Pirates Morning Report: Over 300 Million In Disarray

Final Score: Pirates 14 Mets 7

Why The Pirates Won: The bats woke up big time, scoring 14 runs and collecting 17 hits to go along with 4 walks. Leading the way were Ke’Bryan( I’m Starting To Hit Even Though I Still Take Pitches Right In The Heart Of The Plate) Hayes with 5 hits and Jack Suwinski going 3 for 4 with a double and a home run. It was also nice to see Carlos Santana knock one over the fence. The Pirates were 7 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Rich (I’m Glad They Didn’t Make Me Throw Any More Pitches) Hill went 7 innings giving up 2 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks, while striking out 6, on a whopping 119 pitches. He only walked 2 but most of the night he was working from behind in the count. The Mets made it a little interesting at the end by scoring 5 runs in the top of the 9th but the Pirates put them away to send the Mets to their 7th straight defeat.

Key Moment Of The Game: Going into the bottom of the 3rd the score was tied 2-2 and Rich Hill was again running through the raindrops. After one out Andrew McCutchen got an infield single deep in the hole at short. Carlos Santana hit a weak ground ball right up the middle just to the left of the 2nd base bag. Francisco Lindor tried to scoop the ball, start his throwing motion, while trying to step on 2nd base to start what would have been an easy double play. He dropped the ball. This essentially opened the gates for the Pirates to score 5 runs to take a commanding 7-2 lead. The inning was highlighted by the Ke’Bryan Hayes philosophy of hitting. He took 2 strikes basically down the middle and then laced a single to left center on a ball that was about 6 inches above his ankles to drive in 2 runs. Ji Hwan Bae’s bunt was thrown all over the field to allow the Pirates to score 2 more runs and the rout was on.

Next Game: This afternoon, Mets in Pittsburgh. This year Major League Baseball started the balanced schedule, where every team plays the same schedule. There was much analysis of this on what divisions would benefit from this the most. Luck was not taken into consideration. The luck of when you catch some of these teams. Right now, the Mets are in total disarray and hopefully they will stay that way for 2 more games. Eventually they will turn this around and be one of the hottest teams in the league. Last night’s win assured the Pirates of a winning home stand. Let’s hope they can make it into a great homestand.

Pirates Morning Report: 61 Games In

When I last looked at the Pirates, they were 20-9 and had one of the best records in baseball. Since then, they’ve gone 12-20 to stand at 32-29 and are in 2nd place, one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers, but tied in the loss column. Most of the Pirate woes have been blamed on the offense, but as you will see their entire game as gone in decline. In the categories OBP, Runs per Game, and OPS+ the Pirates went from 3rd, 5th, and 4th, respectively, to 12th, 16th and 14th. On the pitching side of the ledger, Runs per Game Against, ERA+, and FIP the Pirates fell from 4th, 4th, and 6th, to 12th, 12th, and 14th. Even their Defense Efficiency Rating, which was not that great to begin with, fell from 17th to 23rd. This has been a team effort to say the least. However, there have been some individuals that have contributed to the Pirates’ decline more than others.

Ji Hwan Bae despite all the hype in the broadcast booth is a below average hitter and a negative fielder, especially on the infield. Defensively his best position is centerfield. He is only 23 and I think he needs to stay on the Major League club, but he will need to improve his game. Ke’Bryan Hayes, even though he improved somewhat over this 32 game stretch, continues to be a well below average hitter. Granted he is sensational in the field, but he is playing a hitting position. He takes pitches that are right down the middle of the plate. If he could correct that problem, there may be some hope. Carlos Santana has done a solid job at first base, but he has hit only 3 home runs and has an OPS+ of only 85. Last year he hit 19 home runs, but it does not seem like he will come close to that number this year. Austin Hedges is slugging .216, has an OPS+ of 28, and quite frankly has not been that great behind the plate, with several catcher interference calls that always seems to lead to runs.

On the pitching side of the ball, all the starters are around average or above average at run prevention except for Roansy Contreras. Last year he looked so good, with an ERA of 3.79 and an ERA+ of 107. This year he seems to be getting more and more lost with every start. Add to that, Mitch Keller’s last 3 starts have been getting worse and worse. Someway, somehow these two have to turn it around or this is going to be one long summer. The bullpen is by far the strongest part of this team but even they have had some disastrous performances. In my view, this will be the biggest challenge for the Pirate management team, to get this staff back on track, particularly the starters.

What will the next 30 games bring for the Pirates? That is just one of many questions that will get answered over the next 30 to 35 days. Will management bring up some of the young players once that magical date in June passes? I admit, I don’t know what that date is and don’t want to know, it disgusts me so much. Will management make any trades to gives some immediate help to this team? Their needs are obvious. They need a hitter in the outfield. They need to find some offense at 3rd and catcher. If they are going to make it to game 90 and still be in contention for the division title, the three young pitchers, Keller, Contreras, and Ortiz all need to find themselves and start pitching the way they were before. The injuries to Cruz and Choi have hurt the Pirates, especially the one to Cruz. In fact, I wrote if Cruz gets hurt all bets are off for this team trying to contend. They have proved me wrong so far. However, if this team does not get some help pretty soon from down on the farm or via trade, then these next 30 games will be worse than just what has passed.

Golf Diary

The Round: Played South Park Score 72 Greens In Reg. 8 Putts 27

The Good: Played from the senior tees and it seems when I play from those tees my putter is on fire. I had a lot of balls on the fringe and I got it up and down 9 out of 10 times. Six of those times it was with the putter from off the fringe. I got it up and down 3 out of 4 times with chipping or pitching. Despite having such a good day with the putter, I three putted the 9th green from about 10 feet for one of my bogies. I had 2 birdies and 2 bogies and the rest pars.

The Bad: It would be too harsh to say my long game was bad but I could not put it under the good. The best way to describe my long game would be inconsistent. I hit an 8 iron on a par 3 about 50 yards. I hope I don’t have to write that the par 3 was longer than that. It led to the other bogey. I drove the ball well in the early part of the round but after the 10th hole my driver just quit functioning and I never really hit another good one the rest of the day. I was hitting this low hook but not really a bad duck hook and with the dry ground the ball would roll a long way. Then I started hitting it right on a few holes to overcompensate. I was hitting my irons out of the rough a lot, so it was hard to judge just how well I was hitting them, but I did not have any disastrous shots with the irons, other than the 8 iron.

The Luck Of The Round: I hit some shots that I thought would roll into the woods but the rough held them up just enough. My lies in the rough were always pretty decent. I had some really nice putts to save par, with many of them going in the right or left center of the hole and none lipped out. I did not get any bad breaks.

Next Round: Sunday, Lake Arthur in Butler Pa.

Pirates Morning Report: Just Like The Steelers

Final Score: Pirates 5 A’s 9

Why The Pirates Lost: Roansy Contreras had a terrible outing only getting one out and giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and was charged with 7 runs. Despite such a poor performance the Pirates had their chances to get back in this game. They could not do it despite getting 9 hits and 7 walks. They were able to score 5 runs but they had several opportunities to score more. They did close the lead to 7-3, but then fell behind 9-3, before closing the gap to 9-5. They never were able to put any real pressure on the A’s. The homestand is now 4-2 and looks like it could be headed for a 5-4 finish or even worse. The less said about this game, the better. The Pirate’s record has fallen to 32-29.

Key Moments Of The Game: The Pirates had failed on previous opportunities earlier in this game, but none more than in the bottom of the 7th. The A’s had just added on to their lead and score was 9-3. With one out, the Pirates started another A’s induced rally. Delay walks, McCutchen singles, and Reynolds walks. Connor Joe walks to force in a run. The Pirates had cut the lead to 9-4 and the big hit would have gone a long way to getting them back in the game. Carlos Santana hit into a double play and the inning was over. Not all double play balls can go between the defender’s legs. In the bottom of the 9th the Pirates got something going again, by loading the bases after they scored their 5th run, with only one out. There was no key hit to be found and the Pirates went down to defeat for the second straight time to the lowly Oakland A’s

Next Game: Friday night, Mets in Pittsburgh. Maybe the Pirates were looking ahead to this series and just did not pay attention to the A’s. They certainly did not use the top half of their bullpen much. The did play down to the level of their opponent just like the big bad Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, the Steelers lost to the Raiders when they were in Oakland a couple of times in recent years when the Raiders were pretty pathetic. Tomorrow the Pirates 61 game report.

Pirates Morning Report: Another Blow Out Loss, Will Good Things Follow.

Final Score: Pirates 2 A’s 11

Why The Pirates Loss: The offense could not get the 2 out hit. Even though the Pirates won the first game of the series, this has been the big difference. In the Cardinal series, the Pirates scored all their runs with 2 outs. In this game they were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 9 runners on base. Mitch Keller had his 3rd mediocre performance in a row. In fact, you could call this outing just plain bad. It is concerning that Keller just seems to be getting worse not better. In just 5 and 1/3 innings he gave up 8 hits, charged with 5 runs, walked 4, while striking out only 1 batter. At least we did not have to listen to the Pirate booth talk about so many games in a row with 8 strikeouts. There was still some hope going into the 8th inning with the score 5-2 A’s, when Chase De Jong entered the game. De Jong pitched a splendid 2 innings giving up 6 runs, on 5 hits, including 3 home runs, walking 1, striking out 2, while throwing 53 pitches. However, all is not lost for De Jong. He got calls from numerous players who are considering participating in the home run derby, asking if he would be their pitcher. The loss sent the Pirates tumbling out of 1st place with a record of 32-28.

Key Moment Of The Game: In the bottom of the first the Pirates are facing a pitcher that has not won a game and has an ERA of over 8. Marcano opens the game with a double and Reynolds walks. McCutchen flies out. Jack Suwinski hits a perfect double play ball that goes right between the 2nd baseman’s legs, that scores Marcano and the Pirates have 1st and 3rd with one out, instead of the inning being over. It looks like the A’s are going to give us another one. Connor Joe pops out, Josh Palacios flies out and Pirates let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. Starting pitcher James Kaprielian goes on to pitch a nice solid 6 innings, giving up only one more run to get his 1st win of the season.

Next Game: This afternoon, the A’s in Pittsburgh. The Pirates have bookend blow out losses around their 6 game winning streak. Maybe another good streak will start after this blow out loss. The A’s have only won 2 games in a row twice this season, although they recently beat the Atlanta Braves 2 in a row in Oakland. Roansy Contreras starts today for the Pirates. The year has not been kind to Contreras so far. He has been very up and down. Maybe he will find something today. I will admit I have softened some on the importance of this series. If the Pirates lose today it won’t be the disaster that I felt it would be when the series started. I think it is more important for Contreras to throw a good solid game today than what the final result will be. On Friday will be the 61 Game Report which will take a hard look at the 2023 Pirates with close to 40% of the season played.

Golf Diary

The Round: Played Highland Springs Score 75 Greens In Reg. 7 Putts 28

The Good: I drove the ball well in the spacious fairways of Highland Springs. My iron game was good even though I only hit 7 greens I had a lot of fringes hit. I got it up and down 6 out of 11 times with one chip in on the 2nd hole for a birdie. The putting was good, particularly the lag putting, having many tap ins for par. Chipping was good with only two yips. The weather was great and the course was in great shape. Reverted back to a swing I used in 2005 and 06 and went to a putting method where I let my arms hang naturally down and it seemed to work to get me back in the groove a little bit.

The Bad: Could have had some better chips, as I was not in trouble all day. Other than that it was a very good day. They do happen once in a while.

The Luck Of The Round: I always consider a chip in good luck, even though it was good chip and went into the hole at the right speed. Certainly, did not have any bad breaks today.

Next Round: Thursday at South Park.

Pirates Morning Report: The A’s Said Take It. The Pirates Finally Said Yes.

Final Score: Pirates 5 A’s 4

Why The Won Pirates Won: The A’s made sure of it. They gave up 10 walks, had little discipline at the plate, and dropped a blooper that was generously ruled a hit, that allowed the Pirates to score 5 runs. The Pirates scored all 5 runs on what was essentially non-hits. The blooper that was dropped, 2 walks with the bases loaded, and 2 sacrifice flies. The Pirates were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left 9 runners on base. The one hit was the bloop “double” by Connor Joe. Oviedo pitched pretty well going 7 innings, giving up 3 runs, 2 earned, 2 walks, while striking out 5. The bullpen was shaky but scraped by thanks to the A’s. The top of 8th was another gift-wrapped job by the A’s. Rob Zastryzny gave a nice DFA performance giving up a walk, a double, a line drive out, and another walk to allow the A’s to tie the game, 4-4. Angel Perdomo came in and hit a batter on an 0-2 pitch to load the bases. He goes 3 and 1 on the next batter but threw the next 3 pitches in the strike zone, to strike the batter out. Nick Allen came to the plate to help the Pirates out. Perdomo threw the next 5 pitches out of the strike zone but fortunately Allen swung at 2 of them. Did he use to play for the Pirates? The 6th pitch was finally in the zone, and he flew out to center to end the inning.

Key Moment Of The Game: Colin Holderman came on to pitch the 9th, and you knew it was going to be exciting. Esteury Ruiz led off with a base hit up the middle. The Pirates threw him out trying to steal on a bang-bang play, where he never had his lead hand on the bag. Thank you, A’s. Then Holderman gives up a double. A bit of bad luck, as a bloop fell in for a hit and the A’s had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. Somehow Holderman buckled down, like he usually does, and got a short fly ball to centerfield that could not score the run. He struck out the last batter and the Pirates had a 5-4, thank you very much, win to climb 5 games over .500 into first place.

Next Game: Tonight, the A’s in Pittsburgh. Hopefully the Pirates will play better tonight. You cannot depend on a team giving you 3 straight games. We do have Keller going tonight and this would be a good time for him to get back on track. The Pirates need 2 more wins.

Golf Diary

The Rounds: Round 1 Black Hawk Score 84 Greens In Reg. 4 Putts 34

Round 2 Riverview Score 80 Greens In Reg. 8 Putts 34

The Good: The weather, the condition of the courses, and the beer after the round.

The Bad: Too brutal to go through but the stats speak for themselves. Putting was horrible and the whole game stunk out the joint. Whenever you go through spells like this and believe me, I have gone through them many times, you basically think that they will never end. The only thing I am doing well and a lot of, is fishing. Fishing for one solution after another with no results. It is a frustrating time.

The Luck Of The Round: I am even getting some good breaks and cannot take advantage of them. Tomorrow is another day. Don’t let the sun catch you crying. Pretty deep, huh

Next Round: Tomorrow, Highland Springs.

Pirates Morning Report: Rich Hill Does It Again

Final Score: Pirates 2 Cardinals 1

Why The Pirates Won: Rich Hill went up against another very hot pitcher and outpitched him through 6 and2/3 innings. The Pirates scored their 2 runs in the first inning after 2 were out. There was a lot of traffic on the base paths during the first 3 innings. In fact, there was not a 3 up 3 down half inning until the bottom of the 4th inning. Hill followed up with two 3 up 3 down innings in the 5th and 6th. Despite all the base runners, the Pirates could only score those 2 first inning runs, and the Cardinals did not score at all. The Pirates were 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left 9 men stranded. The Cardinals failed to get a hit in 6 tries with runners in scoring position and left 8 men on base. The Cardinals broke through in the top of the 7th when Andrew Knizner hit a solo home run to make the score 2-1. Yohan Ramirez pitched a perfect 8th and Bedar got the save allowing a hit with 2 outs but striking out the last batter to give the Pirates their 5th win in a row.

Key Moment Of The Game: The first inning set the tone for the game. Tommy Edman opened the game with a double that Jack Suwinski almost made a spectacular catch on but probably kept it from being a triple. Paul Goldschmidt moved him over to third on a fly ball to right. The Cardinals kept Nolan Gorman in the 3rd slot even though he hits only .227 against left handers, and Hill was able to strike him out. Then Hill did what he does best. He got Nolan Arenado to hit a bullet right at Ke’Bryan Hayes to end the inning. Contrast that with what the Pirates did in the bottom of the first. With one out Reynolds and Suwinski had back to back singles to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Carlos Santana popped out for out number 2. Ke’Bryan Hayes then hit a hard ground ball off the glove of Goldschmidt for a single to load the bases. Ji Hwan Bae hit a soft line drive single to center to drive in the 2 runs. Hill and the bullpen were able to make the 2 runs stand up to pull out the win.

Next Game: Tonight, the A’s in Pittsburgh. The Pirates must keep the momentum going against the team with the worst record in baseball. Let’s hope they do not pull a Mike Tomlin Steeler’s move and play down to their competition. This is a must win 2 out of 3 games or this 5 game win streak has been wasted. The Pirates need to bury the A’s.

Pirates Morning Report: Pattern Broken Equals 4 Wins In A Row

Final Score: Pirates 4 Cardinals 3

Why The Pirates Won: The Pirates were able to survive an impromptu bullpen game, where everyone did not perform all that well. Overall, the bullpen was solid with the two newest members, Angel Perdomo and Yerry De Los Santos performing very well. I will have to come up with an abbreviation for Santos. His name is longer than the dearly departed DUJ. On the offense side of the ball, they were able to produce some 2 out lightening, scoring all 4 runs after 2 were out. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit another home run. Not a misprint. Colin Holderman who has been solid but always seems to keep it interesting, did a little more than that in the bottom of the 8th. He could only get through 4 batters getting one out, then giving up a single, home run and a walk. Shelton made the move and Yohan Ramirez made him look good, by getting 2 outs on only 8 pitches. Bednar gave up one hit in the 9th, but nothing else, and the Pirates had the 4-3 win to move to 30-27

Key Moments Of The Game: Another frustrating day for the Cardinals as they could not do much with 6 hits and 4 walks. They were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and left 7 men on base for the game. On the other hand, the Pirates had the big 2 out run scoring 6th inning. It opened with a rare Nolan Arenado error. After two were out, pinch runner Ji Hwan Bae was at 2nd base. Bryan Reynolds walked. On a 3-2 pitch, Connor Joe ripped a double off the base of the left field fence to score the 2 runs. Carlos Santana followed with a pop up down the left field line that fell in for a hit and the Pirates had 3 unearned runs. That fluky little 4th run proved to be the difference in the ball game.

Next Game: This afternoon, Cardinals in Pittsburgh. Miles Mikolas goes for the Cardinals today and he has not given up a run in 15 innings. Rich Hill goes for the Pirates and the last time he hadn’t given up a run in 15 innings was when he was in high school. Just kidding! The last time Hill faced a similar situation the Pirates rocked the starting pitcher and Hill threw 6 shutout innings. If that happens again the Pirates will get the sweep. Finally, the pattern of the team that won the first game of the series lost the series ended yesterday. That has happened in the last 4 series that the Pirates have played, and it only went their way once. Ok boys let’s sweep those damn Cardinals.

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