Found May 05, 2013 on
Saturday was an odd day at PNC Park. For starters, the game was on national television (something that doesn’t happen often to the Pirates). This also happened.
Then the great bullpen debate of 2013 got off an running, and well, it did not end well for the Pirates.
Starling Marte did a very Starling Marte thing and hit a two-run home run in the third inning to put the Pirates ahead 2-1, and then with the score tied in the fifth inning Clint Barmes did a very not-so Clint Barmes thing and hit a two-run home run of his own. Pittsburgh allowed Washington to tie the game again in the sixth but could not take the lead for a third time.
Tony Watson hit Ryan Zimmerman with a pitch, gave up a single to Adam LaRoche and after each of them advanced on a double steal Tyler Moore hit a sacrifice fly to score Zimmerman in the top of the ninth inning. The Pirates could not answer and Washington evened the three-game series with a 5-4 win.
The decision to not use either of the best relief pitchers on the team — Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli — was one Hurdle was asked about after the game. He was blunt in his response.
So there’s that.
Look, taking issue with the way Clint Hurdle handles the bullpen is not a new concept. Does it make sense to leave your best arms on the bench in a tight game? In an isolated situation, perhaps. But for Hurdle to come out and essentially say that Grilli and Melancon would only be used in save and hold situations seems shortsighted.
Saves and holds are nice statistics in the sense that if you get a lot of them you can say, “Look at all those saves/holds I got.” But to limit yourself and what you can do in that way does not make sense (to me). If it had worked on Saturday nobody would be talking about this, and if the Pirates win on Sunday I imagine the conversation will shift.
So what else happened in this game? There were, of course, the home runs by Marte and Barmes (his first of the season) and Jeff Locke regressed from his previous two outings, but was not bad either. He lasted five innings and allowed four runs (three earned) with three walks and two strikeouts. Where Locke went wrong was issuing free bases to the Nationals.
Roger Berdadina was hit by a pitch in the third inning and later scored while in the sixth inning Locke walked Ryan Zimmerman who would come around to score (along with Bryce Harper) on a Wilson Ramos single later in the inning off Justin Wilson.
“The hit batter came on a curveball. I just didn’t finish it all the way,” Locke said. “It wasn’t like I was trying to come in with a fastball and missed location or anything like that. Everything felt good today I just need to be a little more efficient early in the count.”
Hurdle said he thought Locke was “in and out of his delivery” and yanked Locke before he could record an out in the sixth.
“I thought we’d be best served to pinch off that inning and maintain a lead and not try to mess with the other side of their bullpen. I thought with Wilson and the RPMs he could bring that was our best best to get out of that inning.”
It was a strange game and my head sort of hurts from thinking about it too much. I’ll be back at PNC Park bright and early Sunday morning for the series finale. Wandy Rodriguez will start for the Pirates with Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 5.34 ERA) taking the mound for the Nationals.
BEST OF MAXIM
The Pirates made two roster swaps before Friday’s game, adding Jose Contreras and Jordy Mercer to the team. To make room, Neil Walker was moved to the DL and Jared Hughes was optioned to AAA.
Contreras was signed in the offseason and is a 41 year old reliever from Cuba. I discussed his addition in February here and he’s been pitching well in his minor league rehab outings....
Couldn't watch yesterday's game due to blackout, so I'm not going to write anything up. Looked ugly. Instead, let's talk about something else.
When the Pirates signed Brandon Inge this winter, the idea was that he'd essentially take Josh Harrison's role on the club; pinch-hitter, utility infielder, maybe spell Pedro Alvarez against tough lefties, etc...
Jordy Mercer will start at second base again today when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Washington Nationals. Mercer, as many of you probably know by now, was called up Friday afternoon when Neil Walker was placed on the disabled list and hit what proved to be the game-winning home run in the fifth inning of the Pirates 3-1 win.
Jordy Mercer will start at second base for the Pirates...
Jason Grilli has been named MLB’s Delivery Man of the Month for the month of April. Photo credit: David Hague
Remember when there was talk that Jason Grilli couldn’t be a closer? Today he was named MLB’s Delivery Man of the Month for the month of April. The award recognizes the best reliever each month. Grilli had an 0.82 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings of work in April...
There is no reason why Mark Melancon should be handcuffed to the eighth inning. Photo by: David Hague
After today’s game, Clint Hurdle announced that he would only be using Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon when the team is ahead. Hurdle didn’t use either reliever in the ninth inning, instead turning to Tony Watson for a second inning in a game that was tied 4-4. Watson gave up...
Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level,...
The moments that turned out to be the vital ones for the Pirates in Friday’s 3-1 win against the Washington Nationals pretty much summed up Pittsburgh’s season in a nutshell.
Mark Melancon got Bryce Harper to strike out swining to end the eighth inning on Friday. Photo by: David Hague
With Neil Walker officially being placed on the disabled list, the team had to call Jordy Mercer...
Back on Sunday, one Pittsburgh Pirates fan had the unfortunate honor of getting hit by a home run ball while he was trying to run away from it.
The moment happened in the top of the 8th inning as Washington Nationals outfielder Tyler Moore hit a three-run shot off of Pirates pitcher Bryan Morris into the left field seats at PNC Park.
Watch as the replay shows the fan getting...
The Pirates opened this weekend’s series with a very strong performance as their pitching led them past the Nats on Friday night.
A.J. Burnett was excellent – this was his second-best outing of the year (behind the near no-hitter vs. St. Louis). The NL’s strikeout leader punched out nine Nats and worked efficiently, allowing just five hits and one walk. That allowed him to...
The Bucs dropped the series to the Nats on Sunday, falling in frustrating fashion for the second day in a row. They had a golden opportunity to break the game open early and missed it, and things went downhill from there.
The game could not have started any better for the Pirates, and that’s not hyperbole. Wandy Rodriguez tossed 1-2-3 first and Bryce Harper was ejected after arguing...
Three videos today from the after the Nationals’ 5-4 win against the Pirates at PNC Park.
Clint Hurdle’s interview is broken up into two parts and I was even able to snag some of Stephen Strasburg’s clubhouse interview. I’ll have a recap of today’s game up this evening but for now enjoy the videos.
Two pitchers who have been nearly unhittable this year, will take the mound tonight. Andy Oliver for Indianapolis and Tyler Glasnow for West Virginia have both had control problems at times, but each of them has been as good as anyone else in the organization when they are throwing strikes. For a look at the possible starters over the next few weeks, please check out our Probable...
Barrett Barnes has been placed on the DL.
Catching up on some minor league moves:
**The West Virginia Power have placed Barrett Barnes on the 7-day disabled list. As Tom Bragg reported on Wednesday, Barnes had a hamstring injury. The DL placement was retroactive May 2nd.
**After Jordy Mercer was promoted to the majors, Jeff Larish was added to the Indianapolis roster.
Before previewing today's game, let's talk about yesterday's loss briefly. It was frustrating to watch in just about every way possible. On one hand, the Pirates walked six hitters, hit three batters, gave the Nationals three runs on bad defensive plays by the two guys (Barmes and Marte) that are supposed to anchor the defense, and totally spaced on the existence of baserunners...