The Baby Buccos, perhaps feeling a bit under the scope when team president Frank Coonelly decided to spend some quality time with them in Chicago, broke out of their funk tonight with a 9-5 win over the Brew Crew.
No one got beaned, but there was excitement enough as PNC looked like Wrigley on the Allegheny when five balls left the yard - and amazingly, three were by the Pirates. Andy LaRoche, Garrett Jones, and Ronny Cedeno all went long, more than answering blows from Prince Fielder and Mike Cameron.
Kevin Hart gave the Bucs five good innings before giving up a two run blast to Cameron in the sixth. He finished out the frame to notch his first Pittsburgh win, aided by three innings of one-run work by the pen.
Take an early lead, add on as the game progresses, and get a decent job from the bullpen. Sounds easy, but it's been a long time since the Bucs did all three. Maybe Bryce Harper and Scott Boras aren't in the Bucs' near future, after all.
Andrew McCutchen continues to make sick plays in the outfield, and makes them look routine. The same can't be said for his new running mate, Lastings Milledge. For a five-tool guy, he sure hasn't shown much yet. It'll be interesting to see if he is just overrated or a player badly in need of some serious coaching up by the staff.
Steve Pearce made a couple of very nice plays at first. He reminds us more and more of Andy LaRoche - a young corner guy with leather galore but not much pop. They can't make them all second basemen, can they?
It'll be a long, strange trip for the Pittsburgh Baseball Club in the next couple of seasons. And anyone that thinks they can predict how the chips will fall, well, Nostrademus didn't even risk a quatrain on this team. It may not end up pretty, but it will be interesting.
-- Indy RHP Daniel McCutchen was named the International League's pitcher of the week. He went 2-0 and pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings while walking two and striking out 12.
In 30 starts this year, the former Oklahoma Sooner has posted a 15-9 record with a 3.76 ERA (74 ER in 177.2 IP) and 140 strikeouts compared to 34 walks.
McCutchen entered the 2009 season rated by Baseball America as the Pittsburgh's No. 9 prospect and as having the organization's "Best Control". He was also rated by the same publication as the No. 14 prospect in the New York Yankees Organization entering the 2008 season.
Team mate Eric Hacker won the award last week.
-- Matthew Eddy of Baseball America on Neil Walker's chances of being called up in September: "Walker has had an awesome couple of weeks with Indy, he's got a couple years at Triple-A under his belt and he's on the 40-man. That's a combination that could warrant a September callup. But the Pirates' new regime has less incentive to call him up than did the old one. They have less at stake."-- Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette reports that Pedro Alvarez has been invited to represent the United States in the International Baseball Federation's World Cup, which begins September 9th and takes place in various major cities across Europe.
Class AA Altoona's season ends September 7th, and the Pirates hadn't planned to call Pedro up this season. It looks like a nice opportunity knocking on the door for the third baseman to close out his first full season as a pro.