Tag:Pirates
Posted on: July 17, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 7:04 pm
 

On Deck: Rookie looks to keep Indians on top

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jeanmar GomezFILLING IN, HOLDING ON: The Indians called up right-hander Jeanmar Gomez to take the place of Mitch Talbot, who was put on the disabled list after the All-Star break. Gomez has made three starts for Cleveland this year in late April and early May, getting better each time out. He allowed five earned runs in his first start, three in his second and one in his last start, a 5 1/3 inning stint against the A's on May 5 in a no decision. At Triple-A Columbus, the 23-year-old Venezuelan is 9-3 with a 2.40 ERA. His opposite number, Mitch Atkins, has made starts in three levels of the minors and two starts in the big leagues, allowing one run in six innings in his first start, but six runs on seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Sunday. Indians at Orioles, 1:35 p.m. ET (Watch live)

Kevin CorreiaLOOKING TO REBOUND: Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia went to the All-Star Game last week, but he was coming off his worst performance of the season, allowing five runs in just 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Cubs. In his last start, Astros starter Wandy Rodrgiez gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings with five walks in a loss to the Marlins. Pittsburgh started Saturday in first place, only to lose to the Astros and see the Cardinals beat the Reds to regain the top spot in the NL Central. Pirates at Astros, 2:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Shaun MarcumHOME WRECKER: While the Brewers have struggled on the road to the tune of a 17-31 record away from Miller Park, Sunday's starter, Shaun Marcum, has been better away from Milwaukee. The right-hander has a 2.26 ERA on the road, but just a 3-2 record. At home his ERA is more than two runs higher at 4.35, but he has a 4-1 record thanks to more run support. The Rockies look to take three of four from Milwaukee behind Aaron Cook, who is 0-4 with a 5.82 ERA this season. Brewers at Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: July 16, 2011 1:30 am
Edited on: July 16, 2011 9:38 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Phillips stings Cardinals

Brandon Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Brandon Phillips, Reds:Phillips didn't exactly enhance his standing in St. Louis. Already the most hated man in eastern Missouri, Phillips hit a two-out, walk-off homer to give the Reds a 6-5 victory over St. Louis. Phillips had an error that gave St. Louis its first lead off starter Johnny Cueto

Jeff Karstens, Pirates: The Pirates right-hander allowed just five hits and needed only 83 pitches in a shutout victory in Houston, which when coupled with losses by the Cardinals and Brewers catapulted the Pirates into a tie for first place. Seriously, a tie for first place. Karstens became  the first Pirate to win five-straight decisions since 2006 and lowered his ERA to 2.34, third-best in the National League, leapfrogging Roy Halladay.

Eric Hosmer, Royals: With two outs in the ninth, Hosmer took Twins closer Matt Capps deep over the wall in center at Target Field, giving the Royals a 2-1 lead. Closer Joakim Soria made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth, but the Royals held on for the victory. Hosmer now has nine home runs on the season.


Nationals defense: Washington had five errors in Friday's 11-1 loss to the Braves. First baseman Michael Morse had two errors on one play in the first inning and added another later in the game. Morse had just one error in his first six seasons in the big leagues. Shortstop Ian Desmond had another error in the Braves' four-run first. Ryan Zimmerman added the team's fifth miscue later when a ball went between his legs in the sixth.

Hanley Ramirez, Marlins: Usually a player's 1,000th career hit would be a time of celebration. Not for Ramirez, who was slow out of the box on a ball to the gap in the ninth inning. Cubs center-fielder Marlon Byrd made a strong throw to second to nab Ramirez. The Marlins scored their only run of the game one batter later on Logan Morrison's RBI single that should have tied the game at 2. Instead, the Cubs lifted a struggling Carlos Marmol, and Sean Marshall picked up a one-out save for Chicago, ending Florida's six-game winning streak.

Matt Tolbert, Twins: When you come in a pinch-runner, you're supposed to be smart on the basebaths. That's all the Twins ask of Tolbert -- well, that and running faster than Jim Thome -- but he didn't do his job. With one out in the ninth and the Twins trailing 2-1, Tolbert stood on third with Luke Hughes at the plate. Hughes hit a tapper back to the mound, but instead of holding at third, Tolbert was easily thrown out at the plate. One batter later Tsuyoshi Nishioka grounded out to end the game.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:47 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 11:56 pm
 

Pirates move into first place in NL Central

Neil WalkerBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Just because I can, I'm going to type this sentence -- the Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.

And it's true. Wait, it gets better. It's July 15 and the Pirates and the Cleveland Indians are in first place. Who had that at the beginning of the year?

The Pirates beat the Astros behind a shutout from Jeff Karstens, while the Brewers fell to the Rockies and the Reds topped the Cardinals. With Friday's results the Pirates lead the Cardinals by just percentage points -- .5275 to .5269. Milwaukee is a half-game back of the leaders, with the Reds three games back.

I touched on this the other day, but the Pirates are the season's best story and could break the franchise's streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons. The team started off hot then faded a bit, but have hung around and are now 48-43 on the season.

The Indians used two-run homers by Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore to send the Orioles to their ninth straight loss. Cleveland broke its tie with the Tigers when the White Sox put five runs on Justin Verlander for an 8-2 victory in Detroit.

We'll see if either team is there at the end, but at this point, who cares? It's after the All-Star break and the Indians and Pirates are in first place and that's just awesome.

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Posted on: July 13, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 5:32 am
 

Pirates looking beyond .500



By C. Trent Rosecrans


PHOENIX -- The number hounding Pittsburgh baseball since last September is 18.

"Our second baseman Neil Walker wears No. 18 and he's a heck of a player," Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan said. "Is that what you're talking about?"

That response generated laughs, and maybe Hanrahan is so used to the question that he had the stock answer ready. Who wouldn't try to deflect questions about 18 consecutive losing seasons? With a 47-43 record at the All-Star break, Pittsburgh is in position to make sure 19 doesn't become the new standard in U.S. professional sports.

"But really, talking about [Walker], it's fitting, he's from Pittsburgh, born and raised there, and he wears No. 18, maybe there's something there," Hanrahan said. Walker is part of an influx of young talent in Pittsburgh, along with the likes of the flame-throwing Hanrahan and center fielder Andrew McCutchen, 24.

At this week's All-Star Game, the Pirates had three representatives, as Hanrahan and McCutchen were joined by starter Kevin Correia.

"We have more guys that have opportunities to make the team [in the future]," McCutchen said. "Things are changing for us. We're not just here because someone had to represent the team, we're here because we earned the opportunity."

Although McCutchen was a late add to the team, many felt he shouldn't have just been an initial pick, but the National League's starting center fielder. The 24-year-old McCutchen is hitting .291 with 15 homers and 54 RBI and may be the best center fielder in the game.

In fact, it seemed McCutchen got more recognition for not making the team than he did when he finally made it. But that goes to show that even though the fans voting for the All-Star team didn't see fit to pick McCutchen, most observers knew an injustice when they saw it (well, as far as injustices and All-Star games go).

"We had Joel Hanrahan that made the team and he deserved it, but it felt like people were talking and talking and talking about me," McCutchen said. "It was definitely an eye-opener that people felt I should be here."

Many feel he should be back year after year, especially if the Pirates continue to improve, something many expect.

"You can tell there's a different feel over there this year," said the Reds' Jay Bruce. "You have Neil Walker, he's having a great year, Andrew McCutchen is being Andrew McCutchen, he's one of the most exciting players in the game. They're solid, man. They've changed the culture there. The new manager [Clint Hurdle]. They've done a really good job and I don't think they're going anywhere."

Bruce was part of a franchise that had gone nearly a decade without a winning season that stepped up and won its division. That's exactly what the Pirates are hoping to do as they trail the Brewers and Cardinals by just a game in the National League Central. The title is within reach, so there's no reason to just settle for .500.

"It's more for the fans than for us, because that's not our goal. It'd be great for the city, just for them to see that we've done better than we've done for the last 18 years," McCutchen said. "But after that comes and goes, what's next? Nobody's going to be satisfied with that. We're hungry for more, the fans are hungry for more. That's why we don't set our goals to just be over .500. We're hungry to win a championship. If you win a championship, you'll be over .500."

With the Steelers and Penguins having earned titles in recent years, the Pirates would like to turn Western Pennsylvania into the next New England with major titles in several sports.

"We all know the fans are passionate about their sports and knowledgeable about their sports, we said game one, if we start winning, it's going to be like the Steelers' games or the Penguins' games," Hanrahan said. "The fans are there, it's just getting them out of hiding so they aren't embarrassed to come out anymore."

They shouldn't be.

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Posted on: July 10, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 7:51 pm
 

Several more All-Star replacements made

By C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder

David RobertsonPHOENIX -- The revolving door that is the 2011 All-Star Game rosters keeps spinning, as we've got wholesale roster changes to report.

Rays starter David Price is the latest player to pull out of Tuesday's game. He will be replaced by Yankees reliever David Robertson.

Price will be at the game here, but will be inactive for Tuesday's game because of turf toe. Because Price was a manager's selection, American League manager Ron Washington was able to select his replacement.

Alexi OgandoAlso, CC Sabathia was officially removed from the active roster because he started Sunday. His spot goes to the Rangers' Alexi Ogando. Sabathia wasn't an original selection; instead, he was a replacement for the Rays' James Shields, who was also disqualified because he started Sunday -- against Sabathia. Sabathia earned the nod -- which will count on his career ledger as an All-Star selection when Hall of Fame voting comes around -- because he was the next player on the players' ballot.

Likewise, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez were also starting Sunday. Both were player elected, so the next two in line were Michael Pineda of the Mariners and Jon Lester of the Red Sox. So they are both All-Stars. Of course, Lester's on the DL, so he is now replaced by Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays

On the National League side of things, Mets' shortstop Jose Reyes is on the disabled list, and his replacement will be Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Reyes was voted as the starter at shortstop, so manager Bruce Bochy got to pick the replacement. Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco was elected as the starter at third base. He is injured, and he has been replaced by Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero. In turn, Bochy will get to name a starter at third, so it looks as if Sandoval might get the nod there -- though nothing has been made official yet.

Also, Cole Hamels of the Phillies started Sunday, so he is now ineligible to play Tuesday. The next highest vote-getter on the players' ballot is Kevin Correia of the Pirates, so he's in.

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is also apparently headed to Phoenix, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Kimbrel will be taking the place of the Giants' Matt Cain, who is starting for San Francisco on Sunday night, making him ineligible for Tuesday's game.

If there's any confusion as to why the formality is done to elect players when they can't play (Lester, Sabathia, etc.), it's because of salary bonuses for making the team and also resume-building -- for example, Sabathia's case for the Hall of Fame one day will include number of times he was an All-Star.

Finally, Josh Beckett will be available for the All-Star Game. There had been questions on if he'd go due to a recent, minor injury.

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Posted on: July 9, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:12 pm
 

McCutchen, Rolen added to NL All-Star team

By Danny Knobler

Stop complaining about Andrew McCutchen not making the National League All-Star team.

He is on the team. He was added Saturday night after Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun told Major League Baseball that he won't be able to play in Tuesday night's game in Phoenix. Braun has missed the last seven games because of a sore left leg.

Braun led all players in fan balloting for the NL team. McCutchen was 16th among outfielders in that same fan vote, but there was an immediate outcry when he was left off the team -- and another outcry when manager Bruce Bochy chose Andre Ethier to replace the injured Shane Victorino.

McCutchen certainly has numbers worthy of All-Star status, with a .291 batting average, 13 home runs, 49 RBI and 15 steals. He's an exciting player and has played a big part in the Pirates' better-than-expected first half.

Also, Scott Rolen will replace Chipper Jones.

Jones went on the disabled list Saturday and had surgery on a knee that has bothered him for two months. Rolen had next call on a spot because he finished just behind Jones in player balloting.

Rolen is hitting just .245 for the Reds, but third base is an unusually weak position in the National League this year.

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Posted on: July 9, 2011 1:30 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: McKenry's unlikely bomb



By Matt Snyder


Michael McKenry, Pirates. McKenry dug into the batter's box against the Cubs' Carlos Marmol in the bottom of the eighth Friday night with the game tied at four and two men on base. McKenry hit a three-run homer that would be the eventual game-winner. Sure, Marmol is a fickle closer, but he does not cough up the long ball with any semblance of regularity. Check this out: In the past three seasons (coming into Friday night), Marmol had faced 840 hitters and allowed four home runs. Four! McKenry had zero career major-league home runs before the at-bat. He does have 69 minor-league homers, but that's in over 2,000 plate appearances. So this was the longshot of the night. Meanwhile, the Pirates would have been tied for first place had the Reds not blown a lead in the ninth inning. Still, the Bucs sit a game out of first and had a dramatic victory in front of the home fans.

Travis Snider, Blue Jays. The Jays had to have felt a bit deflated after losing on a walk-off grand slam Thursday night to the Indians, but they came back strong with an 11-7 win. Sure, the bullpen tried to blow the game again (it was 8-2 at one point), but the offense was relentless. It pounded out 11 runs on 16 hits. Rajai Davis was great, but Snider stood out for me. He went 3-5 with a double, home run, two runs and five RBI. He's been a promising prospect for a while but never really put things together for an extended stretch. Maybe he's doing so now, because he's hitting .409 with five doubles, a home run and eight RBI since resurfacing in the lineup on July 4.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers. I don't even want to think what he's going through. Had I been the one who tried to toss a ball up into the crowd for a father to give to his young son, and then seen that father plunge to his untimely demise ... well, I don't know. I'm sure I'd keep playing it over and over in my head that had I just not thrown the ball ... Or thrown it higher ... Man, it would be so tough to get past that. It's not Hamilton's fault at all, but it's human nature to start thinking about things like that. He heard the boy screaming for his Daddy, for God's sake. How can you get through that? And Hamilton showed up for work Friday and answered all the questions with grace and sensitivity. He played in the Rangers' 8-5 win, too. Kudos to him for keeping himself together and let's hope that continues.



Zach Britton, Orioles. It would be safe to say the future ace has hit the proverbial wall. Through nine starts, Britton had a 2.14 ERA and easily would have been a Rookie of the Year candidate. He had a quality start next time out. Since then, however, it's been ugly. From May 29 leading into Friday, Britton had a 5.35 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. And then Friday night was a catastrophe. Britton only recorded two outs while allowing six hits, two walks and eight runs. At age 23, and with the Orioles going absolutely nowhere this year, it's worth thinking about optioning him to Triple-A to salvage some confidence.

Brian Wilson, Giants. I thought people feared the beard? Maybe Wilson needs to just finally give in and shave. Friday night, he entered with a tie game in the ninth inning against the Mets. He coughed up a home run to Scott Hairston and took the loss. In Wilson's past five outings, he's blown two saves and has Friday's loss. His ERA in those games is 7.20 and twice he's been pulled before finishing an inning on his own. Maybe he's overworked, but the only people fearing this small sample are Giants fans who realize the offense isn't good enough to overcome Wilson faltering.

Padres' offense. One week ago, almost to the minute, I posted that the Padres would make dubious history before the All-Star break. They did Friday night. They have now been shutout 14 times before the All-Star break, which amounts to 15.6 percent of the time they suit up. No team in recent memory has been so futile offensively. The closest match was the 2004 Expos, who were shutout 13 times before the break.

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Offense rules in NL Central

By C. Trent Rosecrans
2011 All-Star Game

SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

The National League Central has the most teams, some of the game's brightest stars and perhaps its best story in the Pittsburgh Pirates. How deep is the talent in the NL Central? The last two men to win the National League MVP are first basemen in the division and neither makes this NL Central All-Star team. The pitching isn't too deep, at least in terms of starters, but this lineup can absolutely mash the ball.

Ramon HernandezC Ramon Hernandez, Reds: This one is a surprise, as Yadier Molina -- perhaps the game's best defensive catcher -- is an All-Star and a deserving one at that. But the nod here goes to the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calls "Clutch Man Monie." On opening day, his three-run homer gave the Reds a walk-off victory and he's been producing at the plate since, including a ninth-inning homer yesterday against Brewers closer John Axford and the delivered the game's winning hit in the 13th inning Wednesday night in St. Louis. Hernandez's overall line -- .316/.374/.526 -- makes up for the difference between his defense and Molina's. Molina is hitting a respectable .279/.329/.408, but Clutch Man Monie has been money, especially for a player who is still essentially splitting time with Ryan Hanigan.

Prince Fielder1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but Prince Fielder's been the league's MVP for the first half of this season. Fielder is hitting .302/.418/.588 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI, tied for the most in the league. Votto's been good as well, but Fielder's power numbers put him over the top. So why is Votto listed here instead of Fielder? Because as I filled out the lineup card, I looked and had Votto as DH and Fielder at first. Anyone who has seen those two with gloves on their hand know you'd rather have Votto (especially with Starlin Castro also in the infield) playing the field. So Fielder wins the spot, but Votto gets the nod, if that makes sense.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Andrew McCutchen PIT CF
2 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B
3 Joey Votto CIN 1B
4 Prince Fielder MIL DH
5 Lance Berkman STL RF
6 Ryan Braun MIL LF
7 Aramis Ramirez CHI 3B
8 Ramon Hernandez CIN C
9 Starlin Castro CHI SS

Rickie Weeks2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Another Brewer nips a Red. While Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is far and away a better defensive player, Weeks is having an incredible offensive season so far. Weeks is hitting .275/.345/.476 with 15 home runs. Phillips has 10 more RBI, but that's not all that surprising considering Weeks is used as a leadoff man. 

Aramis Ramirez3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: It's easy for Ramirez to get lost among the Cubs' mounting losses, but the 33-year-old is having a solid season, which may be his last with the Cubs. The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, with a $2 million buyout. The Ricketts family may want to find a cheaper option, but Ramirez has produced this year, hitting .298/.346/.495 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also playing a decent third base, much better than his reputation would suggest. 

Starlin CastroSS Starlin Castro, Cubs: Sure, he's a mess defensively, but the kid can absolutely rake. Castro is hitting .305/.334/.428 with two home runs and 38 RBI, while stealing 10 bags as well. The 21-year-old is the player the Cubs will build around in the future, and for good cause. He also doesn't have a lot of competition in this division. The Pirates' Ronny Cedeno has been good defensively, but lacking offensively. The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot is hitting well, but was a below-average defensive second baseman and now he's playing short and then there's Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been terrible offensively and defensively.

LF Ryan Braun, Brewers: Talk about a stacked offensive division -- in left field you've got Matt Holliday and Braun. Braun, though gets the nod. He's been healthy (of course, Holliday's problems may make his numbers more impressive) and produced, hitting .320/.402/559 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. He's also stolen 19 bases to boot.

Andrew McCutchenCF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: If Bruce Bochy doesn't want him, I'll sure as heck take him as my starter in center. A Gold Glove-caliber fielder, plus a .291/.389/.491 slash line and 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. McCutchen should be in the MVP discussion with the season he's had. If it weren't for McCutchen, Michael Bourn would be the pick. Bourn's hitting .288/.350/.399 with 35 stolen bases. Between those two and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs, you could put together a heck of a relay team.

Lance BerkmanRF Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Sure he's a first baseman playing in the outfield, but who cares because he's made up for his atrocious defense with an offensive rebirth. The Cardinals gambled on Berkman this offseason and have been rewarded to the tune of .287/.399/.598 with a league-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The division also has Jay Bruce, Corey Hart and Hunter Pence, so it has right fielders to spare (not to mention Jon Jay, who played right field while Berkman was playing first for Albert Pujols.)

Prince FielderDH Prince Fielder, Brewers: This is a bit of a cheat, since I initially picked Fielder at first base. The decision here was between Votto and Holliday, and in a toss-up, I went with the reigning MVP, although either has a good case. Votto's hitting .319/.434/.497 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI, while Holliday is hitting .320/.417/.570 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI. Votto's seen fewer pitches to drive than he did a year ago, but is still producing. And once I was filling out the lineup card, I went with Votto at first base and Fielder as the DH.

Johnny CuetoSP Johnny Cueto, Reds: This division doesn't have a Cy Young candidate in the bunch, but does have several good young pitchers, including the 25-year-old Cueto, who started the season on the disabled list but is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and one of the best young left-handers in the game and Chicago's Matt Garza has been a victim of pitching for the Cubs, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and an xFIP of 2.86.

Sean MarshallRP Sean Marshall, Cubs: The Cubs' left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, while walking just nine. His xFIP is 2.27 and he's induced ground balls on 60.4 percent of the balls put in play, a good characteristic for a middle reliever, who will often come into the game with runners on base. Apologies to the Reds' Bill Bray and the Cardinals' Jason Motte.

Joel HanrahanCL Joel Hanrahan, Pirates: Hanrahan leads the division in saves with 25 and hasn't blown a single save this season.  Of the eight runners he's inherited this year, none of scored. He has 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings and eight walks. He's allowed just six earned runs (good for a 1.37 ERA). The division has several good starters, including the Reds' Francisco Cordero (17 saves, 1.69 ERA), the Brewers' John Axford (23 saves, 2.90 ERA) and the Cardinals' Fernando Salas (15 saves, 2.41 ERA).

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