Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 6/8/15 thru 6/14/15, the 10th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.
Weekly result: 4 Wins and 2 Losses, 9 Runs Scored and 9 Runs Allowed.
Hero of the week: A.J. Burnett. We should all be so lucky to age as gracefully as A.J. Burnett. The old veteran continued his career year at age 38 with two more stellar outings. Burnett tossed 16 innings this week and gave up just 10 hits, 2 walks, and 1 measly earned run while striking out 10. On Sunday against Philadelphia he was masterfully efficient. It took him just 101 pitches to blank the Phillies for 9 full innings. Despite the effort Burnett did not pick up a victory as the Pirates offense went on hiatus. In fact, on Monday Burnett was tagged with a loss as the Pirates were blanked 1-0 by the Brewers.
Zero of the week: Corey Hart. Why is this man on the team? He barely plays and he offers little when he does. On Sunday Hart drew a start against the left-handed Cole Hamels. It was Hart’s first start since May 16th. Hamels whiffed him twice and hit him with a pitch. Hart also whiffed in a pinch hit appearance on Friday. So for the week Corey was 0-3 with 3 Ks and a HBP. Side note here, but Corey Hart looked so awful flailing at Hamels’ changeup back on May 13th that there is no way he should have drawn another start against him. In that game Hart whiffed 3 times. If you are keeping track that is 5 Ks in 5 ABs against Hamels this season.
How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. Mark Melancon just keeps putting up scoreless outings. It doesn’t always look pretty, and he doesn’t get many swings and misses these days, but there is no denying he has been effective. Melancon pitched 3 scoreless innings this week and notched a pair of saves. He has not given up an earned run since May 11th.
#HURDLED: In my opinion Clint Hurdle blundered in not pinch hitting for A.J. Burnett with runners at the corners and 1 out in the bottom of the 5th inning against the Brewers on Monday. Normally that is too early to yank a pitcher. But this was an unusual game played in a steady rain. The game had already been delayed once and there was a very real possibility of this game getting stopped early. This was a chance to push the tying run across the plate before the game became official. Instead Burnett laid down a sacrifice bunt. The Pirates did not score. I guess you can say no harm no foul because the game did eventually go a full 9 innings – albeit after enduring another rain delay. But they never did have a better chance to score a run. Baseball is really hard to play in wet weather and you don’t want to be the team trailing as conditions deteriorate.
The little things that matter: I’m all for players with good wheels trying to occasionally bunt for a base hit. But dear god, have a little awareness of your opponent! Starling Marte blasted a 2nd inning home run off of Brewers rookie pitcher Taylor Jungmann. Jungmann was making his major league debut. Next time up Marte tried unsuccessfully to bunt for a base hit. On Friday Josh Harrison tried to bunt for a hit in the 2nd inning off of Kevin Correia. Correia is just a notch better than a batting practice pitcher. He was making his first start with the Phillies after spending the first two months of the season in AAA. Why are these guys bunting against inexperienced and/or inferior pitchers that should be hittable? Here is the problem with bunting for a hit. When it fails it leads to a quick out. Quick outs let pitchers get into a rhythm and gain confidence.
It must be Hidden Vigorish: I would be remiss if I did not mention that this week marked 30 years since the passing of “The Gunner” Bob Prince. It just seems appropriate that “Hidden Vigorish” presented itself so much this week. The Pirates had not been good in extra inning games this season. Until this weekend they were 0-6 in extended time. Then the Phillies came to town and the Pirates walked them off twice in extra innings – and both were shutouts. On Friday it took 13 innings of shutout ball for the Pirates to claim a win over the Phillies. You have to go all the way back to 1914 to find the Pirates last 13 inning shutout. On Sunday the Pirates would again need extra frames to shutout the Phillies. And the winning pitcher in both games….the much maligned Antonio Bastardo.
Stats that blow my mind:
I. Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett both have sub 2.0 ERAs and rank 1 and 2 in the National League.
II. The Pirates have the 4th best record in baseball but 16 other teams are closer to 1st place in their respective divisions. The Cardinals and the Pirates have basically matched wins and losses since May 24th.
III. The Pirates pitching staff has recorded 3 shutouts in their last 4 games.
Records and Milestones: Clint Hurdle notched his 900th win as a manager.
He said what: Clint Hurdle’s definition of wonderful is very different from mine.
Twenty-five zeroes, the number of men left on base for both sides, pitchers on both sides pitching through things, making pitches when they had to — I don’t know if I’ve ever been involved with one of this magnitude to go 13 innings like that. It was a wonderful game to watch.
Tweet of the week:
Said it before: AJ Burnett leaves mound like one of those Cowboys in an old Western who chugs his drink and throws his glass off the wall.
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) June 14, 2015
Front Office Notes: Holy Déjà vu! The Pirates acquired 1B John Bowker from the Giants.
On The Farm: Some new seeds weren’t planted on the Farm as the Pirates selected 41 players in the Rule 4 draft. 1st round pick Kevin Newman has already signed.
Highlight of the week: The Pirates won two games with walk off base hits and Pedro Alvarez hit a baseball out of PNC Park, but none of those plays impressed me as much this fully extended diving catch by Sean Rodriguez.