Pregame: Not enough sink


ST. LOUIS — Manager Clint Hurdle and Charlie Morton will study video of Morton’s outing Thursday against the Cardinals in which the right-hander allowed five runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Last night, Hurdle offered some theories for Morton’s struggles.

“Sometimes, (pitchers) do not holding themselves over the rubber long enough,” Hurdle said. “They get in a bit of a rush and the arm doesn’t catch up. Sometimes, it could be his hand on the ball. In the past, sometimes his had has gotten on the side of the ball and it’s gone east-west vs. more north-south. We’ll have to look. He was grinding pretty much the entire evening, (but) he had much better sink the last time he had to grind.”

Morton’s sinker simply was not effective. He realized the problem early on and tried to use other weapons. He threw 62 percent sinkers last night, which is lower than his year-to-date rate of 69 percent. He used the curveball 21 percent of the time (15 percent YTD) and the changeup 7 percent (5 percent YTD).

Pitch       Last night       Year to date

Sinker     52 (62%)         1550 (69%)

Curve      18  (21%)        329 (15%)

4-seamer 7 (8%)           161 (7%)

Changeup 7 (7%)          121 (5%)

Cutter         1 (1%)            17 (1%)

Slider          0                      77 (3%)

“It’s one of those things where you go out there and you try desperately to pitch like you have been pitching, in terms of the way you go at hitters,” Morton said. “I go at hitters with my sinker. But if the pitch is simply not effective, you can’t continue to pitch like it still is effective.”

The last pitch Morton threw in the game was a 1-1 sinker that David Freese whacked into right field for a two-run, game-winning single. Morton threw the sinking, trying to get Freese to ground into a double play. “You look back and think maybe I could’ve thrown a changeup, maybe I could’ve thrown a curveball, maybe I could’ve thrown a four-seamer up,” Morton said. “But, in that situation, your go-to pitch for a double play is a sinker. I threw it in and he just got inside the ball and hit it down the line. I’m not going to look back and say that was ‘the pitch.’ I wish I could’ve gotten it down and in on his hands more. But maybe if I get it down and in on his hands, he doesn’t swing. I don’t know. You make your pitch and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. If it does work out, then everybody claps and you go home happy.”

»»» Bob Walk will work as the analyst for the Fox Sports regional broadcast of the Pirates-Cardinals game on Saturday. Cardinals announcer Dan McLaughlin will handle the play-by-play.

»»» Tony Watson last night gave up Matt Holliday’s two-out, three-run homer in the eighth inning. In game one of Monday’s doubleheader against the Brewers, Watson was tagged for four runs in one inning. Holliday hits .250 with a .461 slugging percentage against lefties and .322/.568 against right-handers. “In the Brewers game, he missed spots,” Hurdle said. “(Last night), he just hung a slider on the outer third of the plate. It’s a tough matchup; you’ve got to pick your poison. But Holliday’s hit 80 points lower against left-handed pitching than he does against right-handers. We just missed our location, big time. He threw a cement mixer over the outer third of the plate, and that’s where Holliday’s lethal.”

»»» Looking for new digs in Chicago? Derrek Lee has put his luxury condo on the market.

Lineups for today’s game:

Pirates (61-69) – 1. Jose Tabata rf, 2. Alex Presley lf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Garrett Jones 1b, 7. Josh Harrison 3b, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. James McDonald rhp (8-6, 4.21)

Cardinals (68-63)–  1. Skip Schumaker 2b, 2. Allen Craig cf, 3. Albert Pujols 1b, 4. Matt Holliday lf, 5. Lance Berkman rf, 6. David Freese 3b, 7. Yadier Molina c, 8. Rafael Furcal ss, 9. Jake Westbrook rhp (10-7, 4.70)