We’re only a week into the season, but I’m running out of ways to say, “The Pirates stink at hitting.” Let’s try this one on for size: In the first two innings tonight, Chris Capuano struck out five hitters and four of them went down looking. Capuano’s not a bad pitcher — most of us in the Pirate bloggerverse had him on the radar as a potential signing for the Bucs this winter — but he’s not Clayton Kershaw.
Clint Hurdle pulled out all of the stops with his lineup tonight to try and get the offense jump-started. He sat Alex Presley and Garrett Jones and Neil Walker against the lefty Capuano, he played the seemingly heating up Pedro Alvarez against a lefty for the first time all year. He got Josh Harrison and Yamaico Navarro and Casey McGehee, who’ve all looked decent at the plate in limited roles, all into the starting lineup. That lineup gave him a long home run by Mike McKenry and Andrew McCutchen on base four times. The rest of the team managed to turn that into one run for ‘Cutch. Hurdle kept pulling strings all night, using Jones and Matt Hague both to pinch hit with the bases loaded in the sixth, using Walker to hit for Harrison late in the game. He even made the weird decision at the end of the game to have McLouth bat for McKenry, despite McKenry having a good game at the plate, then immediately having Rod Barajas pinch-hit for Jason Grilli. The weird sequencing left Barajas as the last option on the bench and the catcher, meaning that if he had singled or drawn a walk, the Pirates would’ve been forced to try and score him from first base with two outs to tie the game. Of course, he didn’t get on, so it was a moot point.
In the end, the Pirates struck out nine more times tonight and only drew two walks. They had eight hits, but if you take McCutchen and McKenry out of the equation, they had five hits, no walks, and no runs. Two of those five remaining hits came from Casey McGehee. Scoring runs is a problem right now.
On the flip side, Jeff Karstens settled down nicely after a rough first inning (he certainly would’ve had another inning or two in him if the bases-loaded situation hadn’t manifsted in the top of the sixth). Chris Resop and Jason Grilli were also excellent in keeping the Dodgers off of the board after Karstens’ night got cut short. Certainly, the pitching was good enough to win a game or two in this series in LA. Unfortunately, the offense kept it from happening.