer Bailey’s faced the Cardinals in both of his 2014 starts. He’s been plagued by a high walk rate, low K rate, and has been very hittable (allowing 16 base hits in just under 10 innings). Luck should help out the hit rate, though the Reds have to be alarmed by his walk and K rates to date. Tonight could be a high-scoring affair. Hopefully the Pirates can come out on top.

Let’s go Bucs!

The pitching match-ups:

Wandy Rodriguez vs. Homer Bailey, 7:10 pm tonight

Gerrit Cole vs. Mike Leake, 7:10 pm Tuesday

Francisco Liriano vs. Johnny CUUUUUUUEEEEEETOO, 12:35 pm Wednesday


Filed under: Series Preview No Comments

Thank Goodness the Pirates Play Again Today

Posted by @ 04.14.14

One of the nicest things about baseball, to me, is how relentless it is. Over a six-month period there’s about a 90% chance your team has a game on any given day. It’s a marathon, and that’s a nice change of pace from other sports (especially football), where each game is a big deal and there are often sizable gaps from one to the next. That means the tough losses have a long time to fester.

Lots of teams have the day off today, but thankfully, the Pirates aren’t one of them. I say thankfully not just because Pirates baseball is generally enjoyable, but because when your team’s just been swept, the only way to feel better about it is for them to keep playing and win. I’m glad we don’t have an entire day to stew in the Milwaukee series, and talk about how easily we could have taken any of the three games, or about how we played them better than most of the teams they’ve been steamrolling in the early going.

That’s all true, and the outcome really shouldn’t be especially discouraging given the way it happened. But it will be anyway, so it’s just as well we don’t have to tell ourselves those things for too long.

But remember, kids: individual series’ are artificial constructs based around travel constraints and the linear nature of time, not windows into the team’s collective soul.

First pitch is tonight at 7:05 PM.


Filed under: everybody calm down, everything is terrible, frustration mounting No Comments

Game 11 Recap: Frustration Mounting, Brewers Win

Posted by @ 04.12.14

This was a frustrating loss, plain and simple. The Pirates didn’t have many chances in this game, but after scoring a pair off of Gallardo in the 3rd, the Pirates couldn’t cash in. McCutchen was stranded at 3rd after doubling with one out in the 6th and ended the 8th on a baffling play. With runners at 1st and 3rd and the game tied at 2, McCutchen fouled out to the catcher to make the 2nd out. On the catch, Snider tagged up to take 2nd base to try to create an opportunity for Marte to steal home. Jean Segura alertly threw home to narrowly get the out at home.

It was a gamble and, in hindsight, not a very good one. Though, knowing that Pedro was on deck and a lefty specialist was looming, I would suspect that the odds of plating the run on a double steal were greater than the odds of Pedro recording a hit.

Of course, the Brewers wasted a pretty good chance to score in the 7th. Khris “with a K” Davis hit into what should have been a fly out to Cutch, but he recorded his error for the year. Davis wasn’t running very hard and only ended up at 1st. Mark Reynolds walked and Scooter Gennett bunted the runners to 2nd and 3rd, setting up an opportunity for Rickie Weeks to be the hero. He hit a fly ball to Marte, but Khris “with a K” psyched himself out and inexplicably did not tag up. He was the only person in the ballpark who didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing on the play. The Pirates escaped the jam, before they scored the winning run in the 8th. Melancon got Segura out right away before allowing three straight singles, two to the opposite field, to cede the winning run.

Loss to the vile Brewers aside, it is important to remember that Edinson Volquez delivered a second excellent start. He yielded two runs – one earned – on four hits and two walks while striking out 4. The earned run came by way of a solo homer to Carlos Gomez, the first batter that he faced; he otherwise kept a very potent offense at bay. With concerns regarding Wandy, Volquez’s good start should be very relieving to everyone.

Charlie Morton takes the hill tomorrow against Kyle Lohse in the hopes of avoiding the sweep.


Filed under: frustration mounting, game threads No Comments

Game 10 Recap: Bernie Brewer a Deux, Pirates Lose

Posted by @ 04.12.14

Of all of the National League teams, the Milwaukee Brewers are possibly the most problematic match-up for left-handed starting pitchers. With that knowledge, it was worrisome that the not-yet-unbeatable Francisco Liriano opposed the Brewers in Milwaukee last night. Most of those fears were washed away when Liriano retired the first 9 batters that he faced, striking out five of them. It, however, only created a false sense of hope.

In the amount of time that it took me to make a beer run, the Brewers struck for 4 runs. The tenth batter that Liriano faced, the repugnant Carlos Gomez, came back from an 0-2 hole to draw a walk. With two outs, the eternal Aramis Ramirez deposited a ball behind the center field wall. The 5th inning was stupid and aggravating. Mark Reynolds homered and Rickie Weeks, who managed to not be a liability yesterday, scored after doubling.

Having what figures to be an average offense is really frustrating some nights, like the ones where Wily Peralta mows down your batters. That was, for the most part, last night. The Pirates managed to put up a 2-spot in the 7th off of Peralta, via Neil Walker blast, before he turned the game over to the bullpen, but it was too late. Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez made quick work of the Pirates in the 8th and 9th. The final score was 4-2.

So far, Bernie Brewer has taken two trips down the slide at the Pirates’ (and also my) expense.

Tonight promises to be an intriguing game. Long-time Pirate-Vanquisher and alcoholic, Yovani Gallardo, takes the hill against Pirate Reclamation Project 2.0, Edinson Volquez. Gallardo is off to an impressive start in 2014 pitching nearly 13 shutout innings in his first two starts, while the latter was equally tantalizing in his lone start against the St. Louis Cardinals six days ago.


Filed under: Bernie-the-Brewer-shaped demons, game threads, Neil Walker, Ryan Braun is terrible, Unbridled Alcoholism No Comments

Games 10-12 Preview: Pirates @ Brewers

Posted by @ 04.11.14

There are many things in this world, lots of objects, actions, concepts, and combinations thereof. Hundreds, possibly. It would take several hours to make an exhaustive list, one can be sure. Shorter than that list, though still lengthy in its own regard, is the list of things that I hate. Should the latter list ever be made, the reader would learn that I hate things like wet socks, intolerance, and long lines. Also, sure to be observed, in successive entries would be: The Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Brewers’ success, Bernie Brewer, Bernie Brewer going down that damn slide . . .

That is an awful, infuriating sight for me; I loathe it.

The Pirates are going to Milwaukee for the weekend for three games against the first place Brewers. Milwaukee has gotten off to a fast start this season, having won six in a row in Boston and Philadelphia after dropping two of three to the Braves. Ryan Braun, the Scumbag, appears to have returned to form and has joined one of the best lineups in baseball, including: Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy, and Khris “With a K” Davis. Though, surprisingly, it’s been pitching that has propelled the Brewers to their 7-2 start. Yovani Gallardo hasn’t given up a run in either start this year and Garza, Lohse, Estrada have started well.

It is, of course, early, but the Brewers completely flew under the radar this offseason. They signed Matt Garza and dealt Norichika Aoki, an expendable player, for bullpen depth. By most accounts, they have the second worst farm system in baseball, behind the Angels, so there is no depth to speak of for Milwaukee. That said, barring major injuries (or suspensions to Braun again LOL), they look like they can hang with anybody in the NL Central.

Liriano is getting the start against Wily Peralta tonight. The Brewers only have one lefty batter in their lineup, Scooter Gennett, so this will be a pretty tough challenge for Francisco tonight. Peralta’s only pitched 5 innings this year (2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K) against the Red Sox. He figures to be lousy, but this is why we play the games.

Pitching match-ups:

Francisco Liriano vs. Wily Peralta, 8:10 pm tonight

Edinson Volquez vs. Yovani Gallardo, 7:10 pm Saturday

Charlie Morton vs. Kyle Lohse, 2:10 pm Sunday


Filed under: Series Preview No Comments

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