Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/12/14
Pedro Alvarez remains 5th in the NL in home runs. (Photo Credit: David Hague) Clint Hurdle is fond of saying that Pedro Alvarez can change the game with one swing of the bat, and I am fond of quoting Clint Hurdle saying that Pedro Alvarez can change the game with one swing of the bat. In the Pirates’ 5-3 win Thursday over the Cincinnati Reds, Alvarez changed the game three different times. Let’s break out those fancy bullet points: 3rd Inning: Alvarez steps in to face Homer Bailey with two runners on and two outs. When he faced the same situation in the first inning, he whiffed on two Bailey fastballs to end the frame. This time, he lines a fastball above the belt into right field to score Andrew McCutchen and tie the score 1-1. 6th Inning: With the Pirates trailing 2-1, Alvarez comes up to lead off. The Bucs scored only one run in two earlier games this series, so there became a sinking feeling Bailey and the Cincinnati bullpen would ice away a series victory. Instead, Alvarez ties the game again by turning on an inside fastball and depositing it eight rows deep into the right-field seats for Home Run No. 16. All tied up again. 7th Inning: Two good hits deserve another. Once again Alvarez arrives with two outs, but this time the bases are loaded and rubber-armed lefty Tony Cingrani is looking to keep the game tied. Instead, Alvarez ropes a fastball thrown over the heart of the plate, sending it into the right-field corner to clear the bases and put the Pirates up for good. Greg Brown called Alvarez “Raging Bull!” and that’s pretty much dead-on. Prior to Thursday’s game, the Pirates went just 4-for-25 with runners in scoring position (a scoring change gave Russell Martin a hit and RBI for ricocheting a comebacker off Arroyo after it was originally an error). The issue continued in the final game of the series, as every Pittsburgh player not named Pedro Alvarez went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Pedro Alvarez’s directive is quite simple: drive in those nice gentlemen that find themselves standing on or near bases. He now appears to be locked into the No. 6 spot in the lineup behind Jones/Sanchez and Walker/Martin, giving him plenty of chances to finish off Pirates’ runs with his bat. It can be very draining to watch Alvarez swing, come up empty and strike out one out of every three times he comes to bat. But when El Toro is feeling it, you have to pay attention to every plate appearance because pretty much any outcome can happen. Other important takeaways from Thursday: Starling Marte is not dominating as in April, but he is plugging away as a steady leadoff man. (Photo Credit: David Hague) - Starling Marte is settling into a nice groove at the plate with two more hits Thursday. His .347 on-base percentage this season is right about league average for leadoff hitters this year, which is just about all you can ask of Marte in his first full season at the top of the order. - Homer Bailey hit Andrew McCutchen (likely unintentional) in the butt during the first inning, the 19th hit-by-pitch between the Reds and Pirates this season. - Round of applause for Brandon Cumpton. His only earned run allowed Thursday was a home run given up to Jay Bruce, which is something that Jason Grilli does, so Cumpton should not feel too bad. Cumpton allowed five hits in five innings, struck out Xavier Paul twice and Brandon Phillips once, and also got seven groundouts. If Cumpton is heading back to Indianapolis, since the Pirates only need four starters over the next week, he just completed a fine audition to return later in the season. - Tony Watson got the final six outs of the game to pick up the save. Somehow Watson’s reputation among Pirates fans has gone from “serviceable reliever” to “one of the worst in the bullpen,” which seems odd to me. He is probably a below-average reliever as those folks come, but he gets decent results against both lefties and righties. Really, he is the same pitcher he has always been: a decent flyball pitcher that will get some strikeouts too. Watson’s walk totals are down this year, which is an improvement, and he will continue to be a useful middle reliever if nothing more. - At the start of the day, there was a 76% chance the NL Wild Card game would include at least one NL Central team and a one-in-three chance the matchup would be Pirates vs. Reds. Yes, we are still more than three months away from the postseason, but it is intriguing that the league is already stratifying into levels on June 21 that make it a pretty good possibility the Wild Card Coin Flip Game will be between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Robert Kraft: Richard Sherman is a 'marketing whiz'

Rob Gronkowski's party bus headed to Super Bowl

Matt Barnes not happy with NBA for $25,000 fine

Brandon Browner: 'No hard feelings' with Sherman, Thomas

Gronk reads erotica, sings Katy Perry at SB Media Day


Governor donates $10K to UNM hoops star’s cancer charity

U.S. Soccer: Hope Solo needs to do 'number of things' to return

K.J. Wright: Targeting injured players 'unacceptable'

Five reasons the Patriots will win the Super Bowl

Five reasons the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl

Bill Simmons fires a shot at ESPN colleague Ray Lewis

James Shields need to adjust his contract expectations

Kurt Warner wonders about Patriots cheating in Super Bowl

4-star QB recruit decommits from Michigan

Top storylines for Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Pacquiao, Mayweather meet at halftime of Heat game

One of Tom Brady's ‘treats’ is avocado ice cream

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Tiger on wearing mask: ‘Not a lot of brown dudes at ski races’

Putting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ pieces together

Brodeur to retire immediately and join Blues front office

Michael Bennett talks about sex superstition, calls reporter gay

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top storylines for Super Bowl XLIX

Barnes unhappy with NBA over fine

Does MLB need more offense in the modern game?

Re-ranking the Top 25: exposing the biggest flaws

Putting the Cavs’ pieces together

Super Bowl XLIX: Key people to know

Ranking all 48 Super Bowls

Bill Simmons fires a shot at Ray Lewis

NFL pushing CFP to change schedule

Can Yanks not pay A-Rod his bonuses?

Petition started to remove Pats from SB

On John Wall's adidas J Wall 1 NYC All-Star Edition

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.