Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 8/10/15 thru 8/16/15, the 19th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.
Weekly result: 4 Wins and 2 Losses, 31 Runs Scored and 19 Runs Allowed.
Hero of the week: Gregory Polanco. Polanco is scalding hot. This week he picked up 14 hits in 29 ABs, scored 5 runs, and drove in 4. Polanco also continued to display the clutch gene. On Friday he drove in the go ahead run in the 10th inning against the Mets. In the 7th inning on Sunday he again drove in the go ahead run. He also blasted a mammoth home run high off the left field foul pole at Citi Field.
Zero of the week: Not a single player had an obvious poor week, therefore Zero Dishonors are suspended.
How do you spell relief? J-O-E B-L-A-N-T-O-N. The hefty right hander came up huge in a 14 inning win over the NY Mets on Saturday Night. Joe Blanton pitched the 11th-13th innings and whiffed 6 Mets’ hitters to pick up his first win as a Pirate. For the week Blanton pitched 4 scoreless innings, racked up 8 K, and surrendered just 2 hits and a walk.
#HURDLED: I covered this in detail earlier this week. Clint Hurdle absolutely stuck with Jeff Locke too long on Tuesday night against the Cardinals. It was inexcusable not to pull Locke after allowing two walks to begin the 5th inning. Head to head match ups against the Cardinals are precious. If the Pirates are going to catch the Cards Hurdle can not let a game like this get away from the Pirates.
The little things that matter: Two games were altered this week by the inability to turn a couple of routine double plays. Gerrit Cole had a chance to escape the 3rd inning against the Cardinals unscathed on Wednesday Night. Instead Neil Walker skipped a poor throw to first base, and Pedro Alvarez made an even poorer attempt to scoop it. The ball kicked away from Alvarez and two Cardinals’ baserunners scored. On Sunday the Pirates were on the receiving end of some charitable double play defense. With a runner on first base and no outs in the 7th inning Mets pitcher Bobby Parnell fielded a come backer and fired strike to second base. Unfortunately for Parnell, the Mets’ were confused on who should cover the bag and the ball sailed into centerfield. The Bucs would break the game open with 4 runs in the 7th inning.
It must be Hidden Vigorish: The Pirates finally won a game in St. Louis. The Bucs had lost 8 straight in St. Louis and 19 of their previous 22 games at Busch Stadium before exploding for 7 runs in the top of the 1st inning on their way to a 10-5 victory over the Cards on Thursday evening. It was the most runs the Pirates had scored in the top of a 1st inning since June 8, 1989, when they scored 10 runs at Philadelphia.
Stats that blow my mind: Against NL Central Division foes the Pirates are a combined W/L record of 21-29. Against the rest of the league they are an astounding 48-17.
Records and Milestones: The Pirates bullpen has won 16 straight decisions. According to Elias Sports that is the longest streak in baseball since the 1909 Pirates won 22 straight bullpen decisions.
He said what: Few things make Pirate fans as irate as “Sunday Lineups”. Clint Hurdle had a doozy of a “Sunday Lineup” this week – both Andrew McCutchen and Jung Ho Kang were given the day off against Mets’ ace Matt Harvey. The Pirates B team never got the memo that that they were supposedly overmatched. As Clint Hurdle noted the guys on his scorecard grinded against Harvey all game long.
The eight that went out there today battled their backsides off against Harvey
Tweet of the week: The Pirates’ bullpen has done a 180 in recent weeks.
There was a stretch a few weeks ago where nobody beyond Watson, Melancon, and maybe Hughes could be trusted in the pen. That has changed.
— Brian McElhinny (@rtjr) August 16, 2015
We should give the GM some credit for the bullpen additions he made at the trade deadline, but we also need to credit the coaching staff for correcting issues with Antonio Bastardo and Arquimedes Caminero.
Front Office Notes: In my mind I imagine Neal Huntington is frantically blocking the Cardinals’ waiver claims. My mind and reality are not always in alignment.
On The Farm: Ke’Bryan Hayes has gotten off to a great start to his career. The Pirates selected Hayes with the 32nd overall pick in the 2015 draft. The 18 year old third basemen has slashed 347/441/397 in Rookie ball for the GCL Pirates.