Pirates Morning Report: So Nice To Be On The Right Side Of Blowouts.

Final Score Game 1: Pirates 6 Nationals 3

Final Score Game 2: Pirates 16 Nationals 1

Why The Pirates Won: Let’s get Game 2 over with. As I use to write about the Pirates, Chad Kuhl and the Nationals took the field. Game 1 was much more competitive. Rich (I Prefer Pitching With Men On Base), Hill pitched another dancing through the raindrops 6.1 innings, giving up 3 runs, 2 earned, on 8 hits, walking no one, and striking out 5. Hill also had his at’em ball going, recording 5 line drive outs, many of them with runners on base. The bullpen came in with one out in the 7th and recorded 8 consecutive outs. The Pirate hitters took advantage of 7 walks and scored 6 runs. Miguel Andujar had a huge 2 games, going 4 for 5, with 2 home runs and 6 RBI’s. Jack Suwinski didn’t have a bad day either going 3 for 6 with 5 RBI’s, including a grand slam homerun. For the 2 games the Pirates scored 22 runs on 27 hits and walked 14 times. They are now 20-8 and need only one more win to make this a successful road trip. Of course, more than that is fine too.

Key Moments Of The Game: The 2nd game, Chad Kuhl took the mound. In the first game it was the Rich Hill, how to get out of jams show, for the 2nd consecutive start. This was almost a carbon copy of his last start. In 6 full innings of work, he had one 3up, 3 down inning. This was the Nationals nightmare. 1st inning leadoff double, no runs scored with 2 line outs. Bottom of the 3rd, bases loaded nobody out, no runs scored thanks to a line drive double play. Bottom of the 4th, they were finally able to take advantage of catchers interference with a key 2 out double to tie the score 2-2. Bottom of the 5th, no runs scored after a 1 out double, thanks to another line drive out to Connor Joe at first. The Nationals were able to get 1 run after a leadoff triple in the bottom of the 6th. The Nationals were 2-13 with runners in scoring position. How long will Rich Hill be able to keep doing this?

Next Game: This afternoon, the Nationals, in Washington D. C. Johan Oviedo will take the hill for the Pirates as they go for the sweep. You do not know if Andujar’s performance was just a fluky thing or maybe he has found something. The Pirates could use another productive right handed bat. It looks like the Pirates are going to find out, as he is staying up for a while. Let’s hope mother nature lets them go for their 21st win.

Pirates Morning Report: Only Mother Nature Can Stop This Team

The Pirates were rained out of their game with the Nationals yesterday and will play a day night doubleheader today. The Pirates have finally captured the attention of the national media. The main theme is, are the Pirates for real? Many are not believers, saying that the Pirates are playing out of their minds, or things are going their way. Nothing could be further from the truth. What is true, is that the so-called experts, can’t stand looking so bad. Even though I thought this team would be a contender, when few people did, they are playing better than even I thought they would. Let’s take a look at why the national media thinks the Pirates are off to such a good start.

The Pirates are playing out of their minds. If you look at the stats the Pirates are quite good but they are at the bottom of the top 10 in the important stats. They are below average in the overall fielding stat. They do lead the league in stolen bases but unlike the Tampa Bay Rays they are not on top of almost every batting stat. The same can be said for the pitching. They are in good solid position when it comes to the most important pitching stats, but they are not leading the league. I will go into their stats in more detail at the 29-game report. The point is these are not stats of a team that is playing out of their minds.

Things are going the Pirates way. Wrong again media moron. Things have not gone the Pirates way, especially on the injury front. I thought losing Oneil Cruz would be the loss that sent this team on a downward spiral, and I think it did, but for only one game. They quickly shook it off and got right back on the winning track. Right now, the Pirates have 7 pitchers that are either about to come off the shelf or are on the shelf. Let’s count them: Max Kranick, J. T. Brubaker, Chase De Jong, Will Crowe, Mike Burrows, Rob Zastryzny, and Jarlin Garcia. All of these pitchers, most likely would have had big roles, or pitched on the major league team this year. Jarlin Garcia was going to be a major piece of the bullpen, and there is no timetable for his return. Some of this group will return in the next couple of weeks and it will be interesting to see what the Pirates do. The Pirates are showing a surprising amount of depth. There have been a lot of games this year where the Pirates had some really bad luck. Now this is going to happen during the course of a long season, but it was not like the Pirates got a huge number of breaks during this 26 game stretch.

Are Pirates going to keep playing close to .700 ball, of course not but who is? But is this team for real, absolutely. This team, in my opinion, was always going to be solid. I felt that they would be playing meaningful games in August and September. Like every team, I am sure they will go through a bad spell. In the long run, the Pirates are a contending team, with a good chance of making the playoffs, and may be the surprise story of the decade.

Pirates Morning Report: How Many Ways Can I Beat You

Final Score: Pirates 6 Dodgers 2

Why The Pirates Won: Mitch Keller went Nolan Ryan striking out 10 batters in 6 innings. After giving up 2 runs in the 1st he settled down and shutout the Dodgers through the next 5 on only 3 hits and no walks. Then the bullpen really went to work as DUJ, Jose Hernandez, David Bednar retired all 9 batters they faced. The Pirate batters showed two different ways to score 3 runs in an inning. In the bottom of the 1st, they scored 3 runs on 4 singles, one a bunt single with 2 strikes, a sacrifice fly and had a double steal. In the bottom of the 6th, they scored 3 runs on a walk then consecutive home runs by Connor Joe and Rodolfo Castro to stretch their lead to 6-2. Small ball one inning and long ball another inning to score 6 runs. The Pirates won the series and stretched their record to 18-8.

Key Moment Of The Game: The immediate break back in the 1st inning after the Dodgers had taken the lead 2-0 in the top of the 1st. The Pirates tied the score on 3 singles and a sacrifice fly and Andrew McCutchen had move all the way to third with 2 out. Then Jack Suwinski got a little check swing bloop single to score McCutchen to take the lead 3-2. That’s all the Pirate pitchers would need as they really shut down the Dodgers. It was nice to add on in the 6th inning with the long ball.

Next Game: Tonight, The Nationals, in Washington D. C. Rich Hill will be pitching for the Pirates when they start a 6 game road trip against the Nationals and then the Rays. Being on the road, a 3-3 record will be satisfactory. The Pirates are looking better that I even expected them to be thus far. The Oneil Cruz injury I thought would be a crushing loss but this team seems to have great depth. Just enjoy this while it lasts because there will be some ups and downs. I will be sad to see April end on Sunday. Go Bucs!

Golf Diary

The Round: Played Riverview Score: 80 Greens In Reg: 11 Putts: 36

The Good: Iron play improved greatly hitting 11 greens. Drove the ball well. Short game was good.

The Bad: The putting numbers were bad, and I missed 2 really short 4-6 feet birdie putts. If you don’t putt you don’t score was proven again. I continue to make some bad decisions out there trying to do too much, which cost me at least 4 strokes.

The Luck Of The Round: Had absolutely no luck on the greens. I did hit some bad putts especially those short birdie putts but I burned as many edges as I had all year. I am listing them damn it. 1st hole upper edge for par. 6th hole a 25 foot birdie putts that burned the high side and stop right behind the hole. 4 footer on 10 for birdie that skimmed the hole. 10 footer on 12 left edge for birdie. A 10 footer for par on 16 slight lip out. Birdie putt on 17 left edge. Finally a 12 footer for par on 18 burned the low edge. None could find the hole hence the 36 putts. Just a major frustrating day.

Next Round: Who knows? We are in for some rainy and then rainy and cold weather for the next 5 days. May not golf for a week.

Pirates Morning Report: Take That Dodger Blue

Final Score: Pirates 8 Dodgers 1

Why The Pirates Won: Roansy Contreras really shut the Dodgers down over the first 5 innings not allowing a hit. He skirted some trouble in the 6th to pitch a solid game, giving up no runs on just 2 hits, 2 walks, while striking out 5. The Pirate bats after a slow start got hot in the 5th inning and continued to pour it on. The bottom third of the order, Castro, Bae, and Delay went 8 for 11 with 6 RBI’s. Jason Delay went 3 for 3 knocking in 3 of those runs. The Pirates made no errors and had a nice clean bounce back win over the mighty Dodgers to improve to 17-8.

Key Moment Of The Game: The Pirates had just taken the lead 2-0 in the bottom of the 5th inning, when in the top of the 6th the Dodgers got 2 singles around one out. It looked like that Contreras may be giving the lead right back. He got Jason (I Am Batting Third In The Dodger Lineup Despite The Fact That I Can’t Hit) Heyward to hit a shallow fly ball to right for the second out. Contreras ended the threat and preserved the lead by getting James Outman to fly out to centerfield. The Pirates added a run in the 6th inning and then added a big 5 spot in the bottom of the 7th to put the game away.

Next Game: This afternoon, Dodgers in Pittsburgh. The rubber match will feature Mitch Keller squaring off against Julio Urias, who, just like the Dodgers has had his ups and downs this year. Even if the Pirates lose today the homestand will be a successful 5-2. The Pirates have blasted the Dodger pitching staff for 15 runs in 2 games. A 5-2 homestand is really nice but 6-1 would be oh so sweet.

Pirates Morning Report: Can’t Overcome Mistakes Every Game

Final Score: Pirates 7 Dodgers 8

Why The Pirates Lost: Simply just too many mistakes. Three errors to begin with one allowing 2 runs to score in the 1st inning on a little bloop double. The Pirate pitchers walked 4 and 3 of those scored. Oviedo went 5.1 innings and seemed to rely too much on his breaking ball but even so did not have any real good luck. Three runs scored on two bloop hits. This time Colin Holderman made it too interesting giving up the big 3 run blast by the .163 hitting Chris Taylor. The Pirate hitters had a big night scoring 7 runs on 12 hits and a walk, but it was not good enough and their record fell to 16-8.

Key Moments Of The Game: In the bottom of the 1st the Pirates had scored 1 run to cut the lead in half and had runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out. Connor Joe then hit a drive down the line in left, that David Peralta made a great diving catch, preventing the Pirates from scoring 2 more runs. The Pirates had the bases loaded with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th. They had loaded the bases on a single, walk and a hit batsman. Andrew McCutchen, who hit the big 3 run homer in bottom of the 4th to give the Pirates a 7-2 lead, worked the count out to 3-1. He swung on a high inside pitch that may or may not have been called a strike and popped out to the catcher to end the inning. All in all, it was not the Pirates night. It was one of their few pitching failure losses of the season. Hopefully, it will be a while before the next one.

The Next Game: Tonight, Dodgers in Pittsburgh. It will be up to Roansy Contreras to try and get the Pirates back on track. Tony Gonsolin will be making his first start of the season for the Dodgers. Whether the Pirates win or lose tonight I do not think is critical, but they need to play a much cleaner game. The team does seem to have a certain amount of resiliency, so a bounce back is likely.

Golf: How To Plan Your Golf Shots

If you are expecting to learn how to plan golf shots, then you will be disappointed, because it is obvious from my play yesterday, that I really don’t know how. However, I have a very good excuse, at least for now, why I am so bad at it. It’s like someone writing a book about how to be able to run a 4 minute mile. The vast majority of people, no matter how much they followed the instructions in the book, would never be able to run a mile in 4 minutes. Time would be the enemy. The same could be said about planning golf shots, especially shots that are approaching the green and around the green. Tee shots on par 4’s and 5’s do not have to be near as precise, but even those shots you have to have some idea of how you want to play the hole. If you watch professional golf on TV one of the complaints recently is slow play. Slow play in professional golf is not from standing over the ball too long or poor shots, but from how long it takes these players to figure out what type of shot they are going to hit and reading putts. If lower handicap players even took half as much time, they would be banned from the course on about the 6th hole. Many times you can hear these discussions on the telecast. They could be anywhere from about 160 yards in from the green and they are talking in single yards. The caddy might say something like hit it 147 yards. The player may come back with what about 149. They check the wind, the lie, and where the pin exactly is. Even with all this time spent and help from the caddy, they still seem to make some kind of miscalculation more often than not. Now, let’s look at my warped thinking from yesterday where I spent a maximum of 30 to 45 seconds trying to figure out what shot to hit in less than ideal conditions.

I am not going to go through all of the shots but what I consider the key ones that affected my thinking. I had just come off making a double bogey on the 1st hole because I hit my second shot about 5 to 10 yards left of where I was supposed to hit it and this resulted in my ball going about 30 yards down a steep embankment. I hit a decent drive on 2 and had about 120 yards to the middle of the green but dead uphill and I was in the rough with only a fair lie. The wind was helping a little but between the cold temperatures and how much uphill it was I decided to hit a 9 iron which I usually hit about 140. I expected not to make great contact. I hit the shot exactly how I thought I would and it looked like it barely got over the hill onto the green. But when I got to the green I was at least 30 to 40 feet over the green. This led me to be short on the next 7 approach shots. The first one was a bit of a mishit but the rest were hit solid but came up short because of wind or elevation or both. By the time I got to the 17th hole a par 3 of about 125 yards I took my 48 degree wedge and crushed it 50 feet past the pin. I hit a good drive on 18 but was on a downhill lie in the rough with a good lie and I was 95 yards to the middle of the green. I took my 58 degree wedge, played it back in my stance and expected it to come out lower than normal with some run on it. I hit it higher than expected and it squirted a little right and I missed the green. If I had made better decisions, I would have easily broken 80 and maybe came close to 75. Would I have done better if I took 4 to 5 minutes like they do on TV to decide what shot I am going to hit? I really don’t know or do I care. If I took that long to decide, I would probably be playing alone all the time. So, what’s a mother to do?

At this point, I really do not know. This was one of my better ball striking rounds of the early year. The score, however, sucked. If I had made the proper decision on 14 out of 18 holes I would have shot in the mid 70’s with no problem. This will be the main focus of my golf game for a while, making a better shot plan. I am not sure how I am going to do it but I know I have to do it in under 60 seconds. We will see how my scores go in the next few weeks.

Golf Diary

Round Played: Chippewa Score: 85 Greens In Reg: 5 Putts: 34

The Good: Believe it or not the ball striking in general. Even the short game was not horrendous.

The Bad: My club selection. I could not get the right distance. I hit many good shots but they wound up way short or way long. My shots could be classified as 2 long, 7 short, 1 good, and 6 where club selection was not a factor. I picked the right club 3 times. One shot was good and the other 2 were off by about 5 yards left or right but it put me in very bad positions. When I am saying long or short, I am talking about at least 40 ft. and sometimes more. This time my putting could not make this round respectable. I had 3 three putt greens, and never made a putt over 6 feet. I hit many good putts, they just did not find the hole. The weather was cold again.

The Luck Of The Round: I can’t say I had any real bad luck. It was just one of those days where the decision making process was bad and any little mistake seemed to be magnified. Still, I was encouraged by the overall ball striking of the round. See if I can build upon that.

Next Round: Thursday, Riverview. Hope it will be a little warmer.

Pirates Morning Report: Reds, May You Rest In Peace

Final Score: Pirates 2 Reds 0

Why The Pirates Won: Vince (Will I Be Able To Keep This Up) Velasquez pitched the strongest game of the year, going 7 innings, giving up no runs, just 2 hits, walking 2 in a row and striking out 10. I will gladly be wrong about Velasquez, if he can keep this up for the remainder of the season. The A team of Holderman and Bednar finished up the shutout. Holderman has been extremely effective as the set up man, but he always makes it interesting. The Pirates were only able to muster 2 runs on 6 hits, and 1 walk. Suwinski got a big 2 out double in the bottom of the 8th to drive in a nice insurance run. The bottom of the 8th also featured a stolen base by Carlos Santana that helped make scoring the 2nd run very easy. I wrote the Pirates needed to bury the Reds and they did with great pitching that literally got better as the series went on. The Reds scored 3, 2, 1, and finally 0 runs to end the series. The 4 game sweep enabled the Pirates to improve to 16-7, and don’t look now, but are in first place.

The Key Moment Of The Game: After getting the first 7 batters out, all of a sudden it seemed like Velasquez could not find the plate and he walked 2 batters in a row. There was a conference on the mound, and it seemed to get Velasquez back on track and he never looked back. This was the first time that Velasquez has had back to back quality starts since 2018. It was a beautiful thing.

Next Game: Tomorrow night, Dodgers in Pittsburgh. Johan Oviedo will open against the Dodgers going against Noah Syndergaard. With the sweep of the Reds, the Pirates need to win only 1 of the next 3 to make this a successful home stand. Of course, I will take 2 out of 3 or another Pirate sweep. This should be one great series.

Golf Diary:

The Round: Played Stoughton Acres in Butler Pa. Score: 80 Greens In Reg: 5 Putts: 30

The Good: Putting kept the round from being embarrassing. I did have one 3 putt but made lots of par saves and a nice 20 foot birdie putt. Drove the ball well but was not consistent for the day.

The Bad: Iron play hitting only 5 greens and the short game was brutal. Poor thinking on some holes cost me strokes also. It was cold as I expected, but still hard on these old bones.

The Luck Of The Round: Made one really long putt of about 40 feet that I thought I pulled. It was on the same hole that my drive just skimmed a tree on the right side but it threw the ball further right behind the tree. The breaks evened up on one hole. Did hit a tree on another hole that kept me from going into the lake and made a nice twenty footer to save par from the fringe. On the whole the good luck was ahead of the bad.

Next Round: Tomorrow, Chippewa, in Bentleyville. Another cold one but maybe a little more sun that might help. I just love spring.

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