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Final: Pirates 6, Cubs 2

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Looking ahead to first pitch …

Game: Pirates (52-32) vs. Chicago Cubs (36-47)

Starters: LHP Francisco Liriano vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija

Time: 4:05 p.m.

Site: Wrigley Field, Chicago

TV, radio: Root Sports, 93.7 The Fan

Here’s the official live box score.

Here’s the Pirates’ lineup …

  1. Starling Marte, LF
  2. Neil Walker, 2B
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Garrett Jones, 1B
  5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  6. Russell Martin, C
  7. Jose Tabata, RF
  8. Jordy Mercer, SS
  9. Liriano, P

Here’s TribLIVE’s Pirates page. Karen Price is on the scene.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

247 Comments

  1. Time to start another winning streak. Let’s Go Bucs!!!

  2. Jordy Mercer at SS? Must be because of something Barmes did yesterday. ;-)

    • He got his one start for the week. If Jordy gets a little more consistent with his glove, I think you’ll see less of those Barmes starts.

  3. Who is this Smardijza guy? Never heard of him. :)

    • Isnt he a cheese? Closely related to mozzarella? ;)

      • He certainly throws it!

        • Growing up in my Sicilian-catholic neighborhood (I am neither)………. smardja IS a chees, related to mozzarella that was used on pizzas and sandwiches. Very creamy, and smoother than provolone. Ah, those were the days.

          This pitcher…….. not so much.

          • I am now smarter, and hungrier, because of that knowledge.

            • Sorry.

              Oh, I forgot to mention it is anywhere between 8 and 30 dollars a pound. So it gets used very sparingly.

              • WHOA.

                My cheese would be more expensive than my wine. Which probably tells you something about my taste in wine.

              • But if you were to get the really good imported Italian stuff from PennMac, or someplace similar, you wouldnt eat any other cheese, ever.

                Maybe you need to upgrade your taste in wine??? ;)

  4. Why don’t they have Pedro batting fourth? Is it because he has been hot at #5 and they’re afraid his production will falter if they move him up one?

    • Probably just a matter of comfort with Garrett hitting fourth.

      Not sure how good of a read you could get on Pedro at specific spots in the order due to his inherant streakiness. If he’s good/bad, is that because of the spot in the batting order or because thats how Pedro just happened to be hitting that week?

      As long as that Jones-Pedro-Walker scenario gets broken up by someone who can actually hit a lefty, I don’t have a huge problem with who hits where.

    • I think it has everything to do with Pedro sucking when they first put him at clean up and his perceived sensitivity. But if you’re not going try it now, when can you ever try it? It’s not like GI Jones has done anything for the last 6 weeks to merit hitting 4th (and I’ve been a fan since he came on the scene). And you can always slide El Toro back down if the perception becomes reality he really does have a mental block about hitting 4th in the majors.
      Agree with NMR that they need to break up the lefties and righties better. Even at the top, having Marte, Martin and Cutch is stupid. Walker should hit 2nd against all RH starters and Martin’s then available to break up Pedro & Garrett. My choice would be pedro 4th, Martin 5th and Jones 6th. Might take a little pressure off Jones that way too and makes the bottom of the order more balanced too, unlike today having 3 righties 6 – 8.

  5. Anyone hear how the wind is blowing in Wrigley today?

  6. Pirates first round pick Reese McGuire went 4-5 with 2 2B’s and 3 RBI’s in his professional debut with the GCL Pirates.

    You only get one chance to make a first impression, his was pretty darn good.

    Pirates get some help from the Angels who take 2 of 3 from the Cards including the ninth inning collapse of Mujica last night. Angels have won 8 of 9 since being swept by the Pirates.

    Pirates play Cubs, A’s and Mets before break. Cards get Marlins, Astros and Cubs and Reds get Mariner, Brewers and Braves.

    Series like these against the Cubs are must wins when you are in the midst of a tight pennant race.

    • Thanks for the roundup, JRay.

      Lotta bad teams in that list. Looking forward to seeing some good baseball when the A’s come to town.

    • I don’t hate our schedule. Pretty sure we can win a tight game against anyone at this point. The problem is… all our games are tight lately… even against teams that are less than good. I’d like to think we’re due for a big pirates win.

  7. Hello to all. I know this is the Pirates’ thread, but just saw that the Pens signed Rob Scuderi. Thought some Pirates/Pens fans might like to know. LET’S GO BUCS!

  8. TRIP-TRIP-TRIPLE PLAY FRIDAY!!!

    Max “wager” is 100 units on any single line.
    All “wagers” must be in multiples of 5 units.
    Play as few or as many lines as you’d like.
    As always, this is for fun and entertainment purposes.

    NEW PLAYERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME & ENCOURAGED!!!

    Line #1
    Total Combined HITS + WALKS + HBP + ERRORS COMMITTED by Jordy Mercer in today’s game
    Line is 1.5

    Line #2
    Total HOME RUNS hit by the Pirates this weekend at Chicago
    Line is 3.5

    PICK ‘EM Line #3
    Total WINS by the PIRATES this weekend against the Cubs
    0 (TRIPLE ODDS)
    1 (DOUBLE ODDS)
    2 (EVEN ODDS)
    3 (EVEN ODDS)

    Please Note – All games must be considered official games in order for line(s) to be valid. Any postponement, cancellation, or suspension of game(s) will void line(s).

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    • Hoo boy, tough ones.

      Line 1 – 100 over (especially with errors added)

      LINE 2 – 100 over

      Line 3, hmmm, 100 on the PBC sweeping them.

      Thanks as always, Playoffs

    • Line 1 – 100 OVER
      Line 2 – 100 UNDER
      Line 3 – 100 2 wins

    • Line 1: 100 OVER!!!
      Line 2: 100 UNDER!!!
      Line 3: 100 on #3!!!
      Thanks!!!

    • line 1 100 salami on the over
      line 2 100 salami on the over
      line 3 100 balogna on 2 wins

    • 100 on the over for line 1 & 2 please.

      Lets Go Bucs!

    • At playoffs: going to be bold again today give me 100 over on lines 1 and two. Give me 100 for two wins on the third line. Thanks

    • Good afternoon to the window. Well the Bucs head to the road for a quick three game trip with the Cubbies. Time to take another series. On to Three play Friday.

      Line 1 – 75 on the UNDER

      Line 2 – 75 on the OVER

      Line 3 – 50 on 2 wins

      Thanks and Let’s Go Bucs!

    • Line 1 over
      Line 2 over
      Line 3 2 wins

      100 lollapaloozas on all three. Thank you once again Playoffs. Go Buccos!

    • Over on Line 1 & 2 for 100.
      Please

    • Playoffs,
      I’m going with the all-optimistic approach:

      100 OVER line 1 – optimistic that errors don’t play into it
      100 OVER line 2 – 3 day games + PRNW due for a little power surge, why not in one of his favorite ballparks to hit. Put him down for 2 HRs by himself
      100 OVER line 3 – get out the brooms. With STL playing all chumps until the All Star break, Buccos need to turn it up a notch to maintain their place

    • Line #1–100 on the OVER

      Line #2–100 on the OVER

      Line #3–100 on 2 W’s

    • 100 on the OVER.
      100 on the OVER.
      100 on 3 wins. (Fingers crossed.)
      Thank you!

    • Line 1, OVER, 100.
      Line 2, OVER, 100.
      Line 3, 3, 100.

    • @ playoffs

      Line 1: 50 on the UNDER
      Line 2: 50 on the UNDER
      Line 3: 50 on 2 WINS

      Thanks!!

    • Line 1 – 50 on the over
      Line 2 – 100 on the over
      Line 3 – no bet

    • 100 and over on both lines 1 and 2. 100 on the buccos winning 3 games for line 3.

    • Mr. Playoffs…………

      May I please have the following?……..

      Line 1 — 100 Hippos OVER.
      Line 2 — 100 Hippos OVER.
      Line 3 — 50 Hippos 2 wins.

      Thank You oh so much for this public service……………

  9. #1 100 points on over.
    #2 100 points on over.
    #3 5 points on 2 wins this weekend. Skeptical on pirates offense. Figuring there will be atleast 1 game that we lose by 1 run.

  10. Just a hit-and-run comment as I have to head out after popping in here for a quickie:

    JimS,
    I believe you hit the nail on the head, regarding what we’ve seen, so far, with Gerrit Cole (“I think he is executing the organizational plan of pounding the zone low and hard to force teams to string 3 hits together to get one run.”)
    Cole is supposed to have four different pitches. But the game-plan designed for him in his first couple of starts was clearly to work only his fast-ball. Now, five starts under his belt, we’re beginning to see a little of the curve and of the change-up. It’s almost like he’s under orders to specifically work a certain pitch or two in spring training. This, plus the fact that he’s still just arrived at the MLB-level mean to me that placing evaluations some are placing on him, *right now, at this specific time* are not to useful. His career facing MLB lineups and managers is so young, from start to start is going to be very different experiences for him. Especially when mixing in the specific marching orders he is obviously being giving from above (Hurle’s quick hook being just another one).

    I wouldn’t have written off Jordy Mercer after just five games this year when his batting average was at just the Mendoza Line. Cole has had just five MLB starts this year. Cole is going to be a top of the rotation pitcher, and much sooner rather than later. I won’t see too much into what Cole’s ERA is or what kind of contact opposing batters are getting off him — right NOW — when his repertoire and experience is still so limited.

    Gotta run. Will check in, tonight.

    • Not useful?

      Pretty sure everyone made it clear that those evaluations weren’t for projecting the pitcher Gerrit Cole might be in the future, but the pitcher Gerrit Cole is this season. That kinda matters.

      And unless part of those “specific marching orders” were to tell the media that he wasn’t comfortable with his offspeed pitches, thus was not using them, I’m not sure that can be blamed on forces from above.

      Bottom line, I don’t think Gerrit Cole needs excuses for his performance to date. Has he lived up to his potential? No. But he’s been far from bad, and as you said, is only five starts into his big league career at the ripe old age of 22.

    • “after popping in here for a quickie”

      I hope it was better for him than it was for the rest of us. :-)

      I agree with NMR that any restriction Cole has on his pitches is mostly dependent on what he’s comfortable with at this point, not what management tells him to do. Coaches take pitches away in the lowest levels to force pitchers to develop their other pitches. Once they’re in the show, CH and NH can’t hamstring them, especially as pitchers need to make adjustments within a game. How can they do that if they’re not allowed to throw their whole arsenel?

      • Haha, somebody que up “Afternoon Delight”.

        And yeah, scouting reports seemed to always say Cole showed “flashes” of a plus slider and changeup, but it hasn’t been any secret that he’s always battled command issues. His major league career, to date, would seem to show exactly that.

        I give him a ton of credit for focussing on what he can throw for strikes, and doing it well. There would seem to be a pretty strong correlation between less offspeed pitches leading to less walks at the big league level.

    • Clint has said loudly and clearly, Cole is not being restricted as to pitches in any way. Do you have info for your inference otherwise??

      Cole is growing, he has such excellent talent and stuff, and it’s a joy to watch him ‘hold his own’ in such a good rotation at the ML level… is he dominant? In certain at bats, yes, we see glimpses. He belongs here, he is gonna be great, and I personally think it is much better to err on the side of taking him out of games a smidge too soon than to leave him in to give up the big HR or big hit and see his confidence ebb… it’s a gray area, I can see those that say he should get a chance to work through trouble late and build that confidence but it could go the other way too, guys.

      • I know my criticism of Cole’s handling yesterday wasn’t just about Cole’s mental state, but the team’s chances of winning.

        It’s not like Cole was pulled for Melancon or Grilli, or even Wilson or Watson for that matter. He was pulled for Vin Mazzaro. Is that really the guy best suited to handle a two on, one out jam?

        • I agree that Hurdle’s decision to bring Mazzaro on was perplexing. You are looking for immediate outs in that situation, not someone to hold down the fort for a couple innings.

          • Who should he have brought in in the 6th in that situation?

            • Wilson didn’t do that great the other day coming in for Locke…

              • If it had worked out, no one would be b**ching about who he brought in. There would still be a few complaints that he took Cole out too early, but not who he brought in.

                “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

              • But it didn’t.

                Which is the point.

            • Melancon, and its not even close.

              • Really? For the very first time this year? He was brought in once in the 7th inning, but he started the inning off. If we’re including fantasyland all bets are off.

              • Good lord.

                So now Mark Melancon, he of the NL leading 0.87 ERA, is only good enough to start the 8th inning with nobody on base?

                How can that possibly make any sense?

              • NMR,
                I really hope you are not holding your breath to see Melancon in any inning but the 8th….and Grilli the 9th

              • LOL, we can’t have it both ways, guys. We can’t use Melancon and Grilli for all of the bullpen innings…this was the 6th inning, options were either Morris/Wilson or Mazarro.. .Wilson pitched the night before I believe… so they went with the guy who had just pitched 5 perfect innings…it didn’t work, but c’mon, man (in the voice of Stephen A Smith)

              • Somebody please provide one baseball reason why Mark Melancon can only pitch in the 8th inning.

                Do I really have to point out the obvious?

                You have to actually HAVE THE LEAD IN THE 8TH IN ORDER TO PROTECT IT.

              • Melancon is good enough to start many innings.

                But please give me one example where a manager has brought in his set up guy in any inning but the 8th? At least, I believe, Melancon has pitched in the 9th inning.

                You may not like NMR, but that is way the game is managed these days.

              • Talk to Clint. But if you’re going to base your criticism of this particular decision on the fact of the guy who was brought in, it would seem reasonable to limit Your choices to the guys that were possibilities.
                Melancon, in that situation, wasn’t a reasonable possibility. As I said, fantasyland in the circumstances.

              • In Fantasyland, Cole is still pitching in the minors -’working on things’ and making sure he is not a Super Two.

                And Jonathan Sanchez is on his way to a Cy Young Award as a Pirate. His strongest competition for the award is coming from JMac

                :-)

              • “because everybody else does it” isn’t a reason, its an excuse. In baseball and all walks of life.

                That’s not managing. Anybody can do the same thing over and over regardless of situation.

                This should be simple.

                State one reason why your best reliever should not be used in the most difficult part of the game.

              • NMR, your logic is sound but really out of place except perhaps in a must win game in September or the playoffs… you can’t manage a game in July like you suggest… even if Melancon would’ve been the best guy to shut down the inning there, you start to say to the rest of the bullpen that you have no confidence in them. All of the bullpen has been great, Melancon/Grill pitched only 2 innings of the 12inning shutot the other day of the Brewers… so why not Mazarro there? Or wilson? Or watson? or morris?

                And it should be obvious, but let’s say we do get out of the 6th, someone would have to pitch the 8th, possibly Mazarro. SO not sure what we accomplish there.

              • Not sure what we accomplish there?

                Um, how bout HOLDING THE LEAD!

                Crazy thought, I know.

                Wouldn’t want to hurt the bullpens feelings.

              • NMR, this is fun, but you have, in my view, a flawed hypothesis… that the 6th inning jam was the “biggest situation of the game”. It ignores the possibility that there may be bigger jams or situations in the 7th, 8th or 9th… innings where you have less of a chance to come back with your own at bats.

                I hope you are not suggesting that the Bucs throw Melancon in any inning where the lead is threatened… if you are suggesting that, then I will just have to respectfully disagree with you. The reason why the best bullpen arms go late in the game is because your offense has little chance to comeback from deficits…

              • If caring about wins and losses is the only rubric, we’re all right. Another feignt, NMR.

              • Because you don’t know it is the most difficult part of the game—until after the game.

                And the Pirates still had 4 innings of at-bats. It was the top of the 6th.

              • *feint

              • cmat, you’re absolutely right. My hypothesis does not account for the POSSIBILITY of a tougher situation occuring in the next two innings (Grilli would take the 9th).

                But the key word is “possibility”. You’re now managing for a hypothetical situation, not one that is assured of happening.

                You use Melancon to get out of that jam and you still have Mazzaro plus your two best lefties to bridge two innings of work until you get to Grilli.

                You give up the lead and you lose the chance to effectively use Melancon OR Grilli.

              • @cmat – I do think number of at-bats left is a good point, fwiw.

            • Not “guys” cmat. Just NMR.

              And for some reason he keeps feeling the need to point out the decision didn’t work. Duh!

              • Pshh, what an idiot that NMR is. Caring about wins and losses and whatnot.

                Poor Clint was only doing what all the other kids in school would’ve done!

              • NMR, you must be new to this blog.

                Plenty of us care about wins & losses.

              • @TC

                Then why is “because everyone else does it” an acceptable answer to a decision that cost the team a win?

              • #1 — no one said ” because everyone else does it”

                #2 — we would have won with a different decision?

                Talk to bob hasis about clairvoyance.

              • “But please give me one example where a manager has brought in his set up guy in any inning but the 8th?…You may not like NMR, but that is way the game is managed these days.”

              • Fair point. I was too focused on what I was saying.

              • I appologize for the wins and losses straw man, btw. Added nothing to the conversation.

                Would’ve been better off stating that I’d rather think outside the box in a tough situation than follow the leader.

            • So, I guess now the argument is we should be using Melancon more?

              smh

              • No, thats what YOU made the argument. Nobody suggested increasing his appearances or inings.

                The argument is WHERE Melancon should be used. Simple reading.

              • Then why is “because everyone else does it” an acceptable answer to a decision that cost the team a win?
                ———————————————
                I didn’t say it was an acceptable answer.
                But at the time I didn’t know it was going to cost the team a win. And did it? How about scoring some more runs so it doesn’t cost us a game?

                I would actually like to see managers do what you are saying —there are certain times where you have to do things differently. Sometimes I would like to see the set up man or closer go more than 3 outs.

                But if I was the manager, I would not call down to the pen in the sixth inning and ask my set-up man -who has been lights out all season pitching the 8th, and he knows & expects to pitch the 8th – to get up now and loosen up. Not going to do it.

              • @Thunder

                If you’re gonna blame the offense, then why does it matter who is used or how they pitch?

                Just score more runs! Simple!

                Maybe I’m just an old school guy, but I detest this growing trend of closed minded bullpen management. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

                If you were using a pinch hitter in the same situation, would you purposely choose a lesser option because of the possibility that the team may need another run later in the game?

                I’d be shocked to hear anybody say yes.

              • fascinating discussion, guys. except for the bits of childishness in between, I can certainly see the points on both sides. I tend to agree with the people who like to see our best guy setting up our closer in the 8th.

              • You didn’t like the childishness?

                C’mon, Kevin, quit sounding like a newbie. You’ve been around. :-)

            • Sorry I missed your post AW but needed to run out for a bit. Had I been here to respond, I would have replied Melancon as well.

              It’s a funny yet beautiful thing. There are a lot of old school baseball guys on this blog, a lot of new school baseball guys and some old school baseball guys influenced by new school as well.

              For a lot of people, Melancon’s use, like Grilli’s use, should not be longer than one inning . . . that it would be sacrilegious to mess with what’s been working. It’s certainly hard to argue with that view right now. But for Melancon in particular, I happen to think he could go 2 to 2.5 innings with ease. He seems built for that occasional spot use, when needed.

              In the situation yesterday, and factoring in it was only the 6th inning, I would have thought our best chance for a strike-out in lieu of a hit or walk would have been him.

  11. Line#1: 100 over
    Line#2: 100 over
    Line #3: 100 on winning 2
    Please

  12. As the Bucs prepare for this quick three game road trip in Chicago, one area that I don’t think has been discussed as a key part in the Bucs first half performance is their play on the road.

    Consider the teams’ road record the past four seasons:

    ’12 – 34-47 .419
    ’11 – 36-45 .444
    ’10 – 17-64 .209
    ’09 – 22-58 .272

    Total prior four seasons – 109-214 .336

    This year the Pirates are 23-17 on the road .575. Playing .500 ball rest of way out would give them 43 road wins, playing at current pace would give them 46-47 wins.

    If you look at the last three Pirates playoff teams of ’90, ’91 and ’92 they achieved:

    43 road wins in ’92
    46 road wins in ’91
    46 road wins in ’90

    These numbers seem to indicate the Pirates should be in very good position if they can manage to play .500 ball away from home the rest of the year, which will be an important part of the equation as we measure up the second half of the season.

    • Good stuff JRay. For once the math is in our favor. Thank you.

    • Good post JayRayTrey, but that might be a tall order. In addition to the division foes you’d expect, the Bucs remaining road series this year are at Washington, Miami, Colorado, SD, SF and Texas. No gimme’s there and I think the only one you can sathey “should” win is Miami. Though they can’t think that way. Only makes these 3 (and any remianing games) against the Cubbies that much more important.

      • Not sure how you define “gimmes”… Rockies, Padres, Giants are average or below average teams… tough to win in SF, but I don’t think playing at Petco or Coors Field is ‘scary’ at this point. Texas is tough, to be sure… but Washington is one I’m too scared of either.

        • I’m not willing to count the chickens before they are hatched. Every team can do us harm, we’ve seen that the past couple of seasons.

          Hope the club just puts their heads down and keeps fighting.

        • Rockies scare me at Coors. They’re a completely different team in their home park. Not sure the Bucs have the offense to keep pace.

          • I think the Bucs have fared decently in Coors, I agree we shouldn’t count chickens on any road series, but we also shouldn’t count ‘chicken littles’ either.

            This team can compete anywhere, let’s see what happens.

        • No real definition, I just look at their home records since we’ll be playing there. Their home winning %s are COL .553 (getting Tulo back well before our series there), SD .581, SF .615. I’m not sure if you meant WASH does scare you or not, but their % is .571 mostly without the just returned Harper. I just don’t think you can assume you’ll win a series against a team over .500 in their home games, even if you’re over .500 on the road. Something’s got to give and we’ll (hopefully) win some of those series, but it will be tough to do.

  13. The best thing about Cole so far is a) not his 100-mph fastball, regularly displayed, b) not the fact that his strikeout totals so far aren’t nearly what we’ll be seeing in a year or so, c) not how he manages a key 3rd-out K whenever he really needs one (using that 100-mph heater), but d) how he is stubbornly pacing himself so effectively thus far in the season. He’s never thrown more than 80-odd pitches, and usually gets through the fifth with only 60 or so. His limit this season will be based less on innings pitched, but pitches thrown. Unlike Strasburg a couple years ago, he’ll be fine deep into the playoffs.

  14. My summation from the earlier thread about Cole; rather than pretending to know about NH’s or CH’s DNA, and avoiding (perish the thought) being disrespectful of Hurdle, and presuming we know all about Cole’s competitiveness (which we don’t), how about Hurdle offering a display of CONFIDENCE in Cole and letting Cole prove his competitiveness.

    That didn’t happen yesterday.

    Yesterday could have been a powerful confidence builder for Cole.

    I think Hurdle choked, and I can only imagine what he’ll do when the decisions really get tough. We’ll see. I’ll give him a pass for yesterday’s blunder – but no more.

    • I’d say CH may have yanked him too early in other starts, not yesterday. Cole just didn’t have it yesterday. Let’s keep in mind the Phillies may still be hitting in the top of the 1st if they don’t foolishly test Martin’s arm, not once, but TWICE.

  15. DK: Excellent, excellent point today about NOT trading Taillon or Cole… people too often forget the signing bonus already invested that the first few years is supposed to cover…. couldn’t agree more that those guys are untouchable. I go further to say the top 10 is off limits UNLESS it is for a sure thing BAT ( I won’t speculate names because I like soup).

    There was a bunch of comments on how Clint is ‘managing’ Cole.. I guess the presumption is he took him out too soon yesterday. HALF of the hitters Cole faced REACHED BASE, I think it was 11 of 23… yes, the pitching to Rollins was impressive, but folks, yesterday Gerrit wasn’t fooling what is a good hitting team.. and I for one will not waste a second of my conspiracy theory minutes (I’m on the family plan) on this one…. he was removed because of his performance yesterday, period.

    Also a lot of chatter to send Fort packing and to bring Sanchez up. Folks, the backup catcher is going to get ONE start per week… about 4-5 starts per month… Sanchez has work to do on his defense and throwing, it would not be beneficial to him to ride the pine in Pittsburgh… there are a LOT of things for this team to focus on that isn’t who the backup catcher is… maybe we can start a Charlie Batch or Leftwich or Gradkowski thread instead? Might have as much impact….

    • Amen. RF (and pitching) is where the Bucs need to focus their energy on.

    • Agree that RF and starting pitching are where the primary focuses should lie, and I would add to that mix a multi-positional bench guy who could also pinch hit in lieu of Inge.

      On The Fort, we’ll check back in after a few more bounced throws to second, a few more 0-for-4 starts and 4-5 more pop-ups in a pinch hitting role. The mere fact that there are greater improvements to be sought in some areas should not mean you just disregard others altogether.

      • I should be clear..

        IF TSanchez is fully ready to play in the bigs (no throwing issues, then if I were running things I’d have him on the club and send Fort to Indy. I have heard that is not the case.

        That said, given I am not running things, and team cohesion and continuity seems to be a factor, I won’t gripe about Fort, yes, even if he gets run on like sieve and strikes out 4 times a game. Because he is only playing 1 a week, max…

        Now, the Bucs righthanded bench needs to be better, upgrade for Inge should be a priority but I won’t put that all on Fort… we shouldn’t be relying on pinch hits from the backup C very often.

        • I think we are on the same page then.

          On The Fort, I agree that we shouldn’t be relying on him in a pinch hitting role (or a pitch hitting role), but that has seemed to occur more so lately, unless my mind is playing tricks with his actual use recently.

          I certainly don’t want to overstate the benefit, but I happen to think Sanchez being the back-up would give him a push he needs to perform better defensively. Being around a guy like Martin could do that and I don’t see any real downside risk, particularly since The Fort has not contributed at all since . . . well, since I cannot remember.

  16. Did anyone catch the All-Star debate espn was having this morning? I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve watched that network this year, but when I flipped by, Marte was on the screen. Here’s a brief summation,,,

    Pedro definitely makes the team with Cutch and Grilli. The surprise was – most of the panel were arguing that Marte AND Martin deserved a spot. Jayson Stark actually said he would bring Martin over Posey (No way Bochy does that).

    Almost no mention at all of Locke (although I see he shows up on a couple ballots), but a few people were pushing for Melancon. Here’s the link to their picks. Pretty interesting debate. I never would’ve added Marte’s name to my list, but they made good arguments.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/allstar13/story/_/page/allstarpredictionsnl/espn-national-league-all-stars

  17. For those going thru 4th of July hangover and withdrawal………….

    http://siextramustard.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/jaquie-ohh.jpg?w=400&h=600

    You are welcome. :)

  18. CH just announced on pre-game show AJ Burnett will start on Sunday in finale versus the Cubs. That will align him to make two starts before the All-Star break.

    Welcome news to have him officially back.

    • Big, big boost to have our leader back in the rotation… one thing we perhaps are overlooking, is that the Bucs had a superior June without the top 2 rotation arms… remarkable.

      • 17-9 June…speaks loudly to the better depth this team does have. Agree great to see him return to action as you know he has to be itching to get back out there and help the team.

      • Nah, lots of posts about how we were doing without Wandy and AJ. Nothing new there. But, getting AJ back for two starts is a big deal.

    • +1

  19. I’d rather try to hit a 100 mph fastball than that slider. Liriano looks nasty today.

  20. Martin misread that drive. Trade him — must be lazy or unmotivated.

    • If Martin does it regularly through the next 4 seasons, I’d agree. :)

      • Mercer really showing signs of being a bad base runner. No reason for him to go to third on that hit. Became a really easy out. Would have like to see Marte bat with two on.

        • Not sure rookies can show signs of bad baserunning. Baserunning is a learned skill, so it stands to reason that if he cares enough it will improve.

  21. Gotta like Liriano. He is taking hard hacks.

  22. Have any of us ever seen a worse team run the base paths???

  23. Not going to complain about Jordy being aggressive, but he has to pay more attention to where that throw’s going.

  24. Stupid shift. How many times are we going to see them leave 3rd base open.

    Ridiculous.

  25. Terrible pitch

  26. Alverez falls asleep did not cover the bag after playing the shift

  27. Lead off f’in walks.

  28. First runs Liriano has given up to Cubs in 16 innings this year

  29. I know what the stats are, in general, for sacrifice. Even a worse choice in Wrigley, where a weak stick already has a 2run homer???

  30. The Pittsburgh Kid ties the game!!!

    Bats are waking up again………

  31. Cubs quickly give one back, as Walker rips a triple, chance to retake lead.

    • Triple covers up some brilliant baseball by Marte. Speed, speed, speed!

      • Big reason why I think his name gets floated about as possible All-Star, his work on base paths, ability to get triples far superior to most in league.

  32. And a Jones gapper gives Bucs 3-2 lead, still nobody out as Pirate hitters continue to tee off on Samardzija.

  33. I don’t think that was a planned double steal, but it worked.

  34. There is some great base running, as Cutch just steals a run off the Cubs as he takes off on Jones steal, just his second of year.

    Cubs in a giving mood today!

  35. Wow.

    Playoffs line is already over.
    Walk is as good as a hit.

    And nice sacrifice by Liriano. He has handled the stick well today.

    • You are so right. And after watching Frankie run the bases in his last start, any contribution on offense has to be considered a huge bonus. He has still never scored a run in MLB.

  36. Pedro has a rifle of an arm, that was a great play made from the SS position.

    • forced to make a great play due to another stupid shift.

      • I know there has been much talk on this blog in regards to the shifts, something the Pirates employ more than any team in baseball. I have read some accounts that credit the Pirates advanced scouting and shifts to the positive defensive metrics the team has.

        Just interesting the different takes and opinions as it relates to defensive positioning.

        • It was a nice play by Pedro. I was initially not a shift guy but having seen it work quite a bit, I am cautiously embracing the concept. It does create some unusual situations though…

        • I’m all for the occasional shift being used. Absolutely agree that there is data to support it is generally used effectively. I just think that particular shift creates problems with a runner on 1st.

        • Not saying there isn’t a good argument against the shift, but it’s an easy strategy to second guess since when it doesn’t work out well it’s usually ugly.

  37. Hysterical, live television interview with CH’s father and one of the Wrigley Field ushers loses it.

    The not so friendly confines in Chicago today, maybe them being 15.5 games out has not only temperatures this summer rising.

  38. Yeah, that Tabata never hustles.

    • seriously? He has two nice games and everyone who ever complained about him are suddenly wrong? You do remember that this is the guy that was getting called out by teammates and coaches, right?

      I hope he turns into the player we’ve all waited 4 years to see. But don’t act like his hustle was ever beyond reproach.

  39. Tabby could gain a supporter with continued hustle like that

    • Maybe the talk CH had with him before he rejoined lineup has registered. He had a hustle double the other day and now beats out a ball on the single.

      This team plays one way, hard and aggressive and the leadership in this clubhouse appears strong enough to not allow that to be inclusive of everybody.

      I for one am pulling for him.

  40. And Tabby with his fourth hit since his return on a hustle single….RBI for Tabata, 5-2 good guys.

  41. Just a small sampling as to what hustle means and can accomplish

  42. He was out but I won’t complain

  43. Slider-Change-Slider. To the pitcher.

    I’d love to know Liriano’s fastball strike percentage today.

    He is certainly a different animal.

  44. Other than the one pitch to Hairston, Liriano has been flat out untouchable today. Just mowing the Cubs down on 63 pitches thru five innings of work.

  45. Tabby was out. But only the super slow replay could prove it. If he continues to play like that, he’ll change a lot of opinions about him. That was great hustle. Absolutely busted it getting down the line.

    Castro might get ran out of town soon. Seemed to really take his time with that throw. Fans are already complaining about his lack of effort.

    • Pirates sign Cutch to six, seven year deal at $51 M and I think we all feel very good about that investment, and it looks like a bargain.

      The Cubs locked up Castro a season ago for seven years, $60 M and look at the return staring back at them.

      The importance of identifying the right individuals to make up a teams core.

  46. Cubs just up there hacking, first pitch out to Soriano, first pitch out to Ransom, not even making Liriano work. That is just a bad baseball team.

    • They’re terrible. How many balls have their OF let get by them today? As I type this, Hairston dives 2 feet behind a bouncing ball.

      Nice hustle, again, by Tabata.

    • No better in the field than at the plate either. Plus they look like it is late September and are 30 games out of first.

  47. 3 triples in one game.
    When did the Pirates last do that??

  48. We need this run to TRIPLE the Cubs’ score.

  49. And Tabata drops in the Pirates third triple of the game. Tabby now 5-11 since his return to raise his average on the year to .293.

  50. I’m rooting hard for the guy, but must always remember it’s Tabby. Unless he is totally rehabbed from his former self, but I like the offense for sure.

    In the meantime just another routine DP started by Mercer

  51. Wonder if Liriano comes out for the 8th?
    He has only thrown 87 pitches, and allowed only 3 hits.

  52. Marte using his wheels again, second swipe of the day and now has 25 SB’s on the year, fourth most in MLB and just eight off top spot held by Ellsbury.

  53. Navarro’s problem was definitely because of hitting Cutch’s bat setting up to throw to third.

    Nice setup by the Bucs to add a run.

  54. If Tabata gets a hit or beats out a throw here, I’m buying his jersey!!

  55. As good as they are, Pirates’ pitchers have not completed a game yet this season.

  56. Martin again !!! :)

  57. Martin picks Castro off of 2B!!!!

    Martin = Pirate’s 1st half mvp

  58. Martin shows again why he’s MVP for the “first half.”

    • + a million, Arriba. There are a few candidates, but I certainly cannot argue with you. He’s a defensive WEAPON!

    • It’s been so long since we have had a legitimate catcher that we had almost forgotten what one looks like. He’s been a beast so far. Would love to see him keep the average around .265 the rest of the season and he’d then he have been worth his weight in gold.

  59. Applaud CH for letting Liriano bat and giving him shot at the CG, needs to trust his starters especially when they are going well that in itself will give the bullpen some additional relief.

  60. Wow. Liriano didn’t even crack a smile after that plat. Web gem!

  61. Between the legs backward.

  62. RAISE THAT JOLLY HIPPO !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Frankie Liriano with the first complete game of the season!!!

  63. Behind Francisco Liriano’s second career complete game, and Pirates first CG since AJ Burnett turned in one on July 31, 2012 against these same Cubs, the Pirates club out 13 hits and get RBI’s from five different players to rout the Cubs 6-2 in the opener of the three game set and there was noooooooo doubt about it.

    With the win the Pirates are 21 games above. 500 for the third time this season at 53-32, 24-17 on the road, 2-2 in July.

    The Pirates will go for their 17th series win of the year tomorrow afternoon with Charlie Morton taking the hill for the Bucs.

    Let’s Go Bucs! And go Mariners and go Marlins.

  64. Raise it! Complete game and the offense looked great. Lets do it again tomorrow folks!

  65. I was not able to comment during the game, but in just trying to get a feel for how things were going on the blog today, it appears that at one point there was a spirited discussion of relief pitching and who should have pitched in the 6th – yesterday’s game still top of mind, I guess.

    Well, as for today, Francisco Liriano did not allow for any of that sort of discussion. He just went out and throttled the Cubs with only his 2nd complete game of his career (or so the Cubs announcing team said). His other one was during his no-hitter. Wow! Way to save the pen, Francisco!

    On the Cubs broadcast, which I was forced to watch due to MLB rules, Jim DeShaies (remember him from the Astros?) started out the broadcast by saying that although the Pirates have MLB’s best record he just doesn’t think they are close to the best team. But, he grudgingly admitted “That’s what their record says.” By the end of the game, he was praising the Pirates up and down and talking about how Bochy would have a tough time keeping a bunch of Bucs out of the AS Game.

    Great start to this series, guys! I’ll be there with the kids on Sunday, hopefully to see AJ and the sweep.

    Another miserable losing streak has been halted! Raise it!

    • Chi-town in a great city and Wrigley is a great place to watch a game. A dump, but a very lovable dump. My favorite after PNC and Fenway.

      Bring another one home for all of us here.

      • I rank those 3 at the top also, DJ.

        Wrigley is great. It is old and rickety, but the atmosphere inside and outside is just awesome. Walking around Wrigley before a game and taking in the sights (and the smell of ballpark food) is a real treat. I love to go down the LF line pre-game and watch the guys with their gloves catching BP homers. Very cool.

        We’ll be taking a quick weekend trip to Cincy in two weeks when the Bucs are down there to catch the Sunday game, DJ. I have not been to GABP yet, but am looking forward to it. I don’t like much about the Reds, but it is a great baseball town. I expect GABP to be a few notches below PNC, but still very nice.

        • Have not been to GABP either but heard Cincy is a great ball town.

          That said, the park looks a little hokey with a lack of honest dimensions, the baseball bat smokestacks, what appears to be a Riverboat Queen paddle-wheeler atop right field bleachers, etc.

          A lot of these parks were designed by HOK out of Kansas City (not sure about GABP) and came online within 3-4 years of each other. It is hard to believe that only a few got it right (PNC at the top, CamdenYards) and others so terribly, terribly wrong (Houston, Cincy, etc.).

          Although I might hear from a few kids or their parents as well, glad McClatchy ran out of money (that was like on his first day as owner, right?) before he built that pirate ship planned for outside the right field entrance.

          There is so much beauty in the park and the city skyline, why would we ever detract from those visuals? And better to get the kids excited early about what is occurring on the field (now, not then).

          • I love the diversity of ball parks. But, you’re right that a lot of the new ones tried too hard to be unique. It didn’t work everywhere.

  66. The combination of superb pitching, strong hitting, daring base-running and excellent fielding made this one of the best all around Bucco games of the season. Kudos to Clint Hurdle for letting Liriano finish his four-hitter.

    Please no more of this “come from behind” excitement. Let’s win ‘em in the first five innings.

  67. Clint should have brought in Mazzaro in to get that last out

    :-)

    Raise it!

  68. Clinch the series tomorrow and then get a sweep on Sunday with Burnett on the mound in gravy time. The offense hit Jackson the first two times they faced him and then chased out of the zone the last time.

  69. …fear the Bones….

  70. Beat EM BUCS

    GO LIKE 60

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