Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

The Beanball Solution – Two Bases For Above the Waist

Major League Baseball has a problem. Pitchers are coming in high and tight to the brightest hitters in the game with zero fear of retribution. The only real protection offered is the fear of retaliation against one of their own. But pitchers are obviously willing to go over that line, and a culture of vigilantism that leads to a tit for tat response to hit batsmen only causes these incidents to escalate in very dangerous ways. Reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen has seen a steady diet of pitches this season targeting his upper body. He has already been injured once this season as the result of a pitch from Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Randall Delgado that hit McCutchen in the ribs. The Diamondbacks felt the need to retaliate for a pitch from Pirates’ reliever Ernesto Frieri that broke Paul Goldschmidt‘s hand. And that hasn’t been the only time McCutchen has been thrown at. Pirate pitchers have hit more batters than any team in baseball this year. That makes for a lot of angry opponents that feel their only means of recourse is to throw at Cutch in retaliation. So that leaves Andrew McCutchen as a man under fire.
What I find interesting during these beanball occurrences is that the pitchers never suffer. They always get to fire the weapon but never have to worry about taking cover. When Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face the other night by Mike Fiers, the man that had to take the punishment was Carlos Gomez. Seldom do you see a pitcher getting drilled for his own actions. Frankly, there is very little opportunity to take action against a pitcher that is plunking batters. It isn’t even a possibility in the American League due to the designated hitter rule, and even in the NL relievers never hit and starters rarely get more than 2 ABs a game.
There is a school of thought in baseball amongst pitchers that they must pitch inside to be successful, and there is no reason for them not do it aggressively. If a pitch gets away from them and plunks the batter the only penalty is the batter is awarded first base. That is an extremely light punishment and does not deter pitchers from throwing inside. To truly stop pitchers from wildly throwing up and in to hitters the penalties for missing in that location needs to be more severe. My solution is to change the rule so that if a pitch hits a batter above the waist the batter is awarded two bases. I believe this penalty would be severe enough to force pitchers to pitch more cautiously inside. Pitchers can still pitch inside if they want, but they would have to do so with more precision. I also believe this rule change would have a psychological impact that would lessen the desire of an opponent to retaliate for a hit batsman. Teams tend to be more inclined to retaliate if they feel hitting a batter was purposeful. If the penalties for hitting a batter were more severe opponents would be less likely to view a hit by pitch as intentional.
I am very much a baseball traditionalist that loathes the idea of most rule changes. But the game has already changed so much and sometimes that necessitates a rule change. Pitchers are throwing harder than ever before. Since pitchers seldom hit in this era they face the consequences for hitting a batter less than ever before. Star players are being put in serious jeopardy and the league is doing nothing to protect them. It is becoming evident that the game can no longer police itself simply thru fear of retaliation. That has to change or more stars like Giancarlo Stanton are going to be injured from high inside fastballs that get away from pitchers. It is time to create a real deterrent for hitting batters in dangerous areas. It is time time to make the penalty two bases for a hit by pitch above the waist.

Curve Balls No Longer Kryptonite for Starling Marte

Starling Marte has been red hot since returning from the Disabled List on August 5th. Over his last 32 games he has a triple slash line of .342/.402/.575. But there is more to these numbers from Marte than just a hot stretch. He seems like a completely different hitter. Marte has made adjustments to cut down on his whiffs considerably. Prior to his stint on the DL with a concussion Marte struck out 27.3% of the time. Since returning from the DL his K% has dropped to 18.2%.

The biggest factor in Starling Marte’s improved ability to make contact is better recognition of breaking balls. Curve balls are no longer kryptonite to Starling Marte. Prior to his concussion Marte whiffed on 20.4% of all breaking balls thrown to him. Since returning from the DL he has swung and missed on just 12.7% of breaking balls he has seen. Some of the improvement is simply from being more selective at the plate. But the vast majority is from recognizing the breaking pitches and adjusting his swing accordingly. Marte has cut his whiffs on swings at breaking balls from 40% to 27%. Here is the break down on Marte’s whiff rates on sliders and curve balls before and after returning from the DL on 8/5:

Breaking pitches Swings Swing Rate whiffs whiff rate whiff/swing ratio
Prior to 8/5

383 197 51.4% 78 20.4% 39.6%
After 8/5

118 55 46.6% 15 12.7% 27.3%


The numbers clearly show that Starling Marte has improved against sliders and curve balls. To me he also passes the eye test, and that has been most apparent in his recent ABs against Adam Wainwright. In the past two weeks the Pirates have faced Adam Wainwright twice. Wainwright is known for his plus breaking pitch. He has basically owned Marte the past two seasons, but in their most recent clash on September 2nd Marte took Waino deep, and Marte has not struck out against Wainwright in either of the last two games he faced him. He looks like a whole new Starling Marte…one that isn’t baffled by breaking balls.

Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 9-1-14 thru 9-7-14

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 9/1/14 thru 9/7/14, the 23rd week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 baseball season.

Weekly result: 3 wins and 3 Losses, 28 Runs Scored and 19 Runs Allowed

Hero of the week: Neil Walker. Walker was 9 for 28 with 5 extra base hits this week. He got the winning rally started in Saturday’s suspended game with a 1 out double in the 11th inning. He eventually scored the winning run. On Sunday Walker hit a first inning bomb to stake the Pirates to an early two run lead in a game the Pirates would win 10-4.

Zero of the week: Jeff Locke. Locke had an absolutely miserable outing in a loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday. He was knocked out of the game in the 4th inning after allowing 5 runs and 5 walks in just 3+ innings.

How do you spell relief? J-O-H-N H-O-L-D-Z-K-O-M. John Holdzkom made quite a first impression by pitching two innings of scoreless relief and striking out 5 batters while picking up his first major league save.

#HURDLED: Josh Harrison has more extra base hits than any player in baseball since the all-star break. Josh Harrison was named National League player for the month of August. On Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals Josh Harrison was asked to sacrifice bunt in the 8th inning of a 0-0 tie game. Hey Clint, WTF?


Cannonballs: Andrew McCutchen (2), Russell Martin, Jordy Mercer (3), Starling Marte, Neil Walker, Gerrit Cole

The little things that matter: The Pirates lost two games this week in large part because their starting pitchers couldn’t take advantage of the automatic out that bats last in the Cardinals batting order. On Monday the Pirates staked Gerrit Cole to an early 3-0 lead. Cole allowed a leadoff single in the third inning to Lance Lynn. The Cards would add two runs in the inning to get back into the game. Lynn is batting just .061 on the season. The Pirates ended up losing the game 5-4. On Tuesday Adam Wainwright had a 2 RBI single and an RBI ground out against Jeff Locke. The Pirates would lose that game 6-4. Not getting opposing pitchers out hurt the Pirates dearly.


It must be Hidden Vigorish: Gerrit Cole crushed a ball into the left field seats at Wrigley Cow Pasture on Sunday afternoon. It marked the first home run by a Pirates pitcher since Ross Ohlendorf went yard on 9/15/2011 at Dodgers Stadium


Stats that blow my mind: The Pirates lead the National League with a .329 On Base Percentage.


Records and Milestones: John Holdzkom made his major league debut on Tuesday and struck out all three batters he faced. It was just the 23rd time in MLB history that a pitcher has made such a debut. Holdzkom then earned his first major league save later in the week. Not bad for a guy that was toiling in independent ball just a few short months ago.


He said what: Cubs manager Rick Renteria has become quite a fan of Josh Harrison:

He’s a gifted baseball player. He does a lot of little things. Surprisingly, he shows you some speed, some pop, some tremendously acute aptitude for the game. He’s flexible — they can move him around. He’s a kid who, from what I understand, is a very hard worker and very driven and doesn’t take anything for granted.


Tweet of the week: Clint Hurdle is finally grasping that desperate times call for desperate measures.


Front Office Notes: The suits spent the week trying to hide from yet another public relations nightmare. I don’t think the Pirates really mean to extort kids. Regardless, this organization is good at creating P.R snafus.


On The Farm: The Bradenton Marauders were swept two games to none by the Fort Myers Miracles in the semi-finals of the Florida State League. Tyler Glasnow struggled in Game 1 by allowing 6 earned runs and 6 walks in just 3 innings.

Highlight of the week: Another week and another JHay highlight. In this one he drives in the go ahead run to give the Pirates the win over the Cubs in the contest that was suspended on Friday. This was a very big win for the Pirates. It snapped a 4 game losing streak:



Pirates Still Within Reach of the Second Mild Card

Fresh off of getting swept in St. Louis by the Cardinals the Pirates can now kiss all of their hopes of winning the NL Central goodbye. The Pirates have one remaining path to the playoffs and that involves edging out Milwaukee and Atlanta for the second Wild Card. First off let’s get the notion out of the way that the second Wild Card is some grand achievement. The National League Wild Card race is a joke this season. The fact that in the last month the Pirates have endured a 7 game losing streak, are now mired in a 4 game losing streak, and are still very much in the thick of the Wild Card race with a just a 71-68 record is all the evidence you need to convict the National League of being very soft this season. Let’s stop calling it the second Wild Card and refer to what it really is…..The NL Mild Card.
So what are the Pirates chances of sneaking into the playoffs via the Mild Card? Surprisingly pretty good. Fangraphs.com estimates the Pirates odds of earning the Mild Card at 27.8%. The Braves odds are 41.9% and the Brewers odds are 32%. The Braves and Brewers each have a 73-67 record. The Pirates trail them by 1.5 games, but the Bucs are only 1 game back in the loss column. It is very possible 86 wins will be enough to claim the Mild Card. The Braves and Brewers have 22 games remaining. They would have to go 13-9 to get to 86 wins. The Brewers have been in a free fall. They’ve lost 9 straight games and have generally played poor baseball all year after a hot start in April. They also have a fairly difficult remaining schedule that includes 6 more games with the Cardinals, 4 against the no slouch Marlins, and a 3 game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. It is hard to see the Brewers surviving. The Braves have been up and down all season. Their schedule is no picnic either. They have 6 more games against the team with the best record in the National League, the Washington Nationals. In the final week of the season the Braves square off for a 4 game series with the Pirates in Atlanta. That series will have huge implications on deciding which team wins the Mild Card.
For the Pirates to get to 86 wins they would need to go 15-8 in their final 23 games. But the Pirates have an easier schedule on paper. 16 of their remaining 23 games are against the Cubs, Phillies, and Red Sox. All three of those teams are last place clubs, though it should be noted all three have been playing good baseball as of late. The other 7 games the Pirates have are against the Braves and Brewers – the two teams they are chasing for the Mild Card. If the Pirates win those two series they very likely will make the playoffs. No matter how we got here the Pirates are still playing meaningful September baseball. It will be interesting to see if they have what it takes to back into the playoffs as the NL Mild Card.

Why Does The Cole Train Stop After 6 Innings?

For the second time in a week Gerrit Cole, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ ace in training, faltered in the 7th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 26th Cole pitched 6 shutout innings before the Cards led off the 7th with a pair of hits. With his pitch count elevated to 108 manager Clint Hurdle pulled Cole from the game. Tony Watson would later allow the inherited runners to score. Yesterday Cole was much more efficient with his pitches. He entered the 7th inning with the Pirates holding a 4-2 lead and his pitch count sitting at just 76. But once again Cole failed to get through the 7th inning. Kolten Wong delivered a pinch hit game tying 2-run homer. Jon Jay followed with a triple. That would be the end of Gerrit Cole’s day.

This continues a troubling trend where Gerrit Cole struggles to go beyond the 6th inning. In fact, he hasn’t been all that good after 5 innings this season. His ERA thru the first 5 innings is 3.21. After the 5th inning his ERA swells to 6.42. His ERA in the 7th inning this season is a whopping 7.94. This basically follows the same pattern as his rookie season. His ERA in the 7th inning last year was 5.40.

So what gives? Is Cole running out gas and thus less effective? Or is he just a 6 inning pitcher? I don’t think endurance is the issue. Today on the Triblive.com Buccos Blog Travis Sawchik made an interesting observation about Cole’s pitch selection and over reliance on the fastball. Nearly 68% of Cole’s pitches are fastballs. He has used his change up only 4.1% of the time. Cole is leaning too heavily on his fastball and as Travis Sawchik posits that might be because of all the time Cole missed this season due to injuries. He simply has not had enough opportunities this season to work on refining his change up. So he reverts back to the pitch he trusts – the fastball. Cole has a terrific fastball that works well for him the first couple of turns thru the order. But once the lineup flips over for the third time in a game hitters are on to him. Here is the OPS against Cole each time thru the order:

1st AB – .671
2nd AB – .608
3rd AB – .928

It is hard to envision Cole gaining trust in his off speed pitches at this juncture of the season. That is something to work on next year in Spring Training. For now it just might be better for the manager to limit Cole’s exposure to the latter innings. Given the Pirates bullpen woes this season lifting Cole after 6 innings isn’t a great alternative either. But if the Cole Train keeps running out of steam in the 7th inning what option does Hurdle really have?

Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 8-25-14 thru 8-31-14

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 8/25/14 thru 8/31/14, the 22nd week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 baseball season.

Weekly result: 4 wins and 2 Losses, 17 Runs Scored and 12 Runs Allowed

Hero of the week: Josh Harrison just continues to amaze everyone. He is the spark plug at the top of the order. Harrison had 10 hits in 24 ABs this week including two more home runs. On Friday night against the Reds, Harrison knocked in the game tying run with a triple in the 8th inning and then scored the winning run. But JHay doesn’t get this award from his offense alone. He made 5 or 6 sensational defensive plays this week. Many were run saving plays at crucial points in the game. Honorable mention has to go to Ike Davis who crushed huge home runs in two straight games in wins over the Cardinals. But Harrison was a factor all week long in every Pirates’ win so he edges Ike out for hero honors this week.

Zero of the week: Jared Hughes. Not a great week at all for Hughes. The Pirates lost twice this week and Jared took the loss in both games. On Monday the Cardinals got to him by stringing together enough singles that found holes. On Sunday he was done in by the long ball. He gave up a solo home run to Chris Heisey of the Reds that broke a 2-2 tie in the 9th inning.

How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. Mark Melancon truly was a shark this week. He earned a save in 4 games this week posting a scoreless inning in each one. Melancon allowed just 1 walk and 1 hit in his 4 innings of work while striking out 3.

#HURDLED: The 7th inning on Monday was not Clint Hurdle‘s finest work. He basically chose a matchup of Jared Hughes against the red hot Jon Jay when he could have had a matchup of Tony Watson or Justin Wilson against the light hitting Peter Bourjos. Jay delivered the game tying hit. I also would like to introduce Hurdle to John Axford. It has been over two weeks now since the Pirates acquired Axford, but Clint won’t let him sniff leverage situation.


Cannonballs: Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison (2), Ike Davis (2), Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer

The little things that matter: Andrew McCutchen was in obvious pain and had to be removed from the game on Tuesday night. It is clear that his ribs are not yet healed. It was almost a forgone conclusion that Cutch would be held out of the day game on Wednesday against the Cardinals. McCutchen demanded to be in lineup. Cutch wants to win so bad that he is going to gut out this injury no matter what. That kind of attitude from the team leader is infectious. And let’s give a tip of the cap to the schedule maker. An off day on Thursday in the middle of a home stand in late August….that is priceless. Having that day off allows McCutchen to give it a go on Wednesday. That day off keeps Russell Martin in the lineup on Wednesday when normally Chris Stewart would catch the day game that follows a night game.


It must be Hidden Vigorish: After struggling in the early part of the season against NL Central opponents the Pirates managed to take 2 of 3 in three straight series against the Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds.


Stats that blow my mind: Justin Morneau is batting .311. Josh Harrison is batting .310. As of today those are your leaders for the National League batting title.


Records and Milestones: Nothing of note


He said what: Clint Hurdle sums up what his club is all about:

I think if you just want to cut to the chase, it’s called grit. We’ve got a lotta grit. We don’t have a perfect club. We don’t play perfect. I don’t manage perfect. But we believe in each other, trust each other. And these guys love to play, just flat-out love to play.


Tweet of the week: This time of year can create strange heroes. That is the great thing about a pennant race. Almost every game yesterday’s bum has a chance to redeem himself.


Front Office Notes: Neil Huntington spent the week taking advantage of loop holes concerning the disabled list and end of minor league season rules in advance of the September 1st expanded roster. One such quirk allowed the Pirate to temporarily create a roster spot by optioning Gerrit Cole to the Bristol Rookie League team on the day their season ended. It was purely a paper move. Cole will be reactivated in time for his next start and is still be playoff eligible. Jose Tabata and Andrew Lambo were also recalled from purgatory.


On The Farm: The minor league seasons are wrapping up. The West Virginia Power have gotten a strong August finish from their starting pitchers.

Highlight of the week: On Tuesday night the Pirates bullpen had just frittered away a lead for the second straight game against the Cardinals. Games at this time of year are too important to be given away against teams they are chasing in the standings. The Bucs needed to find a way to pull this game out. They needed a big hit. They got it off the bat of Ike Davis. This 3-run pinch hit homer by Davis in the 8th inning was the highlight of the week.



WV Power Report: Starting Pitchers Finishing the Season Strong

A trio of starting pitchers in the West Virginia Power rotation are having a strong finish to the 2014 season. Buddy Borden has been the breakout pitcher for the Power this year. Borden has been good all season, but he has been exceptional in the month of August. In 4 starts this month Borden has a 0.77 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only 4 walks in 23.1 innings pitched. For the season Borden has a 2.97 ERA in 124.1 innings. He will likely get one more start this weekend. The season ends for the Power on Monday, September 1st.
Left-hander Cody Dickson struggled mightily the first half of the season for the Power. At the All-Star break Dickson’s ERA was an unsightly 5.58. But Dickson has been outstanding in the second half of the season. He has held opponents to 3 earned runs or less in 13 of his last 14 starts. His ERA has plummeted to a respectable 3.96 for the season. August has been his best month. In 5 starts this month he has a 2.28 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 11 walks in 27.2 innings. Dickson’s strong finish to the season positions him as arguably the Pittsburgh Pirates top left-handed pitching prospect.
Quietly the much maligned Luis Heredia is also showing some nice improvements in the final weeks of the season. Heredia was once considered a top prospect. Most of his career to date, including much of this season, would have to be classified as a disappointment. But Heredia is still just 20 years old. If he can pitch like he has this month there is still a chance he can develop into a major league pitcher. Heredia has made 6 starts this month and has posted a 3.06 ERA. He still is not missing enough bats – just 21 Ks in 35.1 innings, but his command is showing a lot of improvement. He has walked just 7 batters this month. At the very least Heredia was able to salvage his season. As Heredia moves on to Fall instructs he has something to build on.

Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 8-18-14 thru 8-24-14

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 8/18/14 thru 8/24/14, the 21st week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 baseball season.

Weekly result: 3 wins and 3 Losses, 30 Runs Scored and 29 Runs Allowed

Hero of the week: Starling Marte. Marte has been hot all month, but he really turned it on this week. Marte blasted 3 homers, scored 7 runs, and had 10 hits in 23 ABs.

Zero of the week: Vance Worley. Worley made two starts this week and he put the Pirates in a big hole right out of the chute in both games. On Monday he surrendered 6 runs in the 1st inning against the Braves. On Sunday against the Brewers he was touched up for 2 runs in the 1st inning and 2 more in the 2nd inning. The Pirates would never recover and Worley took the loss in both games.

How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. It wasn’t a busy week for Mark Melancon but it was an unblemished week. Mark the shark pitched two scoreless innings and earned the save Wednesday night against Atlanta.

#HURDLED: I’m giving Hurdle a pass this week. I didn’t notice any egregious snafus.


Cannonballs: Starling Marte (3), Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen (2), Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez (2), Russell Martin,

The little things that matter: Josh Harrison has been a godsend for this team. At the plate and in field he has been terrific, but on the bases not so much. JHay was picked off of second base in two straight games. His base running mistakes are costing the team runs.


It must be Hidden Vigorish: The Pirates won two out of three in Milwaukee. To say they were due to win a series against the Brewers is an understatement. With two wins this weekend the Pirates improved their record in Milwaukee to just 15-54 since 2007.


Stats that blow my mind: Josh Harrison has 21 extra base hits since the all-star break.


Records and Milestones: Pedro Alvarez made his first career start at first base on 8/18/14.


He said what: Clint Hurdle was happy to have Gerrit Cole back:

“He had four pitches to go to tonight, very efficient work. Really good to see him out on the mound.”


Tweet of the week:


Front Office Notes: The Pirates sent out playoff ticket information this week to their season ticket holders. They ticked off a lot people with 20 game plans. Last season 20 game ticket plan holders were guaranteed playoff tickets. That is not the case this year.


On The Farm: Tony Sanchez has thrown out just 8 of 63 base stealers this season at Indy. He also has 9 errors. This week he started a game at first base. The plan that Sanchez would be the Pirates catcher of the future is dying. At this point Elias Diaz is more highly regarded.

Highlight of the week: Andrew McCutchen announced to the world that he was back and healthy once again when he crushed this 436 foot home run on Friday night.



Streakiness of MLB Playoff Teams

The Pittsburgh Pirates are mired in a season worst 6 game losing streak that has left many people questioning if the Pirates are still playoff contenders. This got me thinking about how this Pirates team compares to past MLB playoff teams in terms of streakiness. Since the advent of the wildcard in 1995 there have been 156 playoff teams. 68 of them (43.6%) endured losing streaks of 6 or more games. Even if the Pirates losing slide continues another game there is still plenty of history on their side. 35 playoff teams (22.4%) had losing streaks of 7 games or longer. The longest losing streak in the wildcard era that a playoff team was able to overcome was 9 games. That was done twice – by the 2010 Atlanta Braves and then again by the 2012 Oakland A’s.

What is more ominous of the Pirates chances is the lack of a good winning streak. The Pirates longest winning streak this season is just 4 games. Not a single playoff team has had a longest winning streak shorter than 5 games since the playoffs were expanded in 1995. The shortest long winning streak is 5 games and it has been done 11 times. Interestingly 4 of those teams were World Series Winners – 1996 New York Yankees, 2007 Boston Red Sox, 2010 San Francisco Giants, and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.


Here are some interesting streak facts about playoff teams in the wildcard era:
Longest Winning Streak: 20 games
2002 Oakland A’s
Shortest Long Winning Streak: 5 games
1996 Baltimore Orioles
1996 New York Yankees
1997 Seattle Mariners
1997 New York Yankees
2001 Houston Astros
2007 Boston Red Sox
2009 St. Louis Cardinals
2010 San Francisco Giants
2011 Tampa Rays
2011 St. Louis Cardinals
2012 St. Louis Cardinals
Longest Losing Streak: 9 games
2010 Atlanta Braves
2012 Oakland A’s
Shortest Long Losing Streak: 3 games
2003 Atlanta Braves
2004 Atlanta Braves
2005 St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Boston Red Sox
Average Longest Winning Streak: 8.2 games


Average Longest Losing Streak: 5.5 games

Teams With Longest Winning Streak Was Shorter Than Longest Losing Streak: 12 teams
1995 New York Yankees (7W/8L)
1996 San Diego Padres (6W/8L)
1996 Baltimore Orioles (5W/6L)
1997 New York Yankees (5W/6L)
1999 New York Mets (6W/8L)
2001 Houston Astros (5W/8L)
2006 St. Louis Cardinals (7W/8L)
2010 San Francisco Giants (5W/7L)
2011 Tampa Rays (5W/6L)
2011 St. Louis Cardinals (5W/7L)
2012 Atlanta Braves (7W/8L)
2013 St. Louis Cardinals (6W/7L)


Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 8-11-14 thru 8-17-14

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 8/11/14 thru 8/17/14, the 20th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 baseball season.

Weekly result: 2 wins and 5 Losses, 33 Runs Scored and 36 Runs Allowed

Hero of the week: Travis Snider. Lunch Box hit safely in every game this week going 11 for 26. Snider found his power stroke against the Detroit pitching staff. He took the Tigers deep three times and knocked in 7 runs.

Zero of the week: Jayson Nix. Nix was a dreadful 1 for 17 this week. I should probably look up how many runners he left on base but I’m depressed enough.

How do you spell relief? J-A-R-E-D H-U-G-H-E-S. Right now Jared Hughes may be the best reliever on the staff. This week he pitched 4.2 innings without allowing a run. He did get tabbed with a blown save on Sunday when two inherited runners scored because Ike Davis and Pedro Alvarez can’t make 75 foot throws to home plate. 8 pitches, 3 routine ground balls, and you get hung with a blown save? Baseball stats can be really weird and misleading some times.

#HURDLED: The Pirates are facing Max Scherzer, the reigning Cy Young Award Winner. Chris Stewart is on 1st base with no outs. Michael Martinez is batting. What could possibly go wrong with having Stewart run on the 3-2 count?


Cannonballs: Travis Snider (3), Russell Martin, Ike Davis, Gaby Sanchez, Starling Marte

The little things that matter: The way the Pirates played on Sunday was an abomination. The physical errors are bad enough. Errors happen. Hitters fail. Pitchers give up hits. Sometimes they even lose the strike zone at the most unfortunate of times. All those things were contributing factors in the Pirates 6-5 loss to the Nationals. But all those failures are at least some what forgivable. Baseball is a tough game and a high degree of individual failure is woven into the fabric of the game. What is not forgivable is absent minded stupidity that continues to plague this team. On Sunday that cost the Pirates several runs. In the 7th inning Ike Davis made a terrible throw to the plate that cost the Pirates a run. An awful play for sure, but excusable. What is not excusable is what Ike Davis did after the throw. He stood in the middle of the infield feeling sorry for himself instead of following the play and covering home. What should have cost the Pirates one run ended up costing them two because no one covered home. In the 9th inning Gregory Polanco inexplicably put on the breaks rounding 3rd base when he almost surely would have scored. On the same play Josh Harrison failed to allow the throw to clear the cut off man and was thrown out at second base. This stuff is completely unacceptable.


It must be Hidden Vigorish: Hidden Vigorish transpired against the Pirates in the most unfortunate of ways this week. The Pirates current losing streak marks the first time they have lost five straight games since 9/18 – 9/22 of 2012. The game tying home run that Tony Watson served up to Adam LaRoche on Saturday night was the first homer that Watson has surrendered to a left-handed hitter since 6/13/2012.


Stats that blow my mind: Michael Martinez has a .482 career OPS. That is the lowest mark of any non-pitcher with at least 400 plate appearances in the last 30 years. If you were born after 1984 you can honestly say Michael Martinez is the worst hitter in your lifetime.


Records and Milestones: Russell Martin recorded his 1000th career hit on 8/13/14. Also I would be remiss if I did not mention the passing of former Pittsburgh mayor Sophie Masloff. The Pirates might not call Pittsburgh home today if not for her efforts to build support for a new stadium.

He said what: This quote by Clint Hurdle detailing what went wrong at the end of the game on Sunday against the Nationals is sad on so many levels. How much must it kill Hurdle to commend another team for making a nice infielder acquisition like the Nats did to get Asdrubal Cabrera while he has play guys like Jayson Nix and Brent Morel?

Again, a late walk, And then a big at-bat from Span, a battle at-bat. He’s able to work a ball into the outfield. Cabrera, who’s been a nice addition for their club, the ball’s maybe elevated a little bit more. They found holes. Basically that’s it.


Tweet of the week:


Front Office Notes: The Pirates acquired relief pitcher John Axford off of waivers from the Cleveland Indians. The rest of the week was spent concocting reasons to place pitchers on the disabled list.


On The Farm: Buddy Borden has been the breakout pitcher at the A Ball level for the Pirates this season. He has been good most of year with the West Virginia Power, but since the beginning of July he has been exceptional. In Borden’s last 9 starts he has a 2.03 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 48.2 innings pitched.

Highlight of the week: This play by Edinson Volquez on a come backer was just ridiculous. It turned out to be a very big play too. The Tigers were threatening to put up a crooked number in the 1st inning. Volquez settled down after making this play and the Pirates would go on to win the game 4-2.



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