3 Up, 3 Down: Pierre comes through in clutch
Posted on: June 30, 2011 11:44 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:54 pm
By Matt Snyder
Juan Pierre, White Sox. It's been a rough season for Pierre thus far, but he came through in a big way Thursday. In the top of the eighth, Pierre hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Then, in the top of the tenth, Pierre stepped to bat with the bases loaded and came just a few feet from hitting a grand slam. Mind you, this is a guy with 15 career home runs in over 7,000 plate appearances. He laced a Clayton Mortensen pitch off the high right field wall in Coors Field that was probably about three feet from landing in the seats. Since Paul Konerko was holding on first, Pierre only managed a single, but he did drive in two runs, which proved to be the game-winners. On the day, Pierre went 3-5 with three RBI and a stolen base as the White Sox hung within four games in the AL Central.
Jason Varitek, Red Sox. The venerable backstop used to have pretty good power for a catcher, but he's 39 now and on his last legs. Still, there's a little tread left on those old tires, as Varitek proved with a two-homer game Thursday. He entered the game with only three home runs in 130 plate appearances this season and hasn't hit two in a game since April 10 of last season. It was the 10th two-home run game of his career. Varitek also handled the Red Sox pitching staff from behind the plate to a shutout of the best team in baseball. All in all, well done for the venerable captain.
The Florida Marlins. Let us congratulate the Marlins. For the first time since May 25-26, they have won back-to-back games. In two days, they nearly doubled their win total in the nightmarish month, too. Before the modest winning streak -- can we say two games is a streak? Whatever, I'm doing it here -- the Marlins were 3-23 in June. They close it 5-23. Oh, and don't look now, but here's Hanley Ramirez's line in the past eight games: .355 average, two doubles, a home run, seven RBI, six runs and a .910 OPS. Maybe it was Jack McKeon's tough love, maybe it's hitting cleanup or maybe he was just bound to come out of the season-long slump eventually (probably a combination of the three). Regardless of the reason, it would appear Hanley is coming around.
Giants' offense. It's pretty bad to only get five hits in 13 innings. It's pretty bad to only score one earned run in 13 innings. It's really bad when you look deeper at the circumstances behind the offensive ineptitude, though. Cubs' starter Carlos Zambrano left the game during the second inning with an injury. In came Marcos Mateo and his 5.09 ERA. He was recently recalled from Triple-A. And he dominated the Giants. Mateo needed only 56 pitches to carve through the Giants in five scoreless innings. He only gave up two hits and struck out six. If you can believe it, things got even worse for the Giants' bats. In one stretch, they went 10 1/3 innings without a hit. Oh, and the Cubs came into Thursday with the worst ERA in the NL. Amazingly, the Giants would have won the game if the bullpen didn't blow two saves.
Brewers against Yankees/Red Sox. The Brewers have World Series aspirations this season, so it's a good thing for them it's only the halfway point of the season. In two series against the two best teams in the AL, the Brewers were pretty thoroughly embarrassed. Thursday, former teammate CC Sabathia owned them, as the Yankees cruised to a 5-0 win. The Brewers were outscored 22-4 by the Yankees during the three-game sweep. When the Brewers visited Boston, they lost two of three and were outscored 24-11. Add it up, and you have the Brewers going 1-5 and being outscored by an average of five runs per game. Meanwhile they've fallen back into a first-place tie with the Cardinals, and the Reds and Pirates are only two back.
Brad Mills, Astros. Yes, we're putting a manager from a team that won 7-0 here. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and no one on base, Mills made a pitching change ... and brought in his closer, Mark Melancon. The only earthly explanation for this would be to "get him work," as he'd only pitched once since June 22. Why not the whole ninth, then? Melancon ended up needing only two pitches to end the game. He can get that kind of "work" in the bullpen. The mid-inning pitching change was a waste of time and no good could have possibly come from it.
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