Woo wee. This weekend has been a pivital one for the Pirates. After the firesale of the week before, the Pirates had a big target on their backs. People have been doubting the moves and mentality of the Pittsburgh organization and the Bucs needed to step up and show what they were really made of.
Andrew McCutchen got the memo and delievered. In a big way. In Friday’s 5-4 win over the Nationals Cutch collected 2 key hits. On Saturday he definetly rose to the occasion. Number 22 belted 3, count em 3 homeruns! It was truly a sight to behold. All 3 dingers sailed over the left field wall in about the same location. He hit one in the first, to lead it off, one in the fourth and one in the seventh. However, he did’nt stop there. McCutchen showcased his outstanding speed and laid down a bunt towards the third base line. He zoomed down to first and was in there with a key single. He ended up 4-5 in the game with a total of 6 RBI and 4 runs scored.
Andrew earned his first curtain call at PNC Park. Now I love a good curtain call. The player just completed an aswesome feat and it is so impressive to me that the fans recognize what went down and pay their respects to the player in a very loyal way. I for one think its filled with pagentry that can’t be touched in any way. I take curtain calls very seriously and fondly remember two that took place at PNC Park that I was a part of.
Remember Derek Bell? If not he was a player for the Mets who was a solid big leaguer. He had some good seasons and was signe dby the Bucs one offseason. He started off the year slow and was booed for a good part of the first half. But one fateful Saturday night he belted his first dinger of the season and the crowd went nuts. I’m not sure if it was for his HR or that it put the Pirates up by one against the Astros in the 8th inning. Nonetheless, the corwd remained on their feet for a few minutes after he had touched home. Bell came out of the dugout after high fiving teammates and tipped his cap to the adoring Pittsburghers.
Just this year former Buc Craig Monroe followed in the similar footsteps of Bell. He was an off season acquistion and just getting used to the new club. He was a solid bench player and a likeable guy (the polar opposite of Bell in terms of personality). In a game against the Braves on a Saturday in April Monroe went haywire. He smashed 2 homeruns to starighaway center field that landed in the bullpen. It was great for Monroe to show his raw power and get his name out to the fans. After the second homerun I remember remianing standing and yelling “Hey Craigger” I was sitting behind homeplate close to the field but still a long shot if he actually heard me. Others around me began to stand and cheer loud and even louder than I was. It caught fire and the entire stadium was up and booming, the Craig came to the top step and showed his appreciation. I kind of take pride in the fact that I was kind of the firestarter.
McCutchen’s big night was the number 7 top play on Sportscenter from the night. Sportscenter really did the game justice with about 5 minutes of coverage, honestly the most I have seen given to the Pirates in quite some time. It was awesome sitting on my couch watching the most famous sports show paying all this homage to Cutch and the Pirates. After the 3 minute long highlight the hosts talked about famous Pirates that hit 3 homeruns in one game. Willie Stargell did it as well as Roberto Clemente. Just seeing Andrew’s face among these two MLB legends was inspiring. Even though he is so young Andrew has already left his mark and gotten the attention of everyone in the baseball world. It would feel like a dream if only Cutch can do the things “Pops” and “The Great One” did in a Pirates uniform.
Watching the national attention of the game made me want to laugh and say hey…I told ya so. Earlier in the week ESPN was bashing the Pirates left and right. Reporters on “Around the Horn” was harsh with the Pittsburgh ownership suggesting the MLB step in and kick out the owners. On “Pardon the Interruption” Tony and Michael were also tough and just plain rude. The Pirates won 2 games since the trade dealine and won them impressively. Although they lost 5-3 on Sunday they are still in good shape and poised to finish off the season competitively.
Picture credit: postgazette.com, AP
5….5 losses…5 losses in a row!
The Bucs can’t seem to do anything right. In yesterday’s ball game the team only mustered up 4 hits. 2 of which came from the bat of backup catcher Robinzon Diaz and one of which came from pitch Ross Ohlendorf. The incompetence at the plate has to stop. We’re a major league club for crying out loud. It’s tough to see the team get so overmatched by Todd Wellemeyer.
Coming into the game Wellemeyer has the Major League’s most hittable pitcher. Opposing teams possessed a .345 batting avergae against the veteran. Leave it to the makes to make him look liek Sandy Koufax on the mound.
I’ve been an advocate for Craig Monroe all season. I like what he brings to the table in terms of speed, power and leadership. He has a track record of major league experience and he tore it up in Spring Training. While he has been used sparingly in rare spot starts and pinch hitting opportunities he needs consistent time in the lineup to flourish. He got that time yesterday and completely laid an egg. Monroe went 0-4 and bobble a routine fly ball in right field. (pictured to the left). Monore has also faltered recently in his position as a pinch hitter. In his past two experiences he has gone without a hit.
It’s all part of the trials and tribulations of being a reserve player. You’re expected to perform at your best when called upon. The only problem with that is you never know when you will be called upon. No matter if you’ve been swinging the bat well or if you are rusty its hard to tell when the right situation will come up.
For Monroe the road has been long. A starter in Detroit and a reserve in Minnesota he has made the transition to the NL. While Brandon Moss has been anything but spectacular, he gets the nod over Monroe in almost every game.
If this team hopes to salvage the season something needs to be changed now. The offense is attrocious. The pitching staff has been falling apart. The team lacks experience and the talent in order to succeed and win.
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THE JOLLY ROGER…7-6
I’m baffled. Being a Pirate fan is one of the most confusing loyalties I can think of. One night, we’re shut out. We look like we couldn’t even get a hit off a 12 year old, the next night we torch the opposition with 11 hits and 8 runs, exactly what we did on Monday.
With every position player in the starting lineup getting a hit, the rally was on going all game. With Craig Monroe seeing starting action in right field and Jason Jaramillo playing behind the plate, two reserves got great experience and were a major part of the blowout win.
Monroe was 1-4 while scoring a run and Jaramillo was 2-4 scoring a run of his own.
As always, fireworks were let off after the Bucco win, however the offensive fireworks came in the 6th inning. Nate McLouth jacked a homerun over the right field wall, out of the park. The ball bounced off the riverwalk and SPLASH into the Alegheny. It was only the 24th ball to land in the water in the history of PNC Park.
While the offense provided the headlines, Ross Ohlendorf led the sidebar.
Going 7 innings only allowing 2 hits, the quality start for Ohlendorf was a real confidence booster and showed how commanding he can actually be. Its not everyday you completely shut down the MLB’s best team. The Pirates handed the Marlins just their second loss of teh season, by doing so the Bucs flat out embarrased the Fish. 2 hits through the course of the game, allowed the Pirates to exploit the over rated Florid team.
However, the real embarrasment came in the stands. An announced attendance of just over 8,000 made PNC Park look like an empty abyss. The crowd looked even smaller than the announced attendance. With all the deal offered by the organization and the team actually playing good, its amazing that more people don’t come out to support the Bucs. As a college student I try to do my share. I’ve been to three home games already on the young season. Obviously, I can’t make every game, and neither can the entire population of the Burgh metropolitan area. But at lease show an effort people. You make the city look bad when you don’t show up! I guess the game could technically be seen as a sellout, if blue plastic seats took over the world! The game was even seen live on ESPN for a brief moment for a live look in. Across the country baseball fans and sports fans in general saw first hand our lackluster fan support. Looks like we may need to borrow the jolly roger’s eye patch to cover up the black eye our team, stadium, organization, franchise and city just recieved.
RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…6-5
It was another beautiful day at PNC Park. My second game of the year and every second of it was fantastic. Adorning my Ian Snell jersey with a purpose, as he took the mound for his third start of the season. Surprising enough Snell was very effective. Seven scoreless innings, three strikeouts and only four hits was his stat line in the afternoon contest. While Snell was anything but commanding he got the job done. Giving hitters favorable counts and throwing many pitches in the dirt you could tell there is still work to be done. However, Snell did everything anybody could ask for. He got pitchers to pop out or groundout and shut down the heart of the Braves lineup.
One lineup that was not shut down was that of the Pirates.
Look the poise in that man’s eyes. Monroe jacked two bombs right to the heart of center field, 3-run shots to be exact. Without a doubt Monroe is the biggest power asset on the team. With 16 RBI and 6 homers in spring training, Monroe led the club. I said this man was going to be a threat and needed to get in the lineup. If you don’t believe me go back some pages and check for yourself. Monroe has a sweet swing and connects on good pitches. All he needs is an opportunity.
What concerns me the most is our outfield situation. Make no mistake about it our outfield is great. We have good players who are blossoming (Moss), vets who are solid (McLouth-spelled it right didnt I Jon? and Hinske), guys with something to prove (Morgan and Monroe) and a wildcard who is supposed to be the real deal (Young.) It’s crowded out there. I’m concerned that every player won’t get their fair share and playing time will be limitied for all. While I do believe competition brings out the best in people, it may not be the best idea for the Pirates. We need to have an everyday lineup set in stone. Im not a big fan of the platoon system. It could work for righty-left matchups but other than that I think it sets up for turmoil in the clubhouse.
A 10-0 Pirate win capped off a great day. My good friend Andrew Schuerholz is a Braves fan and it was great to rub it in his face. If the name Schuerholz sounds familiar chances are it is. Andrew is the nephew of Braves VP and former general manager John Schuerholz. Uncle John hooked us up with great seats. Row D right behind home plate. It was cool sitting amongst the hot shots of the MLB. We were right behind a group of scouts from various major league teams. The Marlins, Brewers, Rockies, Dodgers and Blue Jays were all represented in two rows of seats. By witnessing the way the follow and critique the game I came to the conclusion that I want to be a baseball scout.
Each of the scouts had notebooks such as this one. It was a collection of the most extensive baseball data I have ever seen. Each player was evaluated down to the finest detail. Location of pitches, how batters looked at pitches and time between action was all taken down into account. It was amazing how these guys followed the game and knew how the players would do in certain situations. It’s a cool job and something I would love to have more information on.
Once again it was another great day at the best ballpark in America. The sun drenched cty of Pittsburgh looked fabulous as always and added memorable moments I wont soon forget.
The view from our great seats…
It looks like competition really does bring out the best in people. Craig Monroe belted 3…count ’em THREE home runs in todays game against the Twins.
Monroe comes in just fighting for a spot on the 25 man roster. If today’s performance doesn’t say anything I don’t know what will.
The man knows how to be an everyday player. At 32 he’s surely got a few more years left in him, he just needs a fair chance.
Yes it is just spring training but this is where it starts. Monroe has been getting quality at bats and sees his name in the lineup a good amount of times. The experience and test runs will only help the vet get his appropriate trial.
While it seems that he has earned his own and he has garnered a spot on the team, his next goal is to crack the starting lineup come April 6th.
He told pirates.com’s Jennifer Langosch after the game that he won’t jump the gun.
“I’m not going to get ahead of myself,” Monroe said. “I’m going to
study the course and keep doing work with [hitting coach] Donnie Long.
If I can keep working like that and keep seeing the results, then I’ll
be pretty excited about what happens.”
It’s good to see he’s still got a level ahead and knows his spot. It looks like I’m the one who really wants this guy to succeed. Go get ’em Craig. The Pittsburgh Peas supports you. Keep it up!
Brandon Moss has been quite the interesting story since his arrival in Pittsburgh last July. He was relatively unheard of but handed the starting job in rightfield. He had done a decent job (.246 8HRs 34 RBIS) for stepping in right away. He has had time to develop into what the Pirates hope will be a long lasting future at the helm in right.
A roadblock has arisen in the the middle of Mazeroski Way. Moss has been experiencing soreness in his right thumb. After seeing a specalist in Pittsburgh it has been announced that a mild sprain has occured.
While the injury is not too catastrophic, Moss will be setback. He has yet to clearly prove himself at this level and spring would have been a great time for him to show he truly belongs. While he was surely to make a spot on the team, the extra effort could not have hurt at all.
With the falling of Moss, the competition will step up. The outfield depth is strong with many players competing for the finals spots on the roster.
The one player I would love to come into his own is Craig Monroe. As I’ve stated in my previous entry, Monroe is a solid player and a favorite of mine. He provides great leadership and the most veteran prescence available on the team. He has used the spring to show last season in Minnesota was a fluke. (.202 8 HRs 29 RBIs). In Detroit a few years back
Monroe was a clutch player and looked upon to come through in big at bats. He thrived in that role, however when the Tigers looked to reload by signing Maglio Ordonez, Monroe was sent packing in a tear-jerker of a move. Monroe has not had the opportunity to be in the go-to situation as he was a few years back.
My dream situation would be a platoon between Monroe and Eric Hinske. Right field would be a great place to put these B-level MLB stars. The 1-2 punch of Monroe and Hinske would be a great test for the two seasoned vets and give Monroe the key at bats he needs in order to produce at his best.