Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 9/14/15 thru 9/20/15, the 24th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.
Weekly result: 3 Wins and 4 Losses, 23 Runs Scored and 29 Runs Allowed.
Hero of the week: Francisco Liriano. The Pirates needed a big effort to stop the bleeding from what had been a very tough week for the club. Liriano gave them just what they needed. Frankie out pitched Clayton Kershaw on Saturday Night to snap the Pirates 4 game losing streak. Liriano’s line read 7 innings, 2 Runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, and 9 Ks…and one very well deserved WIN.
Zero of the week: Charlie Morton. Morton came up small when the Pirates really needed him. With a chance to earn a split in a huge 4 game series with the Cubs, Morton put the team in an early 3-0 hole as the Cubs teed off on him. The Pirates battled back to take a 4-3 lead after 4 innings, but Morton again spit the bit in the 5th inning. Surrendering a 2 run homer to Anthony Rizzo was the big blow. For the day Morton pitched 4+ innings of batting practice to the Cubs. He gave 6 runs (5 earned), 9 hits (5 of them extra base hits), and mixed in a couple of free passes too.
How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. You can’t do any better than perfection, and Mark Melancon was perfect this week. 4 innings of work. 12 up and 12 down. No hits allowed. No walks allowed. Melancon notched 3 saves and struck out 4 hitters.
#HURDLED: The skipper took some harsh criticism over his lineups this week, and there is no denying that starting Pedro Florimon at SS during a playoff race is a bad idea. But I’m going to focus on Hurdle allowing Charlie Morton to face a Cubs lineup for 3rd time when Chuck clearly wasn’t fooling the Chicago hitters. Hurdle let Morton burp away a huge game.
Cannonballs: Travis Snider, Gregory Polanco, Pedro Alvarez (2), Neil Walker, Starling Marte
The little things that matter: Opposing baserunners continue to exploit the Pirates’ pitchers inability to hold runners. The Pirates have surrendered a whopping 136 stolen bases this year. The most concerning part is how many bags are swiped so easily. Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart are under such an enormous pressure to fire the ball quickly that many of their throws are winding up in CF leading to base stealers taking 3rd base as well. Allowing bases to go uncontested is becoming the Pirates best strategy. A low point was reached on Wednesday when the Cubs swiped 5 bags. Among the thieves was catcher Miguel Montero who swiped his first base of the year…and he got to third because of an errant throw!
It must be Hidden Vigorish: On Saturday the Pirates were set to face Clayton Kershaw – the 4th ace caliber pitcher the Bucs were pitted against in the last week. The first three match ups did not go so well. The Pirates could not find a way to win against Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, or Zack Greinke. Kershaw was taking a 13 start unbeaten streak to the mound. He had not lost since June 27th. But the Bucs got a huge effort from Francisco Liriano, and the Pirates lineup was able to scratch together three runs to hang a loss on Kershaw.
Stats that blow my mind: Feast your eyes on this one…
Records and Milestones: Mark Melancon set a new franchise record for saves in a season when he closed out the Dodgers on Saturday Night. He added yet another on Sunday to bring his total to a National League leading 48 saves.
He said what: A brutal take out slide by Chris Coghlan left Jung Ho Kang unable to walk off the field on his own power. In a total scumbag move Cubs skipper Joe Maddon decided to make a joke about it.
I don’t think it’s his knee. He has Plantar Fasciitis is what I heard
Tweet of the week: Noted baseball writer Keith Law summed up the Kang injury as well as anyone.
Front Office Notes: Neal Huntington made it quite clear that the blame for some recent odd lineup configurations should not fall on Clint Hurdle. The Pirates have a fatigue prevention plan in place and that is coming from the top of the organization. Said Huntington:
We’re at the point in the year where a rested club is as important as a good club. Sometimes a rested club is better than a non-rested good club. We’re trying to fight that battle of keeping our guys strong and fresh while at the same time putting this club in a position to win every game going forward
On The Farm: The minor league seasons came to a close as the Indianapolis Indians fell in the championship round of the International League, while the West Virginia Black Bears won the New Year Penn League championship.
Highlight of the week: Aramis Ramirez came through with this clutch hit to drive in the winning run in the 8th inning on Saturday Night against the Dodgers.