Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Category – TWIBB Notes

Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 7-20-15 to 7-26-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 7/20/15 thru 7/26/15, the 16th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 4 Wins and 3 Losses, 32 Runs Scored and 33 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: Jung Ho Kang. Kang recorded multiple hits in 5 straight games this week. He was 11 for 28 (a .423 batting average) with 4 doubles and 5 runs scored.

Zero of the week: Pedro Florimon. Florimon proved this week why he is not a major league caliber player. He struck out in half of his 8 ABs this week, committed an error, and stood in the box dumbfounded as a ball he hit slowly down 1st base line rolled fair.

How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. Mark Melancon continues to just nail games down. Mark the Shark was once again a perfect 3 for 3 in save opportunities posting a scoreless inning in all 3 outings.


#HURDLED: There is just no excuse for allowing Charlie Morton to pitch to good left-handed hitters the 4th time through the order in a close game. Mike Moustakas made Clint Hurdle learn that lesson the hard way on Wednesday Night when the Royals 3B took Morton deep for a 3 run blast in the 7th inning.


Cannonballs: Travis Ishikawa, Pedro Alvarez (2), Andrew McCutchen, Francisco Cervelli, Gregory Polanco, Neil Walker (2)

The little things that matter: Where should we start? How about Andrew McCutchen’s insistence to allow runners to take second base by making ill-advised throws to 3rd base in which he over shoots the cut off man? Or how about 3B coach Rick Sofield sending a runner to get cut down at the plate in the 9th inning of a game in which the Bucs were losing by 3 runs? The Pirates continue to botch fundamentals on a daily basis. It is amazing that it hasn’t cost them in the standings all that much…yet. THIS NEEDS FIXED ASAP!


It must be Hidden Vigorish: A month ago Max Scherzer no hit the Pirates in a dominating performance. Entirely differently story this week. The Bucs took Scherzer deep….really deep…three different times. Two of the blasts cleared the stadium. Scherzer had not allowed 3 homers in a game since Sept. 15, 2011.

Stats that blow my mind: Mark Melanacon has converted 30 straight save opportunities. That is impressive. Melancon has not allowed an earned run since May 11th. That is downright mind boggling.

Records and Milestones: Mark Melancon recorded his 100th career save in the Pirates 10-7 win over the Royals on 7/20/15.

He said what: Max Scherzer had this to say after Gregory Polanco wore him out in a critical AB on Friday night:

He just grinded me all the way through. He did a great job of just fouling fastballs and keeping his swings short.


Tweet of the week: Brent Morel had a hero moment in his brief call up this week. On Friday Morel shot a double into right center for a game winning RBI. On Saturday he was DFA’d.


Front Office Notes: A fine piece of GM-ing by Neal Huntington this week as the Bucs acquired 3B Aramis Ramirez to plug a hole in the injury riddled left side of the infield. Welcome back Aram!

On The Farm: Since coming off the minor league disabled list Tyler Glasnow has struck out 53 hitters in 33.2 innings for AA Altoona. This is the most dominating minor league pitcher the Pirates have ever had in my recollection.

Highlight of the week: Gregory Polanco and Max Scherzer locked horns in an epic 12 pitch battle on Friday. Polanco fell behind in the count 0-2 before battling back to fill the count full. Then he wasted 5 straight fastballs on the outside corner with foul balls. Finally Scherzer made a mistake by hanging a breaking ball which Polanco launched over the Clemente Wall to tie the game. It was an incredible AB, and this video has every pitch. Scherzer’s reaction is priceless!


Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 7-6-15 to 7-12-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 7/6/15 thru 7/12/15, the 14th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 6 Wins and 1 Loss, 28 Runs Scored and 21 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: This week had so many heroes that picking just one seems like an injustice. Andrew McCutchen, Jung Ho Kang, and Neil Walker all could easily have staked a claim to being the hero this week. I give this one to Cutch simply because that walk off homer in the bottom of the 14th inning on Saturday Night was magical. It was the biggest HR for a regular season game in PNC Park history. Cutch also did some handy work in helping to save a PNC Park grounds crew member from becoming a human burrito.


Zero of the week: Rather slim pickens for the zero award. Every player pulled their weight. I guess it has to go to Arquimedes Caminero for a brutal outing in which he gave the lead to the Cardinals in the 10th inning on Sunday Night. The Cards scored twice on Caminero and would have added more if not for a tremendous play by Neil Walker. Luckily, the Pirates bailed out the hard throwing reliever with another heroic comeback in the bottom half of the 10th. In fact, Caminero actually was credited with his first major league win for this putrid outing.

How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. Mark Melancon just keeps on putting up zeros. This week he picked up 2 mores saves, pitched 3 more scoreless innings, and was named to the All-Star game for the 2nd time in his career


#HURDLED: We have a substitute HURDLER this week. Bench coach Dave Jauss took the reins after Clint Hurdle was ejected in the second inning on Saturday and made us all appreciate our big purple skipper a whole lot more. Jauss made a series of questionable moves from double switching Starling Marte out of the game (which meant Cutch was followed in the lineup by a pitcher) to electing to pitch to Jhonny Peralta in the 14th inning with light hitting Pete Kozma on deck. Peralta delivered a base hit to give the Cardinals the lead.


Cannonballs: Andrew McCutchen (2), Neil Walker, A.J. Burnett

The little things that matter: If the Pirates proved anything this week it is to never ever quit. When things looked like they were about to get away from them they came up with big plays to stop the bleeding. A double play in the 5th inning on Saturday helped end a Cardinals rally and hold the deficit to only three 3 runs. On Sunday Neil Walker saved a run with a diving play in the 10th inning to keep the Pirates within 2 runs. If not for these huge stops at critical moments the later heroics never would have occurred.


It must be Hidden Vigorish: Hidden Vigorish was strongly in the Pirates corner this week. In the 14 years since PNC Park had opened the San Diego Padres had not lost a series on the North Shore….that is until the Pirates brought out the brooms and swept the Friars this week. Then the Bucs did the unthinkable by mounting two epic come from behind wins to walk off the Cardinals in back to back games. The Cardinals were previously 44-1 when leading after 8 innings. The Pirates broke them twice. Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal had allowed just 3 runs all season prior to this weekend. The Pirates torched him for 4 runs in two games as he twice coughed up late leads. I cant explain it….so it must be Hidden Vigorish.

Stats that blow my mind: Gerrit Cole picked up his 12th win of the season 13th win of the season. The last Pirates pitcher to win a dozen games 13 games before the All-Star break was Ken Brett in 1974 Dock Ellis in 1971.

Records and Milestones: Four Pirates were selected to the all-star game: Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Melancon. For Burnett it was a well earned first time honor at the ripe old age of 38. This is Burnett’s 17th MLB season. Only two other players have played longer before being selected for the Mid-Summer Classic for the first time: Arthur Rhodes (19 seasons) and Doyle Alexander (18 seasons).

He said what: Clint Hurdle makes a valid point that umpire Vic Carapazza needs his hearing checked. Carapazza is hearing phantom foul tips…maybe he is also hearing phantom foul language.

Both times, it would have been the third out. (Cervelli) is upset; let him go. For me, no game awareness. … It was wrong. He said (Cervelli) said something personal? You know what? We are professionals. He heard a foul tip? There was no foul tip


Tweet of the week: Some absolutely inspiring baseball was played this week. Also this happened….


Front Office Notes: Trade deadline rumors are heating up. Will no move be the right move this year?


On The Farm: Pirates AA 1B Josh Bell slugged a two run homer in the Futures Game.

Highlight of the week: How many regular season games will you truly never forget? Whatever your answer you can also add this one to your list.


Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 6-29-15 to 7-5-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 6/29/15 thru 7/5/15, the 13th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 5 Wins and 1 Loss, 30 Runs Scored and 19 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: Neil Walker. The first half of the season has mostly been a disappointing struggle for Neil Walker – until this week that is. Walker was a man on fire this week. He pounded out 13 hits in 29 ABs with 9 RBIs. He was absolutely clutch too. Walker drove in either the go ahead or game tying run in 4 of the Pirates 5 wins this week.

Zero of the week: Arquimedes Caminero. Caminero gave up just as many hits as outs he recorded this week. In 2.1 innings he was torched for 7 hits, 3 ERs, and walked 2 hitters.

How do you spell relief? D-E-O-L-I-S G-U-E-R-R-A. Deolis Guerra pitched in only one game this week, but it was perhaps the gutsiest relief outing the Pirates will get from a reliever all season. Guerra held the Detroit Tigers’ potent lineup in check over 3 scoreless extra innings to help the Pirates snag a victory in 14 innings on Tuesday night. Guerra gave up 3 hits and whiffed 3 batters in the outing. The Tigers were threatening to tie the game in the bottom of the 14th inning until Guerra induced a game ending double play.


#HURDLED: On Sunday in the bottom of the 2nd inning Clint Hurdle allowed Gerrit Cole to pitch to the number 8 hitter in the Indians lineup (Roberto Perez) with a runner on third base and two outs. You have the pitcher on deck, an American League pitcher at that, why are you pitching to Perez? Perez made the Pirates pay for the mistake by driving in the run.


Cannonballs: Neil Walker (2), Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez (2), Francisco Cervelli, Andrew McCutchen

The little things that matter: There just are no words for this. Gorkys Hernandez, what are you doing????



It must be Hidden Vigorish: When Pedro Alvarez took Indians pitcher Danny Salazar deep in the 5th inning on Sunday it marked his first home run of the season with a man on base. Pedro’s previous 11 homers were of the solo variety.

Stats that blow my mind: Gerrit Cole picked up his 12th win of the season. The last Pirates pitcher to win a dozen games before the All-Star break was Ken Brett in 1974.

Records and Milestones: Deolis Guerra picked up his first major league victory.

He said what: Apparently Victor Martinez isn’t a fan of the Pirates after getting hit with a Gerrit Cole fastball.

I mean, I have no respect for no one on that team, including Cole and their coaching staff


Tweet of the week: Jeff Locke is no longer a liability. Not only did he pitch the best game of his career on Saturday, but he has been throwing pretty well for a while now.


Front Office Notes: In a bit of a head scratcher the Pirates claimed Travis Ishikawa off of waivers. Here is my two cents: Ishikawa plays good defense. This gives the Pirates two options to replace Pedro for defense – a left and right option and both have positional versatility.


On The Farm: Don’t expect Jameson Taillon to help the club this year. His rehab has been derailed by an inguinal hernia. He will be shelved two months as he recovers from the surgery to repair it.

Highlight of the week: Neil Walker delivers the game winning hit in the 14th inning on 6/30/15.


Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 6-22-15 to 6-28-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 6/22/15 thru 6/28/15, the 12th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 3 Wins and 3 Losses, 25 Runs Scored and 24 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: Jordy Mercer. Mercer caught fire this week with 11 hits in 26 ABs. 4 of his hits went for extra bases and he knocked in 5 runs – the biggest of which was his walk off RBI double in the 10th inning Friday against the Braves.

Zero of the week: Gregory Polanco is a train wreck right now. He keeps falling deeper into a slump that has stretched for two months. This week Polanco collected just 3 hits in 20 ABs. When he did get on base he kept getting thrown out because of base running miscues. Twice he had stolen bases overturned on replay because he couldn’t keep his foot on the bag. Polanco also committed a world class TOOTBLAN when ran into an out by trying take an already occupied base.

How do you spell relief? A-N-T-O-N-I-O B-A-S-T-A-R-D-O. Antonio Bastardo has gone from forgotten man to trusted bullpen arm in a span of three weeks. He has been very good the entire month of June, but he was exceptionally good this week. The Old Dirty Bastard pitched 3.1 scoreless innings and allowed just 1 hit and 1 walk with 4 strikeouts. Bastardo snuffed out a Braves’ rally in the 7th inning on Saturday to earn his 3rd Hold of the season.


#HURDLED: The Pirates bunt when they shouldn’t and don’t bunt when they should. It is maddening.


Cannonballs: Andrew McCutchen, Francisco Cervelli

The little things that matter: FREEZE ON A LINE DRIVE. This advice is hammered into kids from the very moment they walk onto a baseball field for the first time. It is reinforced at every level of the game. That Neil Walker forgot to FREEZE ON A LINE DRIVE and did so when he was the most meaningless of base runners is inexcusable. Walker managed to get himself doubled off first base when the winning run was on second. This is the hands down winner for TOOTBLAN of the year.

It must be Hidden Vigorish: A.J. Burnett knocked in two runs with a single on Wednesday night. It was the first 2 RBI game in his 17 year career.


Stats that blow my mind: The Pirates are 9 games over .500 and 9 games out of first place and we have not even reached the half way point of the season. That doesn’t even seem possible. The Cardinals quite simply never lose.

Records and Milestones: Nothing Noteworthy

He said what: Andrew McCutchen is fed up with getting plunked.

Maybe I need to drop-kick a pitcher. Maybe that’ll scare them into not throwing me in.


Tweet of the week: Colin Dunlap of the 93.7 “The Fan” Morning Show is lobbying for MLB players to make A.J. Burnett a much deserved All-Star for the first time in his career.


Front Office Notes: A lot of guys were shuttled back and forth between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh this week. Chris Volstad came and went, Deolis Guerra made an impressive big league debut in relief, and Jose Tabata was DFA’d for the 1000th time as Gorkys Hernandez and Steve Lombardozzi were recalled to boost the bench.

On The Farm: Don’t look now but John Holdzkom appears to have gotten back on track. Since return from a shoulder injury Holdzkom has tossed 10 innings and has allowed just 5 hits and 2 walks while picking up 13 strikeouts.

Highlight of the week: Starling Marte robs Todd Frazier of a hit with this game saving catch on 6/23/15.


Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 6-15-15 to 6-21-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 6/15/15 thru 6/21/15, the 11th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 4 Wins and 3 Losses, 23 Runs Scored and 23 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: This was a weird week to find a hero and a zero. No one player really stood out – for good or bad. Jung Ho Kang did knock in 5 runs and blasted a key 3 run homer against the White Sox. He was 7 for 26. Jung Ho Kang takes the Hero Award for this week by deafult.

Zero of the week: Gregory Polanco was just 2 for 16. He failed to draw a walk and struck out 6 times.

How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. Mark Melancon picked up 3 saves in 3 perfect innings of work while notching 3 strikeouts.

#HURDLED: The score was 9-0 in the 3rd inning on Sunday and the Pirates sent Vance Worley to the plate to lay down a sacrifice bunt. What does giving away an out when trailing by 9 runs really accomplish?

Cannonballs: Sean Rodriguez, Francisco Cervelli, Jung Ho Kang, Corey Hart

The little things that matter: Starling Marte was once against caught off guard by a runner attempting score. In the 6th inning on Saturday Anthony Rendon scored from second base on a single by Bryce Harper. Marte anticipated the play poorly and made a casual off line throw to the plate. Marte needs to stop taking these kind of plays for granted. These runs are preventable if charges hard every time.


It must be Hidden Vigorish:
Hidden Vigorish I. Charlie Morton gave up just 7 earned runs in his first 5 starts of 2015. On Sunday the Nationals torched Ground Chuck for 9 runs in the 1st inning.

Hidden Vigorish II. Pirates pitchers posted an impressive string of 33 straight scoreless innings. Later in the week the Pirates offense went 24 straight unimpressive innings without scoring a run.


Stats that blow my mind: Francisco Cervelli’s streak of scoreless innings behind the dish was finally snapped at 56 by the White Sox in the 6th inning on Wednesday night. That tied a 112 year old club record originally accomplished by Ed Phelps in 1903.

Records and Milestones: Max Scherzer tossed a no hitter against the Bucs on Saturday. It was the 12th time in team history that the Pirates have been no hit.

He said what: Jose Tabata explains what happened on the pitch that nicked his elbow to end Max Scherzer’s bid for a perfect game with two outs in the 9th inning o Saturday.

It was a slider inside. I wanted [to keep my front shoulder] closed because I thought the slider was going to break. But it kinda stayed floating. You’ll understand if you’re in the moment and batting. But really, it wasn’t my intention to get hit in that moment.


Tweet of the week: Pat Lackey who is the author of the popular Pirates blog Where have you gone Andy Van Slyke tweeted this out BEFORE the Max Scherzer’s no no on Saturday.


Front Office Notes: The Pirates inked a bunch of their recent draft picks to contracts. Otherwise all was quiet.

On The Farm: The Morgantown Bears, The Pirates NY-PENN league affiliate, kicked off their inaugural season this week. Tyler Glasnow made a rehab start with the Bears in the season opener.

Highlight of the week: Jose Tabata was vilified for breaking up Max Scherzer’s perfect game when he failed to get out of the way of this inside slider that nicked him on his elbow guard.


Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 6-8-15 to 6-14-15

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.

Cannonballs: Starling Marte and Pedro Alvarez

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:


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.


Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 6-1-15 to 6-7-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 6/1/15 thru 6/7/15, the 9th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 5 Wins and 1 Loss, 33 Runs Scored and 22 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: Gerrit Cole. The Cole Train sped down the tracks this week to the destination of Aceville where he was just elected as mayor. He stymied the Giants on Monday over 7 innings and then closed out the week by doing the same thing to Atlanta. The Giants touched him up for 2 unearned runs in the 1st inning. Those would be the only runs to cross the plate in Cole’s 14 innings of work. He was at his best during the 6th inning against the Giants in which he pitched out of a bases loaded no out jam without allowing a run. 2 Wins, 14 innings, 0 ER, 16 strikeouts – yeah, that is pretty much domination. Cole leads the league in Wins and ERA.

Zero of the week: Vance Worley. Worley threw one pitch this week. It cleared the fence to give the Braves a 9th inning walk off win on Saturday night. It was the only loss the Pirates suffered all week.

How do you spell relief? M-A-R-K M-E-L-A-N-C-O-N. Rumors of Mark Melancon‘s demise have been greatly exaggerated. The Pirates won 5 games this week and Melancon recorded a save in every one of them. He struck out 3 in 4.2 innings and allowed 0 earned runs. Melancon has now locked down 16 straight save opportunities. His velocity has also improved a few ticks in his recent outings.

#HURDLED: It is hard for me to find fault with Hurdle’s decisions this week. He did give the ball to a starting pitcher miscast as a reliever in the 9th inning of a tied game, but that had as much to do with other options being overworked this week. My biggest gripe is the decision to stick with Jeff Locke in the rotation over Vance Worley. However, Locke wasn’t terrible in his lone outing this week, though perhaps the manager stuck with him an inning too long. I just want to clarify that I actually think Clint Hurdle is a far better manager than he gets credit for. The #Hurdled segment of TWIBB is more to lampoon modern baseball strategies than it is to specifically pick on Clint Hurdle.

Cannonballs: Jordy Mercer (2), Neil Walker, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen

The little things that matter: The Pirates should send a thank you to Nori Aoki for his poor base running in the Pirates 5-2 win over the Giants on Wednesday afternoon. His TOOTBLANs were much appreciated. Aoki was thrown out stealing 3rd base for the final out of the 3rd inning. He made an even bigger blunder when he broke on a line drive hit at shortstop Jordy Mercer and was doubled off second base in the 8th inning.


It must be Hidden Vigorish: On Monday Chris Stewart hit 3 doubles. The last Pirate to have 3 doubles in a game was Ronny Cedeno in 2010

Stats that blow my mind: Mark Melancon’ Cutter Velocity by month:
April – 89.33
May – 90.43
June – 91.56

Records and Milestones: Nothing noteworthy.

He said what: Jeff Locke (AKA Mr. Nibbles) admits he has a nibbling problem.

It’s not mechanical, it’s not physical. It’s just a commitment to throw the ball to the big part of the plate, not throw the ball to the edges all the time.


Tweet of the week:


Front Office Notes: The front office is preparing for the Rule 4 draft which begins tonight (6/8/15).


On The Farm: If the Pirates need to dip into the minors to fill a spot in the rotation the best option right now might be Adrian Sampson. The 23 year old right hander has a 2.69 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 73.2 innings.

Highlight of the week: Jordy Mercer finds the seats to give the Pirates the lead over the Giants on 6/3.



Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 5-25-15 to 5-31-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 5/25/15 thru 5/31/15, the 8th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 5 Wins and 2 Losses, 33 Runs Scored and 25 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: Charlie Morton. Morton returned from the DL by giving the Pirates two wins in a pair of solid starts this week in which he pitched a full 7 innings both times. Morton issued just 1 free pass and allowed only 3 earned runs. The addition of a healthy Charlie Morton has stabilized the back of the rotation which had been a sore spot for this team through the first 6 weeks of the season.

Zero of the week: I have had enough of Jeff Locke. Even when he has what some would consider a good start it comes with a thousand pitches and a boatload of walks. Mr. Nibbles did actually win a game this week. But throwing 104 pitches, allowing 4 walks, and not finishing 6 full innings is not what I consider good work for a starting pitcher. Sunday night was more of the same from Locke. Nibbled at the corners, walked a bunch of hitters, threw way too many pitches, and then exited the game early. This time he couldn’t avoid being tagged with the loss. For the week it took 193 pitches for Mr. Nibbles to labor through 9.2 innings. He gave up 6 earned runs, 7 walks, and 12 hits.

How do you spell relief? T-O-N-Y W-A-T-S-O-N. Tony Watson took the ball and did his job flawlessly 4 times this week. He pitched 4 scoreless innings, whiffed 5 hitters, and recored 3 Holds in the process. Watson has not allowed a run since April 21st.

#HURDLED: Did Hurdle lift Francisco Liriano too quickly on Friday night? I dunno. These late West Coast games kill me. I fell asleep with the game on. When I woke up I found that the bullpen imploded, killing the Pirates 7 game win steak. Liriano was dominating the Padres through 6 innings. He was under 100 pitches, albeit barely.

Cannonballs: Francisco Cervelli, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Jung Ho Kang, Gregory Polanco (2), Starling Marte

The little things that matter: This week Pedro Alvarez beat the shift with three routine ground balls through a vacated hole at shortstop. Pedro is showing more situational awareness at the plate this season than at any point of his career.

It must be Hidden Vigorish: Here is a quick recap of A.J. Burnett‘s season.

First 5 Starts: 0-1 with 1.45 ERA
Last 5 Starts: 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA

The difference is the Pirates have scored 36 runs in his last 5 starts while totaling just 7 runs in first 5 outings.


Stats that blow my mind: Jeff Locke has never had a season in which he posted a FIP below 4.00.Vance Worley has posted a FIP under 4.00 every season with the exception of his injury riddled 2013 campaign. Why do the Pirates continue to favor Locke over Worley?

Records and Milestones:

He said what: Christian Yelich crushed two balls off of Gerrit Cole on Wednesday afternoon. Starling Marte robbed Yelich of a homer on the first one. The second hit found the seats. Cole had this to say about Yelich after the game:

As far as I’m concerned, we’re even.


Tweet of the week: Pedro Alvarez has made a lot strides as a hitter this year, but as David Todd points out he looks horrible defensively at first base.


Front Office Notes: Radhames Liz was DFA’d to make room Charlie Morton


On The Farm: The bad news is that Nick Kingham is officially done for the year. TJ Surgery on his elbow will sideline him for 12+ months. The good news is that Jameson Taillon has progressed to throwing simulated games. He should begin a rehab assignment in competitive minor league games soon.

Highlight of the week: Jung Ho Kang crushed this majestic home run into the second deck at Petco Park.



Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 5-18-15 to 5-24-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 5/18/15 thru 5/24/15, the 7th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 3 Wins and 2 Losses, 29 Runs Scored and 16 Runs Allowed.

Hero of the week: Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen was 9 for 20 and jacked three homers into the stands at PNC Park this week. Enough said.

Zero of the week: Neil Walker. While the rest of the lineup was heating up Walker went ice cold. He collected to just 2 hits in 19 ABs and finished the week in an 0 for 14 skid.

How do you spell relief? J-A-R-E-D H-U-G-H-E-S. Jared Hughes allowed just 1 base runner in his three innings of scoreless relief this week.

#HURDLED: Arquimedes Caminero breezed through the 12th inning on 6 pitches against the Twins on Wednesday night. In the bottom of the 12th manager Clint Hurdle elected to pinch hit for Caminero with 1 out and nobody on base. Such a move would make sense if the Pirates still had a reliable relief pitcher available in the pen or a thumper on the bench that could end the game with one swing of the bat. The Pirates had neither. The only available pinch hitter was Chris Stewart who weakly grounded out. Hurdle then handed the game over to the dumpster fire that is Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo predictably coughed up the game.

Cannonballs: Pedro Alvarez (2), Andrew McCutchen (3), Starling Marte

The little things that matter: Once again Starling Marte fell asleep while fielding a base hit which resulted in the Twins scoring three runs on a soft single to left field.

It must be Hidden Vigorish: The Pirates dropped another extra inning game to fall to 0-6 on the season. This game was lost when southpaw Antonio Bastardo coughed up a gopher ball to left-handed hitting Joe Mauer – a notable singles hitter. It was Mauer’s first home run of the season.

Stats that blow my mind: Pirates starting pitchers posted a triple double in strikeouts over the Mets this weekend. Gerrit Cole whiffed 10 Mets on Friday Night, A.J. Burnett recorded 10 Ks on Saturday, and Francisco Liriano tallied an even dozen on Sunday afternoon. The last time the Pirates had 3 straight triple digit strikeout games from their starting rotation was 1969.

Records and Milestones: On Saturday Andrew McCutchen blasted his 62nd home run at PNC Park to become the all-time leader in the 14 year history of the ballpark.


He said what: Quick guess, who do you think Clint Hurdle is referring to?

He’s that guy that can take some swings that make you go, ‘Huh?’ Then before you know it he’s trotting around the bases.


Tweet of the week:


Front Office Notes: He’s back! Jose Tabata was recalled this week and actually made a contribution with two pinch hit RBI singles. Now he will go on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring in 3…2…1…


On The Farm: Middle infielder Alen Hanson is on a tear at AAA. In the month of May he is slashing 330/371/545 and has swiped 7 bags in 8 attempts.

Highlight of the week: Pedro Alvarez sank a battleship on the Allegheny River with this cannonball.



Pirates TWIBB Notes for Week of 5-11-15 to 5-17-15

Here are your This Week in Buccos Baseball Notes for 5/11/15 thru 5/17/15, the 6th week of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 regular season.

Weekly result: 3 Wins and 4 Losses, 29 Runs Scored and 27 Runs Allowed

Hero of the week: A.J. Burnett notched two wins while allowing just 1 earned run in 14 innings and tallying 12 strikeouts. On Sunday against the Cubs, Burnett played the stopper. He shut out the Cubbies over 7 innings to put an end to the Pirates 4 game losing streak.

Zero of the week: Jeff Locke. I don’t like to single out starting pitchers when they only make 1 start in a given week, but Locke was so bad on Friday that it just can’t be ignored. Mr. Nibbles once against was too afraid to attack hitters in the strike zone. The result was a laborious 102 pitches before being lifted with 2 outs in the 4th inning. Yes, 102 pitches and couldn’t even get through 4 innings! Of those 102 pitches only 56 were strikes. Mr. Nibbles walked 5 hitters and gave up 5 runs. In the rare instances when Locke did put the ball over the dish the Cubs smacked him around for 6 hits including 2 Home Runs.

How do you spell relief? T-O-N-Y W-A-T-S-O-N. Tony Watson appeared twice this week and posted 3 more scoreless innings. Watson has not allowed a run in his last 13 innings.

#HURDLED: Clint Hurdle still has this crazy idea that Corey Hart can play right field. Hart’s lack of mobility probably cost the Pirate a win in Philadelphia when a catchable ball fell in front of the statue playing in RF to give the Phillies a lead. However, I can’t say for certain that Hart cost them this game as the usual right fielder is as clumsy as a drunk man trying to pass a sobriety field test.

Cannonballs: Starling Marte, Josh Harrison (2), Andrew McCutchen (2), Pedro Alvarez, Sean Rodriguez.

The little things that matter: Starling Marte was a little too nonchalant throwing a ball back to the infield against Phillies on Wednesday and the result was the slow footed Carlos Ruiz taking second base. This mistake had a big impact on an inning that unravelled for the Pirates in a 3-2 loss. Had Ruiz been held at first and a double play been kept in order the Pirates probably would have escaped the inning with only 1 run scoring. Instead the Phillies plated 3 runs in a game the Pirates would lose 3-2.

It must be Hidden Vigorish: On 5/13/15 Andrew McCutchen got a hit with the bases loaded. Amazingly Cutch had not had a base knock with the bases loaded since 2012.

Stats that blow my mind: 1.38. That is A.J. Burnett’s ERA. But wait, there is more …


Records and Milestones: See Above.


He said what: Clint Hurdle discussing Gregory Polanco after he was tripped up the Wrigley Field turf monster.

I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s mentally strong enough. He’s going to have to be. You love this game, and this game will love you back. If you hate this game, it will hate you back.


Tweet of the week: This team might not be as complete as some folks originally thought. They do have some issues. The back end of the rotation looks very vulnerable right now.


Front Office Notes: The Bucs were forced to bring up a relief pitcher to bolster their depleted bullpen after two straight early exits by starting pitchers. Wilfredo Boscan was called up. To take his place utility player Steve Lombardozzi was optioned.


On The Farm: Altoona Curve second basemen Max Moroff has been the breakout player of the organization in 2015 so far. The 22 year old Moroff has an .844 OPS and has reached base in 31 of 33 games this season.

Highlight of the week: Gregory Polanco had a Little League moment when he tripped while trying to catch a routine ball in the 12th inning against the Cubs on 5/15. The play resulted in the Pirates absorbing another walk off loss to a division rival. This play will live on in baseball blooper reels forever.



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