Friday, May 14, 2010

McClutch, Jones and the Pen Quiet Cubs

Maybe it was leaving the Three Rivers behind. Maybe it was a chance to face off against the tail-spinning Cubbies. Maybe it was the opportunity to hit against a pitcher who was a Pirate not so long ago. Or maybe it was just the law of averages finally kicking in.

Whatever it was, the Bucs should bottle the stuff. Led by Andrew McCutchen setting the table, Garrett Jones cleaning it, and a bullpen on a mission, Pittsburgh ended their misery by pounding out a 10-6, come from ahead win against Chicago.

The Pirates stormed to the lead by scoring three times in the first; Brian Burres gave up four before they'd bat again and would get the hook after four frames and six runs. No big deal.

McCutchen and Jones put on a middle-of-the-order clinic, going 10-for-11 and each pounding out a homer among five hits. They teamed up to score seven times and drive in seven runs, McClutch touching home five times and Jones bringing home five ducks. McCutchen added a walk and two stolen bases to explode out of his modest slump.

It's the first time in 40 years that two Pirates have had five hits in the same game. On Aug. 1, 1970, Bob Robertson and Willie Stargell, also hitting back-to-back, both had five hits in a 20-10 win over the Braves (the Pirates missed an extra point).

But the key was the work of DJ Carrasco, Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan, and Octavio Dotel. They worked five scoreless innings, throwing four hit ball and striking out eight. Pitching wins games, even if they are prima facie slugfests.

The Cubs couldn't do the same. After Gorzo was shown the door, the Bucs clawed back against five Chi-town relievers, eventually breaking it open with a three spot in the eighth against Carlos Zambrano thanks to Jones' tie-breaking blast, his fifth of the season.

Paul Maholm will try to keep the good times rollin' tomorrow against Ryan Dempster.

-- Andrew McCutchen became the fifth Pirate in the expansion era to score five runs in game, joining Pops Stargell, Rennie Stennett (in his famous 7-for-7 game), Bobby Bo, and Brian Giles. Pretty fast company, no?

-- Steve Pearce left the game with soreness in his knee while running the bases. And to show you what kind of day it was for the Bucs, his pinch-runner, Zach Duke, scored.

-- Ronny Cedeno started today. There was some concern that his wrist injury may have laid him up for most of the series, but he toughed it out and should be good to go now.

-- Ryan Church's wrist is recovered enough now that he can play again. He's expected to get the start tomorrow.

-- Everyone in the Pirates' starting lineup reached base at least once, except for you-know-who. Aki Iwamura went 0-for-6, dropping his batting average to .161. Neil Walker has been playing second base for the past week or two at Indy; it may be getting near time to bring him to the show if he and the brass can kiss and make up.

Walker's average is .338, and he leads the International League with 45 hits. He has 24 RBI with five homers, sixteen doubles, and a .602 slugging percentage.

-- The Pirates are 7-2 when they hit two or more homers in a game.

-- In his rant regarding Tampa Bay's inability to draw fans, Fox Sport's Ken Rosenthal suggests contraction - of bad owners. He says "...just think: If the Rays played in Pittsburgh, they would pack PNC Park. So, stick the Rays in Pittsburgh. Instant management upgrade..."


WilliamJPellas said...

Lou Pinella is about to be fired in Chicago. I don't see how he can possibly survive much longer. The way he's jerked Zambrano around, all by itself, ought to be enough to punch his ticket. I think he's lost that team.

Ron Ieraci said...

I guess $145M don't get you what it used too, Will. Personally, I don't think the team has given up on Sweet Lou as much as he's given up on it. There's not much you can do to motivate a veteran team if it doesn't have the professionalism or maybe the heart to push itself.

But you're right; his ticket is soon to be punched.