The trouble with the bullpen

If you want to look at the first two games of this Pirates/Cardinals series with absolutely zero emotion and only with cold logic, the conclusion that you would probably draw is this: the Pirates have continued to play well this week, but a combination of bad luck and a thin bullpen has cost them two […]


Game 90: Cardinals 5 Pirates 4

The Cardinals have two walkoff home runs off of Justin Wilson and Ernesto Frieri in a series where Mark Melancon has thrown zero pitches. We sure have evolved an efficient model of bullpen usage here in the era of statistics and sabermetrics. Image credit: CPG Grey, Flickr

Super Balls


Four times this year, the Pirates have won the first game of a series against a division foe, only to drop the remaining two or three games remaining in the series. Since most of those series happened when the Pirates were struggling, the first win was encouraging and the subsequent losses were deflating.  The Pirates […]


Gerrit Cole goes back on the disabled list with strained lat

Clint Hurdle was evasive before last night’s game about Gerrit Cole’s status on Wednesday, and now we know why: Cole’s bullpen session didn’t go well and he’s headed back to the disabled list with his strained lat. There’s still not a whole lot else to go on here: the comments from both Hurdle and Cole […]

No running

Game 89: Cardinals 2 Pirates 0

In seven innings tonight, Charlie Morton allowed one hit (a first inning double through the shift by Matt Adams) and two walks. He only faced three hitters in the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings. He only threw 84 pitches. He gave up zero runs. In seven innings tonight, Adam Wainwright allowed seven hits and […]

The Gathering Storm (Judgment Day)

Judgment Week

The Pirates are 12-5 against the NL East. The Pirates are 9-4 against the NL West. The Pirates are 6-7 against the American League. The Pirates are 20-25 against the NL Central. The Pirates have only lost two series since the beginning of June; those two series were against NL Central teams. In short: the […]


Game 88: Pirates 6 Phillies 2

On June 19th, Jason Grilli (predictably) blew a save against the Reds, but the Pirates managed to come back and score a run in the 12th inning to scrape out a 4-3 win and salvage a game from the Reds. That brought the Bucs’ record to 35-37, fourth in the NL Central and 8 1/2 […]

Batmand and Robin cupcake

Batman and Robin

A few years ago, DC killed Batman. I mean, they didn’t really kill him; they shot him with a time-bullet or something and sent him hurtling back in spacetime so that he’d face to fight his way back to the present wearing a ridiculous pilgrim costume or whatever. The end result, though, was that Bruce […]


Some catching up on Saturday

Even with the ugly Friday night loss to the Diamondbacks, the Pirates are one win away from hitting the 11-win mark in this 16-game stretch against bad teams after yesterday afternoon’s win against the Phillies. That may come with a price, as Gerrit Cole was removed from yesterday’s start with lat soreness after five excellent […]

a broom

The value of a sweep

In the past week or so, looking at the standings has given me some mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m happy to see the Pirates above .500, in the wild card mix, and still on the periphery of the NL Central race. They were so bad in April and parts of May that being […]

Game 84: Pirates 5 Diamondbacks 1

A lot of things happened in the last six innings of this game, but even now, a half an hour after the game eneded, all I can think about is Gregory Polanco’s home run. Before I can go any further, please watch it for yourself if you haven’t seen it yet.

I’m not sure exactly what Chase Anderson was trying to accomplish with that 3-1 pitch, but since it doesn’t look like he missed Miguel Montero’s target by that much, my guess is that it was a, “Put it in a place that Polanco can’t hit it to either draw a swing and a miss or a walk, then face the righty Marte with a force intact to end the inning” sort of pitch. If that’s what he was trying to do, it was a pretty good pitch; the pitch had some drop on it and ended down around Polanco’s shins and on the inside half of the plate. I think if you could’ve paused time and asked Anderson what he thought was about to happen when the ball was halfway between home and the plate, he would’ve guessed soft contact or a walk.

I don’t know if anyone would’ve guessed that Polanco would be able to both drop his bat head and turn on the pitch enough to hit a line drive over the right-center part of the Clemente Wall, but that’s exactly what happened. Given that the pitch was an 81-mph changeup, the combination of swing mechanics and physical gifts required to hit that ball over the fence like that is kind of staggering. Once you get over the accomplishment of the swing itself and remember that it came from a 22-year old whose power is still a work in progress, and yeah, that home run is the whole Gregory Polanco Hype Machine bottled up in one neat highlight.

Of course, other things happened in this game, too. Charlie Morton wasn’t quite as sharp as he was against the Rays, but most of the damage against him came from his own lack of control (three walks and five hits in six innings) and he was able to keep the Diamondbacks in check for six innings. Polanco also had a double in the first (he took third on a Gerardo Parra error) and scored on a Starling Marte groundout, while the Pirates added two runs in the ninth thanks in part to the Diamondbacks playing defense like a slow-pitch softball team.

With the win, the Pirates are now 44-40. Earlier losses by the Brewers and Reds puts the Bucs ahead of Cincinnati by a half game and within six of the Brewers, which is the closest they’ve been since May 26th. They’re even with the Cardinals for now, though the Cardinals are up by two in the fourth inning against the Giants as I type this. When the Pirates set out on this stretch of baseball against the Cubs, Rays, Mets, Diamondbacks, and Phillies, I said I thought they needed to go 11-5 to get themselves really back into the playoff conversation. They’re currently 9-3 with four games left. Hopefully I set my sights a little bit low.

Image: Phillip Roberts, Flickr

A bunch of Chucks

Charlie Morton tries to put it all together against the Diamondbacks

If you remember way back to the Nate McLouth trade, the Pirates weren’t initially interested in Charlie Morton because they thought he’d be one of the best ground-ball-inducing pitchers in the Major Leagues. Initially, he looked like he had the sort of stuff that could pile up strikeouts, and it was only after his disastrous […]