Since the Pirates acquired Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros for three prospects, the left-hander hasn’t pitched well. After allowing five earned runs to Los Angeles in the Pirates third straight loss and their sixth of their last seven games, Rodriguez hasn’t posted numbers as expected.
Since the trade, Rodriguez has a 5.58 ERA (15 ER, 24.2IP) over four starts after getting his third loss as a Pirate on Wednesday.
Rodriguez gave up his first run in the first inning, although none of the balls were squared up hard. The first batter of the game reached on an infield single. The wild throw from Josh Harrison at third base allowed Shane Victorino to advance to third. Mark Ellis followed with a single to put runners on the corners.
Matt Kemp hit a broken bat grounder to Neil Walker, who fielded the ball, then ran to second base for the force out. After Ellis slid into second, Walker threw the ball to first, which was ruled safe, but fell on his wrist. Victorino scored on the play, but Walker was rolling on the ground in pain holding his hand. Walker was removed from the game with a dislocated right pinky. Rodriguez gave up a fielder’s choice and a single, but was able to escape the inning with just the one run scoring.
“I threw a lot of good pitches and they hit the ball like a softball. Base hit, base hit,” Rodriguez said. “I had runners on second and third and I threw a very good pitch to Hanley and he hit the ball to right field. Bad luck for me.”
A second run scored off Rodriguez in the third. After tossing a scoreless second, Rodriguez ran into trouble again in the frame. Ellis led off the inning with a base hit, and after getting a fly out, a walk and a second single to right loaded the bases. Juan Rivera drove in the go ahead run with a sac fly.
“I tried to put the ball where I would,” Rodriguez said. “I threw good pitches but they hit them soft. Base hit, base hit.”
Rodriguez gave up three more runs in the fourth. Back-to-back one out singles started the rough inning for the left-hander. After getting a ground out to push both runners into scoring position, Matt Kemp ripped a double to right field to drive in a pair. Hanley Ramirez followed with the second straight extra base hit by lining a two bagger down the left field line to drive in the third.
“That was some what of a [turning point] of the game,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “He got to a count that he wanted to get to on him. We had a pitch that we wanted to throw but we just missed our location.”
Overall, Rodriguez allowed five runs on 10 hits over 5.2 innings. It marked the first time since being acquired that he didn’t pitch at least six innings. He walked one and struck out one while throwing 106 pitches, 74 strikes.
“I think tonight Wandy’s line showed just some of that — just inconsistent location,” Hurdle said. “Fastballs were up more than they have been in the past. The curveball didn’t have the bite at times so it’s come and go. There were an assortment of hits, but the overall command was what probably was challenging for him tonight.”
Do the Pirates Need to Look Elsewhere for Help?
With the current struggles from the club, there’s been questions raised to should the Pirates look outside the organization or to the minors to help? The starting staff hasn’t put together a quality start since the 8th of August, which has caused the bullpen to over work and ultimately struggle as well.
Can the Pirates break out of the slump with the personnel here?
“The core group of men here have gone out on that field and played extremely well for the bulk of the season,” Hurdle said. “If somebody says, ‘Here’s where you’re going to be on August 15.’ You say, ‘This ain’t too bad. We can work with this.’ But then you add in what’s going on at the time, the momentum, and then you think, whoa, we’ve got to find a way. We’ve got the people here.”
Hurdle said he recently talked to some of the players and correlated to what they are going through with ‘you are what you eat.’
“What are you putting in your mind coming into the clubhouse before you take the field?” Hurdle said. “Are you putting in good information? Are you putting in doubt? Those kind of things. I just took some time with some individual areas. We are what we eat. What we think about when we walk in. Everything starts with a thought from the day you walk in.”
“As quickly as these things get moved in the wrong direction, they can be moved back into the right direction. It’s got to be a concentrated effort. It’s got to be complete focus from pitch one from the last pitch of the game regardless what happens during that process. That’s the way you dig yourself out of the hole.”
Pirates Players Held Players Only Meeting Before Game
With the recent struggles that the team is going through — having lost five of their last six and six of their last eight — the players decided to take the matters into their own hands and held a players only meeting on Wednesday.
“I think it’s all part of players taking ownership of what they do and how they do it,” Hurdle said. “I’ve been a player and been on the other end of it…I think it’s all a part of the growing up process.”
“Who’s to stay how many times they’ve taken it? Or when they’ve taken it? I think they’re appropriate with their feelings, appropriate with their timing. They have been throughout the season. I trust them.”
The team held the closed-door meeting prior to taking batting practice at PNC Park to discuss their recent slide. The meeting was called from veteran A.J. Burnett.
“I think they say what they need to say,” Hurdle said of the meetings. “There’s always a couple individuals who try and take the initiative to get it moving in that direction and try to get feelings out, thoughts, observations, comments. More or less it’s a self-cleaning, honest evaluation from the players. The players can be helpful at times. I think it’s always, at least the group I’ve had here, have always come out in a much better place.”
Neil Walker was diagnosed with a dislocated right pinky. Here’s an update on his status.
Juan Cruz was checked out by trainers during his inning of relief after stumbling on the mound after a pitch. Hurdle said after the game that Cruz was dizzy and felt light-headed for a second. It was not related to his shoulder injury that forced him on the disabled list earlier this month.
Travis Snider was out of the starting lineup today against the Dodgers, but said before the game that he felt fine. Snider hit a pinch-hit double and scored after Clint Barmes drove him in with a RBI single. The outfielder ran gingerly around the bases to not re aggravate the right hamstring injury that’s lingered him for several games.
The Cincinnati Reds won 6-1 against the New York Mets. The Reds now have a seven game lead in the NL Central — their largest margin so far this season.
NL Wild Card
The Atlanta Braves beat the San Diego Padres 6-1. They are four games ahead of the Pirates for the top Wild Card spot.
The San Francisco Giants lost to the Washington Nationals 6-4. The Giants are now a game back of the Dodgers for first place in the NL West, and are half a game behind the Pirates for the second wild card spot.
The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-2. The Cardinals are now tied with the Pirates for the second wild card spot.
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