Found June 18, 2013 on
After Monday’s game — which saw Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman throw near Neil Walker’s head in the ninth inning — many Pirates fans were looking for retaliation. They got just that in the first inning when Charlie Morton hit Shin-Soo Choo right below the knee with his first pitch of the game. That led to a warning from the home plate umpire, and drew the ire of Mat Latos in the Reds’ dugout, but the Reds didn’t retaliate.
Perhaps the better retaliation for the Pirates came in the top half of the first inning when they put up three runs on Latos. Starling Marte led off the game with a triple, stretching the play on an ill-advised run from second as the relay was coming in. Brandon Phillips threw a two hop relay to third, giving Marte enough time to slide in safely. He scored the first run when Russell Martin reached on an infield single to shortstop as Joey Votto was unable to scoop the low throw. Martin avoided another out stealing second as he made some Matrix style moves to avoid the tag. With the bases loaded, Pedro Alvarez took an 0-2 fastball to the opposite field to bring in two more runs.
The Pirates added one more run in the seventh inning off Curtis Partch. After that first inning they struggled against Latos, who finished with nine strikeouts in five innings. Strikeouts were the theme of the night for the offense, as the Reds pitchers combined to strike out 17 batters. The Pirates managed ten of their own to counter that, and pull off the 4-0 victory for the best retaliation you could ask for.
Charlie Morton pitched 5.1 shutout innings tonight for the Pirates.
Morton Excellent, But Why the Early Hook?
Charlie Morton was excellent tonight, going 5.1 shutout innings and allowing just three hits. More importantly he didn’t walk anyone, showing better control than he has in the past. Morton’s curve and sinker both looked great tonight, with the sinker mostly sitting 92-94 MPH and leading to a 7:2 GO/AO ratio.
One questionable call came in the sixth inning when Morton was pulled after throwing only 61 pitches. With one out, Morton struck out Zack Cozart, but the ball got past Russell Martin, putting a runner on. Clint Hurdle went to Tony Watson to face Joey Votto, despite the fact that Morton was pitching well and only had 61 pitches on the night. Watson gave up a double to Votto, putting runners on second and third with one out. He got out of the jam with a key strikeout against Brandon Phillips, and a groundout back to the mound against Jay Bruce.
A lot of people disagreed with Morton being a lock for the rotation. As it worked out, the Pirates didn’t have any other choice when it came time for him to be added to the roster. However, he’s back to his old “electric stuff” in the last two starts. The sinker and curve — his two best pitches, and two pitches he couldn’t throw last year due to his injury — have both been extremely effective. He is definitely showing that he belongs in the rotation, and throughout his rehab starts and his first two outings in the majors he has looked more like the successful 2011 version rather than the injured 2012 version.
Melancon and Grilli’s Usage
If you want to make a game shorter this year, just go to Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli for the final two innings. That said, it was a bit questionable to go to those two in the eighth and ninth innings of a 4-0 game, especially when so many concerns have been brought up about both pitchers being used too much this year.
Melancon pitched three games in a row over the weekend, then had Monday off, so it’s not like he needed the work. Grilli pitched on Friday and Sunday, and also didn’t really need the work. It’s good that those two guys shut down the game, and with the Pirates and Reds projected to battle it out in the Wild Card matchup in the early projections, any win against Cincinnati is good. But if you’re looking to reduce the amount of innings and work these two are getting, then tonight would have been the perfect night to go to someone like Vin Mazzaro for an inning or two. Hopefully this doesn’t cost the Pirates when they need these two later in the week for a game that is closer than tonight’s four run lead.
**It’s good to see Starling Marte starting to heat up again. He went 2-for-5 tonight, and in his last seven games he is 10-for-31 (.323). Marte had been in a slump throughout the month of May, after being a huge spark for the Pirates offense in the month of April.
**It’s also good to see the Pirates win a game where they clearly weren’t playing their best. The score was 4-0, but the offense really only capitalized on that first inning, then struggled after Latos settled down. They’ve been winning a lot of games with pitching, and with the offense scoring just enough runs to take the lead. Eventually they’re going to need the offense to step up on a more consistent basis. That’s why it’s good to see Marte hitting lately. It’s also good that Pedro Alvarez is batting .286 with three homers over his last ten games. And outside of his 0-for-4 with two strikeouts tonight, Andrew McCutchen seems to be heating up with a .378 average in his last ten games.
**Down in the minors, Jeanmar Gomez was scheduled to make a rehab start today, but Indianapolis was rained out. That will delay any challengers to Morton’s rotation spot, although Brandon Cumpton will be at risk before Morton’s spot is discussed. And like I said above, if Morton keeps pitching the way he’s been pitching all year, then he’ll be a better option than Gomez or James McDonald. The real question will come if A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano, and Jeff Locke are all healthy and performing at the same time. The Pirates would have a difficult choice between Morton and Gerrit Cole if both continue to perform in that scenario. We talked about this topic last week on the Pirates Prospects Podcast.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Your browser does not support iframes.
Jay Bruce came through in a big way Wednesday night.
The Reds All-Star right fielder stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning against Pirates closer Jason Grilli and promptly delivered his 14th home run of the season.
The first-pitch blast couldn't have come at a better time as it effectively tied the game at one...
Reds pitcher Mat Latos revealed after Tuesday night's 4-0 loss against Pittsburgh that he had been fined by Major League Baseball for hitting Pirates second baseman Neil Walker on June 2.
It is part of the on-going beaning war that has been going on between the two teams since last season.
Pirates starter Charlie Morton hit Reds centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo with the first...
The Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since 1992 but things are starting to look much brighter in Pittsburgh. Last year the Pirates flirted with a winning record, but had a rough September and finished 79-83. So far in 2013, the Pirates are 42-29 and seem like legitimate contenders in the NL Central division. Aside from the talented young hitters like Andrew McCutchen...
West Virginia returns from their All-Star break tonight. Indianapolis plays an early afternoon game today. For a look at the possible starters over the next few weeks, please check out our Probable Pitchers Chart. Check out the Recent Transactions section to the bottom of this page, for all Pirates minor league transactions. A full recap of yesterday’s action can be found here...
On Saturday, the Pirates called up AAA pitcher Brandon Cumpton to make a start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Adding another pitcher was huge, seeing that the starting rotation was slowly settling in with super-rook Gerrit Cole making his vaunted debut earlier in the week. Cumpton one-upped his more-highly-lauded teammate in the strikeout department, striking out the side in the...
In the 2008 draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected a player they envisioned would lock down third base for years to come and more importantly the cleanup spot in the batting order for years to come. It has been a work in progress, as Pedro Alvarez has yet to do the latter, but in reality, Alvarez is right on schedule when compared to other power hitters and could become the new Adam...
Pirates (42-30) at Reds (44-29)
12:35 PM–Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
The Pirates will look for a series split this afternoon before they leave Cincinnati. Last night’s loss was a tough one for several reasons – not the least of which is the fact that nearly the entire bullpen was used, and it will probably be needed again today. The odds aren’t...
Jay Bruce ended Jason Grilli's saves streak with a solo homer in the ninth, and Brandon Philips singled with the bases loaded in the 13th inning on Wednesday night, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Derrick Robinson and Shin-Soo Choo singled off Vin Mazzaro (3-2) with one out in the 13th and Joey Votto was walked intentionally. Phillips...
Very early on in this one, Tim Neverett and John Wehner mentioned that there was no home run hit in last night's 4-0 Pirate victory. They mentioned that in the huge majority of games at Great American Ballpark, someone hits a home run. And they mentioned that you could count on one hand the number of times that zero home runs were hit in back-to-back games at Great American. ...
The Pirates couldn’t have come up with a better response to everything that happened on Monday night, as they took care of business right away and ended up with a shutout win over the Reds.
Mat Latos hadn’t lost a game since August, but the Bucs jumped all over him in the first inning. Starling Marte hit a gapper to lead off and may have caught Brandon Phillips by surprise when...
CINCINNATI The Reds led the Pirates 2-1 in the seventh inning Monday night, but Pittsburgh was threatening to even the score with a runner on second and one out. Mike Leake took care of pinch-hitter Travis Snider with a swinging strikeout for the second out. He thought he had finished off the inning with a pitch at the knees against Starling Marte.
Home plate umpire Chris Conroy...
Something weird happened yesterday. Since last season I’ve seen this idiotic refrain screamed loudly by the “smart” fans and bloggers, “I’d rather retaliate by winning the game”. As if those two things couldn’t possibly be done at the same time. Yesterday proved that. The strawman was destroyed. Besides, if intentionally hitting batters led to losses…
Are the Reds the biggest rival for the Pirates?
Way back when the Pittsburgh Pirates were added to the NL Central, they were robbed of a lot of natural rivalries. The Philadelphia Phillies being the big one. The Atlanta Braves, although that would have probably led to a 300% increase in Sid Bream highlights each season. It would even be easy to have a rivalry with the New York Mets...
This is about as frustrating as losses get. The Pirates went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position tonight against Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, and Aroldis Chapman. Francisco Liriano turned in one of his smoother starts as a Pirate (six innings, 84 pitches, six strikeouts, five hits, two walks), except that two of the hits he gave up were solo home runs. Bryan Morris followed that...
Dusty Baker faces a problem, a manager’s dream and fear, all at once. As the Reds chase the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and fend off division-foe Pittsburgh in the Wild Card race, an embarrassment of riches has collected in the starting pitcher slot of the roster.
It’s a problem Dusty Baker would have scarcely imagined five years ago, his first as Reds skipper. Then...