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.
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.
— Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich) August 30, 2014
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.