Friday, June 6, 2008

Just do it...

Brandon Webb was all that he was advertised to be, changing speeds, keeping the ball down, throwing strikes, and eventually winning his 11th game, 3-1, over the Bucs.

But the story was watching the D-backs do the little things that it takes to win a close game. They got the leadoff batter on 4 times, and plated him 3 times. And two of those runners were gimmes, reaching on a walk and a hit batsman. The pitcher singled in a run.

The Pirates? The first inning was a perfect example. Nate McLouth was on third with one away, the infield sat back - and Jay Bay popped up into shallow center. This was against a pitcher that that only allowed 4 fly ball outs all night.

We understand that he's trying to hit a fly to bring home the bacon. But when you're batting against one of the league's premier ground ball artists whose infield is conceding the run, wouldn't the smart play be a three hopper to second instead of trying to lift the ball? Little things add up.

Arizona knows that taking one run at a time will carry the day more often than not, a lesson that Pittsburgh, for its' impressive big-inning offense, has yet to learn.

The Pirates, as usual, made some noise in the ninth, stranding a pair. They might have even made a game of it if Adam LaRoche's shot wasn't hit right at the second baseman.

He's either the unluckiest human in a big league uniform or can only hit a ball up the first base line and at the second base hole.

Maybe staying back on the ball, elevating his swing a scootch and using more of the field would cure what ails him. Bad breaks or not, his .212 average in the heart of the lineup sticks out like a red flag.

Ian Snell pitched a decent game over five innings before leaving after taking a shot off the back. He struck out nine, allowing five hits and three walks. And five was all he was going anyway - he was behind batters way too often and threw 107 pitches in that span. Pittsburgh needs more out of him.

The Pirates should remember that the NL prides itself on small ball. Maybe they wouldn't need their late inning heroics if they were more efficient early on. Long journeys begin with small steps.


WilliamJPellas said...

I think you're onto something here, Ron. This Pirates team looks more like an American League squad than it does anything else. A bunch of big-swinging leadfoots and a pitch-to-contact pitching staff equals what they used to call the Boston Red Sox.

Ron said...

You know, Bill, you mentioned before that Russell seemed to be an AL kinda manager, and after watching the baserunning, the way he handles pitchers, and dependence on the big inning, it sure looks that way.
Now whether that's his preference or just what he's stuck with will be seen down the line. You're right that the team's lead footed overall, but there are still spots when you need to put the pressure on.
Beasley did it last night when he waved Sanchez home on a 50-50 ball. He knew runs wouldn't come easy and pushed the play to try to get one. we'd like to see that pressure on a permanent basis, kinda the way LaRussa does it in St. Louis. we're not the Cubs, but we try to play like them.