Let’s get right to the stat of the day for the 2013 Pirates:
93 runs scored in first five innings (0.34 per inning)
103 runs scored from the 6th-9th inning on (0.49 per inning)
Clint Hurdle called Neil Walker the “hottest hitter on the club.” (Photo Credit: David Hague)
I don’t know whether this difference shows a team that makes good offensive adjustments as the game goes on or if it’s just random variance. Either way, the difference is a big reason for the Pirates’ 15 comeback wins (3rd in MLB behind Oakland and Atlanta).
Wednesday night’s 5-3 comeback victory was a prime example, as Neil Walker was the only Pirates player who reached base on Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez before the Bucs scored four runs in the 7th inning off him.
“He hadn’t left anything up yet, let’s just keep battling, and they did,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday. “It’s that World Cup soccer game. It’s overtime hockey. All you’re doing is working extremely hard and you’re not seeing any benefits from it. But you wait for an opening.”
Most of the conversations about in-game adjustments run through hitting coach Jay Bell. Players can also review video with new assistant hitting coach Jeff Branson, whom Hurdle called “a wonderful addition” to the Pirates’ staff.
“Sometimes it’s good to actually walk away from the dugout,” Hurdle said, “And see what the guy’s throwing on a video screen and just kind of go ‘Wow. It felt nasty at the plate. It really is.’”
Pedro Not in Clubhouse
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez is home resting after having two wisdom teeth removed Thursday.
“We sent him home,” Hurdle said. “If he feels better, he’ll come back.”
If you were wondering, and I know you were not, Hurdle still has his wisdom teeth.
OF Jose Tabata (oblique strain) resumed physical activity Wednesday. Hurdle said he also had a root canal operation. The Pirates ought to get some 2-for-1 deals at the dentist.
RHP James McDonald (right shoulder) will pitch Saturday in Portland, Maine with the Double-A Altoona Curve, expected to throw five innings or 80 pitches. In his last start, McDonald walked four batters and did not get out of the 1st inning.
Morris Escapes Lion’s Den
Rookie reliever Bryan Morris faced a difficult task Wednesday night: keep the Pirates within two runs in the 7th inning against All-Stars Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
“Obviously [they] are three of the better hitters in baseball,” Morris said. “Whoever I’m facing, my job is to get them out.”
Morris hit Hunter with a 1-2 fastball, but then drew ground balls from Cabrera and Fielder for a double play and the third out. The Pirates followed it up with their four-run offensive inning.
On Thursday starter Jeff Locke, who has pitched 14 straight scoreless innings: “The transformation is special… Locke’s showing up going for six straight [quality starts] tonight. I didn’t have that going in. Did you? Coming out of Spring Training?”
On if he puts more weight on this weekend’s Reds series: “No, I don’t. I’m not wired that way… I need to be the guy they can depend upon every day to show up the same way every day. If I show up with a heightened sense of awareness, that might electrocute some in a good way, that might electrocute some in a bad way. Every game has value to me.”
On his involvement with the Pirates’ draft: “I’ve just asked questions, basically, and every once in a while I’ll get asked to look at some tape and give some feedback if it’s a position player.”
Detroit Tigers (29-21, 1st place in AL Central)
2B Omar Infante (.296 batting average)
RF Andy Dirks (.250)
3B Miguel Cabrera (.368, 15 home runs)
1B Prince Fielder (.272, 9 HR)
SS Jhonny Peralta (.337)
LF Matt Tuiasosopo (.320)
C Brayan Pena (.314)
CF Avisail Garcia (.231)
RHP Doug Fister (5-2, 3.65 ERA)
Pittsburgh Pirates (33-20, Tied for 2nd place in NL Central)
LF Starling Marte (.296)
2B Neil Walker (.266)
CF Andrew McCutchen (.289, 7 HR)
1B Garrett Jones (.270)
C Russell Martin (.250, 6 HR)
RF Travis Snider (.263)
3B Brandon Inge (.224)
SS Jordy Mercer (.291)
LHP Jeff Locke (5-1, 2.45 ERA)