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Morning Java: One seriously down day, but …

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Tuesday column from PNC Park offers five rays of sunshine looking ahead to Game 5. Because I am, you know, that ray-of-sunshine kind of guy.

Here’s some of what Charlie Morton had to say after a plenty-good-enough start …

And here’s Neil Walker

The game story, by beat man Rob Biertempfel.

Gerrit Cole gets the ball for Game 5, by Bob Cohn.

Michael Wacha is the real deal, by Travis Sawchik.

Starling Marte and Walker have been a 1-2 punchout, by Karen Price.

The Cardinals celebrate Matt Holliday’s blast, by Kevin Gorman.

Charlie Morton plans to have a sinking feeling today, by Bob Cohn.

The trouble with changeups in Game 4, by Sawchik.

Kevin McClatchy is welcomed back, by Biertempfel.

Photo gallery by Chris Horner and staff, including this shot of Andy Van Slyke by Chaz Palla

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Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

Here’s Cardinals news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

>> The Dodgers gained the NLCS, thanks to one huge outburst from Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe. The Los Angeles Times reports.

Also, if you weren’t up way late, as soon as the Dodgers won, all the MLB.com and TBS schedules showed the Pirates-Cardinals Game 5 being pushed back three hours to 8:07 p.m. Eastern.

>> Marc-Andre Fleury is all business now, by Josh Yohe.

Our panel on WPXI-TV’s The Final Word tackled the Fleury issue, as well, in this segment …

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, including a look ahead to Carolina in town tonight.

Here’s Hurricanes news from the Raleigh News-Observer.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Ryan Clark says the Steelers will make the playoffs, by Alan Robinson.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage, including Levi Brown’s early work at left tackle.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

>> Pitt gets a good word on Tom Savage, by Jerry DiPaola.

>> I’m doing nothing today. Absolutely nothing. Then it’s back to St. Louis.

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.

387 Comments

  1. DK, I know the feeling. From immediately after the game till now, I have avoided any reference to Sport.

    Amazing to be so completely dominated by a two-pitch pitcher.

    I’m no expert, but I would start AJ. Hope I’m wrong.

    It’s good that you have retained some posivitivity.

    Stuart

  2. Braves. Gone. Good riddance.

    (sorry DK, not sure where the “Readingio” name came from.)

  3. Nothing worse in the baseball world than the Dodgers…..I’ve hated them all my life….Decades before I moved to LA.

    • I’ve read a lot of your postings the last few years.
      You hate a lot.

      • Hahahaha! Daq has mellowed the past few months, piratemike :D

        • I finally had to give the dude credit. All he asked for was winning baseball and toned it down once he got it.

          DK: Seconded. Daq is legit.

          • Thirded. Daq is definitely legit. He’s always been his own guy, even in the midst of the pro/anti wars.

          • Fourthed.

            Daquido is one of the most passionate fans I know.

            • Hey….Thanks for all the good words.
              All I ever asked for was some real effort from this FO.
              I finally saw it this year (especially in Aug), and I won’t go back on my words.
              As for someone that “hates” alot….lol….Not really.
              I actually never said I “hate” Nutting and crew.
              My feelings were based more around mis-trust, and again….Lack of effort.
              Now the Dodgers…..I DO hate.
              Win or lose….The Pirates have turned a corner this year.
              Let’s hope it stays that way.

  4. 1971 World Series, Pirates lose Game 6 in extra innings, forcing a Game 7. Orioles pitch Cuellar. He retires first 11 Pirates. Then, his first pitch to Clemente is hammered into the left centerfield bleachers. Pirates win 2-1. 1925 Game 7. Pirates beat charter Hall of Famet Walter Johnson 9-7, becoming first team to come back from 3 games to 1 deficit in a 7-game series. Wainright?

  5. Oh, also, “What the hell we supposed to do, you moron?” Animal House response to column.

  6. I know the Pirates won’t do this, but in a one-game, winner-take-all scenario, you have to get your best players as many ABs as possible. To me, that means swapping Morneau and Alvarez, moving down Walker (who is 0-for-the-series) to 7th in the order, and bumping everyone else up a spot.

    This would be my lineup:
    1. Marte 2. McCutchen 3. Alvarez 4. Byrd 5. Morneau 6. Martin 7. Walker 8. Barmes 9. Cole

    One bright spot yesterday was a great outing from Melancon. The bullpen has been solid, so if Cole struggles at all, Hurdle should not hesitate to go to any combination of Grilli, Watson, Wilson and Melancon. AJ would be available, but in that stadium I’d trust any of those other guys over him.

  7. A gut wrenching day, but as DK’s column states matter of factly haven’t we all learned not to doubt this team?

    I finished my trip with a visit to Primanti Brothers in the strip district and spoke to the other Bucs fans, we talked about Wednesday, we shared our belief in Gerrit Cole, and we all spoke of how this season is not over. All of us looking forward to Game 5 and for that moment helped lift the spirits after a disappointing day.

    I will follow Marte’s quote with- it can’t end!

  8. AVS threw out the first pitch? Dodger blue shoes, don’t doubt where that loyalty lies. Understandingly so. Still my favorite Pirate.

    Good column DK. I’m still bummed by today’s game, but with Cole on the mound I’m thrilled to see him in action again.

    Pedro compared to Willie? Could there be a better comparison for a power hitter on the Pirates? Does that mean Cutch is Roberto?

    I think the Pirates are flying into St. Louis confident. They are at least saying the right thing. I think they know what to do to beat him. Make the adjustment

    • Saw McCutchen wistfully commenting post-game about what might have been in his last at bat.

      Andrew has been very good so far but needs a post-season signature moment . . . like 3 for 4 with a couple extra base hits and 4 RBI, but I guess the RBI would presume Marte and Walker had gotten on base, an iffy proposition at this stage.

      Maybe it happens tomorrow night.

      • And it would assume that any pitcher was dumb enough to give him something to hit in front of Morneau.

        • I gather you’re not a fan of Morneau at clean-up.

            • I don’t understand how it is always assumed Pedro has to bat here.

              Did Marlon Byrd not hit cleanup for five months of the season?

              • I’d be fine with Byrd at clean-up and then Pedro. Don’t know that Hurdle will be bold enough to shake things up.

                Anyone for Morneau in the 2-hole?

              • Marte and Walker are not getting on base.

                Morneau is not driving in runs, but is getting on base.

                If the old narrative of Justin-Morneau-Cleanup-Hitter weren’t dragging along, this wouldn’t even be a question.

              • Yes, with this set of players Morneau should be hitting second, especially against LHP with Walker leading off.

            • Then how about Morneau to 2-hole, moving everyone else up and dropping Walker to 7?

              Simple enough and not a drastic overhaul.

              • I think that is the part that gets me the most.

                Nobodies role changes. Simply the number on the lineup card.

                The Pirates are starting a rookie with three months of Major League baseball experience over the veteran leader of the pitching staff in Game 5 of the National League Division Series and people are acting like moving one player into a new role in the batting order is a big move.

                Seriously?

              • The “new role” would be to have some hits from the No. 2 spot. Morneau is hitting. Walker is not.

                And your thing would be to keep everything exactly the same, see how things pan out and then comment after the fact?

              • NMR: Went back and read your post to Scott up above. Apparently you’re in favor of more change rather than less. Sorry if I misunderstood.

                I find myself between Groat’s comment (PANIC!) and Scott’s suggested line-up. Only differences I would like to see are Morneau in the 2-hole rather than the No. 5 slot and keeping Alvarez behind Byrd.

              • DJ, that is exactly the lineup I would suggest.

                Marte, Morneau, Cutch, Byrd, Alvarez, Martin, Walker…

              • Hey NMR, I discussed that same order change yesterday as well.

                Though I think I put Pero at 4. I’m fine with Byrd 4 and Pedro 5. Byrd is probably more of the threat behind Cutch than Pedro.

                Pedro go boom

              • What’s up Ryan?

                I just love that we’re talking about minor lineup changes pushes us into the NLCS instead of prospect lists. :)

              • No kidding….

                I was bummed that it was Duke Welker that went over to Minny for More-No, then I saw he was 27.

                Shocked at that one.

              • Ha, yeah, I think Terry Ryan’s eyes lit up at the chance to add somebody that throws harder than 92 mph to their organization. Otherwise, solidly “meh”.

            • Doh, obviously I meant especially against RHP.

        • National Mart of Records,

          Your tonal quality is beginning to hum like Bob Hasis. Morneau has a hit in 4 of 5 Playoff games.

          You are too good/too intelligent/too quality a fan to keep bonging only one note.

          Relax and ENJOY Game #5!!!

          • Groat, when you finally get over what you think I’m saying and realize that I AM NOT BASHING Morneau, maybe we can have a conversation.

            • I don’t have a problem with people bashing Morneau. I still don’t understand d why he gets a free pass. If Jones had 5 RBIs in 30 games ( a 27 RBI pace for the season), this web site would be crucifying him.

              • Jones wasn’t even getting on base. Morneau was/is.

              • His performance has been sub-par, no doubt, and I agree that the lack of criticism is odd.

              • Uh-oh NMR, now you’ve done it!
                ;)

              • Haha, not fightin’ words.

                Just don’t think there is any way Morneau’s performance can be considered average for a first baseman.

                And considering the grief that other players have received for their performances, the lack there of for Morneau’s is at least noticeable.

              • I think people feel like they pushed for getting him, so complaining about him is a little tougher than guys who’ve been around. Seems like a reasonable position. And he does have professional at bats, and no matter what you think he’s a better defensive 1B than even Gaby. ;-)

              • Jandy,
                I don’t know if you are watching the same games. Justin has a .250 avg and .250 on base percentage. In the playoffs after a . 260 regular season average. He did have a .370 Ono in the regular season , but I want a clean up hitter to drive in runs. Ornery doesn’t do that and provides very little protection for Cutch. Neither was good but Jones drove in a run every 3 games and Morneau drives in a run every 6 games. Not real impressive for a cleanup hitter.

              • I think your stats comparisons are a bit flawed since Morneau has been batting against all pitchers, and Jones was not batting against any lefties.

              • Right now, Morneau is working the pitchers, having professional at bats (as AW points out) and hitting in the NLDS. Precisely what you want in front of McCutchen. Added bonus, Pedro to No. 5.

                Let’s slip a note to Hurdle for “Morneau to 2-hole.”

              • parrothead, I watch the same games as you. My eyes tell me Morneau gets on base. Jones hadn’t done that for some time. And as AW said, your stats are skewed since you’re not comparing apples to oranges.
                Then there’s the fact that I never said I wanted Morneau at clean-up.
                Just the facts, sir!
                :)

            • More-no hits very well for a SS.

              He is not a threat in this lineup. Other than to possibly hit a single.

              I liked the experiment with him in the cleanup spot, but now its time to find a new home for him in the lineup.

  9. “How’s it feel to be out of the Playoffs, Braves?”- continuing the Animal House theme.

  10. How about Reason 4a: Upon starting their first playoff series in twenty years on the road, the Pirates were collectively nervous and a bit tight in Game 1 against Wainwright.

    They’ll be a better team in Game 5.

  11. Starling Matte channeling his inner Dean Wormer: ” The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me!”

  12. An Animal House quote ??

    You know what that makes this ??

    Best. Column. Ever.

    And since you’re challenging us to harden our, um, hearts, how bout this one?

    “Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?”

    Best.

  13. I just read all the other posts.

    It’s a Togacevic Party

  14. “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

    Nothing to do with the game. Just my philosophy.

  15. Thanks for the great article Dejan! I was of course hoping we could wrap it up in Pittsburgh and was upset that we didn’t, but I’m not going to throw in the towel on this team. How could I? Look what they’ve done all year! I feel good with Cole on the mound, and we have beaten Wainwright this year. It was hard to come back against him after giving the Cards 7 runs in the first game. If Cole can keep them down, I feel that we can hit Wainwright. And if the worst happens and we lose the game and pack up and head home for the offseason, still how can we be down on this team? This has been the most enjoyable baseball season I’ve seen in way too many years and I thank everyone involved with the Pittsburgh Pirates for this! Having said all of that….LET’S WIN THIS GAME!!!!

  16. They swung at too many curveballs, fell behind in counts, “got away from our plan,” as McCutchen put it that day.
    ———————————————–
    Well it took until October 8 for me to learn that our hitters actually have a plan.

    I was at the Wild Card game and the one on Sunday. I laughed when Jay Bell got such a loud ovation during the pregame introductions. I kept thinking to myself that the crowd must be cheering the early 90′s shortstop and not the current batting coach. :-)

    • Just tell me, mister, what fraternity would pledge a man like YOU?

    • I’ve thought long and hard about this. Your Delta name is FlounderCrack.

    • The question was asked here about McCutchens last at bat. The old coach wondered why Mac swung at that 3-1 fastball. Why isnt he taking there? Not only because that pitch was at the very top of the strike zone and 50/50 to be ball 4, Pushing the tying run to second, but because even if its a strike you gain the benefit of being able to give walker a head start.

      • Probably just trying to do too much.

        You see Joey Votto panned by some for drawing too many walks as a #3 hitting “run producer”. In reality, Joey is just smart enough to know that expanding the strike zone increases weak contact, which hurts himself and the team.

  17. Starting Cole gives the Pirates the best chance to win.

    And that’s all you can ask for. Morton pitched well enough to win yesterday.

    Wednesday will tell. And it’s in prime time, so don’t expect it to end before midnight!

  18. Nice article, talked me off the bridge. I would like to see the numbers on Petey in the 4 hole compared to 6. My gut is he does better in the 6 hole which defies baseball logic but it is what it is. Our pitching got us this far and if we are going on it will be the pitching again.

    • The numbers are skewed, kr.

      Pedro is an inherantly streaky hitter, as we’ve all seen.

      Pedro gets hot, Hurdle waits a month, then puts him in the 4 hole. Well, after a month of hot hitting, any streaky hitter will inevitably cool down, right? So he struggles and people assume it is because of the spot in the batting order, not because that is who he is as a hitter.

  19. JAL’s Keep on Tryin’ Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWnBD6n9j74

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dHVOMzdPYm9wUEJtdVJ0WWUzVWhFc2c#gid=0

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: How the Pirates Could Advance to the NLCS Tomorrow
    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/first-pitch-how-the-pirates-could-advance-to-the-nlcs-tomorrow.html

    Michael Wacha’s Near-No-Hitter Sends NLDS Back to St. Louis

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/michael-wachas-near-no-hitter-sends-nlds-back-to-st-louis.html

    Gerrit Cole Will Start For the Pirates in Game Five

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/gerrit-cole-will-start-for-the-pirates-in-game-five.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Resiliency! Guts! Clutch! All things unquantifiable lead Bucs to 5-3 win

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/10/6/4810382/resiliency-gut-clutch-all-things-unquantifiable-lead-bucs-to-5-3-win

    6 Rumbunter

    Pirates Pedro Alvarez Delivers in Prime Time

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/10/07/pirates-pedro-alvarez-delivers-prime-time/

    7 WHYGAVS

    NLDS Game 4: Cardinals 2 Pirates 1

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/october-2013/nlds-game-4-cardinals-2-pirates-1.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Wacha, Holliday Just Enough to Edge Bucs 2-1

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/10/wacha-holliday-just-enough-to-edge-bucs.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Cardinals 2 Pirates 1

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/10/cardinals-2-pirates-1/

    10 City of Champions

    2013 MLB Playoffs: Pirates out-clutch Cardinals, take one-game lead in NLDS

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/10/06/2013-mlb-playoffs-pirates-clutch-cardinals-take-one-game-lead-nlds/

  20. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 USA Today

    Pirates name Cole over Burnett for Game 5

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/pirates/2013/10/07/gerrit-cole-named-game-5-starter-pirates-nlds/2940171/

    12 The Daily Texan

    Pittsburgh Pirates fans celebrate after fantastic season

    http://www.dailytexanonline.com/sports/2013/10/07/pittsburgh-pirates-fans-celebrate-after-fantastic-season

    13 Rant Sports

    Philadelphia Phillies Could Learn a Lot From the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Business Model

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/10/07/philadelphia-phillies-could-learn-a-lot-from-the-pittsburgh-pirates-business-model/

    14 KDKA

    Pirates Fans Still Hopeful For Game 5 Win

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/10/07/pirates-fans-still-hopeful-for-game-5-win/

    15 Bleacher Report

    How Cardinals, Pirates Match Up in NLDS’ Winner-Take-All Game 5

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1802115-how-cardinals-pirates-match-up-in-nlds-winner-take-all-game-5

    16 CBS Sports

    Cardinals choose Wacha (again), and he gets them to Game 5

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/writer/danny-knobler/24046013/cardinals-choose-wacha-again-and-he-gets-them-to-game-5

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie: Wacha delivers incredible show of poise

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-wacha-delivers-incredible-show-of-poise/article_9b54f5cc-33e2-53e0-a62b-6b22bc92c6f8.html

    Wacha is Cardinals’ return ticket

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/wacha-is-cardinals-return-ticket/article_243e82d7-376f-5892-9138-4be3ed641377.html

    18 PBC Site

    Bucs break up no-no, but can’t close out Cards

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_10_07_slnmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Pirates call on calm Cole for do-or-die Game 5

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/pirates-call-on-calm-gerrit-cole-for-do-or-die-game-5?ymd=20131007&content_id=62649190&vkey=news_pit

    Hurdle’s decision to go with Cole the right one

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/phil-rogers-pirates-manager-clint-hurdle-makes-right-call-in-starting-gerrit-cole?ymd=20131007&content_id=62632788&vkey=news_pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21977

    20 Fangraphs

    Giving a Questionable Start to Baseball’s Best Starter

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/giving-a-questionable-start-to-baseballs-best-starter/

  21. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Increasing snap count of Cameron Heyward may jolt sluggish defense to life

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/steelers-vs-jets-news-and-updates-leading-into-week-6/2013/10/7/4813342/steelers-jets-week-6-defensive-depth-chart-cameron-heyward

    Le’Veon Bell begins the first week of the start of his career

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/steelers-vs-jets-news-and-updates-leading-into-week-6/2013/10/7/4813034/steelers-leveon-bell-week-6-jets-preview

    22 Steelers Gab

    Video: Ryan Clark – Steelers Will Make The Playoffs In 2013

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/10/07/video-ryan-clark-steelers-will-make-the-playoffs-in-2013/

    Soccer(football)

    23 London Evening Standard

    All change at White Hart Lane but same old story as Tottenham are snookered

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/all-change-at-white-hart-lane-but-same-old-story-as-tottenham-are-snookered-8864474.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 7th October, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-the-stories-you-need-to-read-7th-october-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points Tuesday: Jagr Milestones, 23 Years Apart

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/10/7/4811848/pens-points-tuesday

  22. The question was asked here about McCutchens last at bat. The old coach wondered why Mac swung at that 3-1 fastball. Why isnt he taking there? Not only because that pitch was at the very top of the strike zone and 50/50 to be ball 4, Pushing the tying run to second, but because even if its a strike you gain the benefit of being able to give walker a head start.

  23. Now I get it.

    Dejan is Kevin Bacon.

  24. Clear the mind.

    Take it pitch by pitch.

    And then Cole squeezes the life out of the two little red birds atop that bat.

    We can do it.

  25. Thank you, “sir”, may I have another?

  26. As per yesterday’s loss………………

    What? Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

    This needs to be put in the Pirate locker room tomorrow.

    And a picture of Blutarsky with pencils in his nostrils. ;)

  27. It AIN’T over….
    .
    Keep the faith. :-)
    .
    Beat Em Bucs!

  28. Been hearing all morning that the in the last 14 NLDS series…the home team is 3-11 in Game 5.

    This plays into the Bucs favor.

    Keep the faith.

  29. Summary of yesterday’s game:

    ———Cardinals: walk, then homerun

    ———Pirates: . homerun, then walk

    2 – 1

  30. No foolin’. I went to a conference on communication and negotiations a few years ago. One of the presenter’s suggestion for men over 40 to lighten things and open up dialogue with other men over 40 was to start quoting “Animal House.”

  31. Another fine article DK.

    Good to see there are still some positive Animals in the House. I am amped. If you asked me an April 1st if playing in game 5 of the NLDS would be a good spot to be in, of course. We have a really good chance to win. Yesterdays game was great except for the outcome. One pitch decided it, and it was a darn good pitch (sinker at the very bottom of the zone) that was hit by a pretty good hitter. Call me stupid, but I’m still on the train and stepping on the gas.

    Go Bucs!

  32. Just think, we get to have another game-7-like playoff game to watch in an 8 day span. I love the suspense of playoff baseball, hanging on every pitch and at-bat. The Pirates have pounded Wainwright before, so he’s not un-hitable. Like DK said lessons learned from game 1. Pirates have as much a chance to win than the Cards do.

  33. “Sophomore Dies in Kiln Explosion”

  34. Just a RAY OF SUNSHINE KIND’A GUY! LOL!

    Morning fellow (and girlow) Loons … From Texarkana, Arkansas side. BIZ: DON’T ADD IT TO YOUR LIST! I’M JUST VISITING!

  35. If everyone here thinks Alvarez is super hot and want him moved, then make one move: put Alvarez in the 2 spot and Walker in the 6 spot. Period. Beltran hits pretty darn well in the 2 spot, doesn’t he?

    But, unlike Beltran, Alvarez has 5 hits in 16 at bats (.313) with a double and 3 HR and 2BB, and 5 Ks. He has 6 RBIs and scored 4 runs.

    Move him to the 2 spot or the 4 spot and those numbers change a bit as Marte and Walker are not getting on base. Cutch is getting on base, but take a look at Alvarez numbers as a 4 hitter.

    Alvarez hits .218 and slugs .737 as a 4 hitter… and K’d 58 times in 179 at bats.

    • Bottom line: Marte and Walker have to do their jobs… and that’s not happening right now.

    • Naje I usually agree with a lot of things you say but comparing Alverez and Beltran for the purposes of saying Alverez would make sense batting 2nd makes not sense at all.

      Beltran has consistantly hit for average his entire career. Alverez doesn’t even come close to having the OBP that is required to be a good second hitter. Morneau’s stats have been almost the perfect number 2 hitter over the last 30 games. If you just one to make one move I would even be OK with switching Morneau for Walker and be done with it. Anything would be better then Morneau batting clean up right now. He adds a lot of value just not hitting clean up.

      For what it is worth I would go Marte, Morneau, Cutch, Byrd, Alverez, Walker, Martin, Barmes.

      • Still don’t understand how nobody even bothers to question Marte when the top of the lineup has been so putrid.

        The kid struck out 38% of the time coming back from injury. He clearly was not ready.

        • I do. Especially against Wainwright. Tabby should seriously be considered to start. I know you lose something on defense and speed, but you have Marte for those later in the game.

        • I questioned it back in the middle of June when his 3 week hot start was no longer making his overall numbers look amazing. It was not a popular view at all and like the Monreau thing I decided to move on and not bring it up again unless somebody else did.

          • That was way too early. :-)

            • Take away those 3 weeks and he has been very ordinary. Don’t get me wrong. I like him and think he will be a well above replacement player for a very long time. I really don’t know where he fits in the line up to be honest with you but he definately belongs in it.

        • I wonder if it isn’t so much that he wasn’t ready (but it does look like some at bats in the minors would have done some good), but that this is the type of hitter Marte is. Streaky, with a lot of swings & misses

          • I don’t know. For a long time he was batting something like .600 starting off the game. Something told me that might not continue no matter who it was. :-D

          • Good point. Does seem clear he is prone to long slumps.

            I just hope he isn’t really THIS bad.

            • They’re not slumps they’re the by product of not being able to hit RHP when 75-80% of the pitchers a full time player will face over the course of a season will be right handed.

              They just seem like slumps because he’s constantly facing and largely failing against RHP.

              • I do not personally agree with how far you take it, but you do bring up a ver good, and inarguable point. Marte is a below average hitter against RHP.

          • Marte’s problem is not that he’s a streaky hitter, it’s that he can’t hit RHP. Hasn’t been able to since the injury, before the injury, last year, in the minors… hasn’t been able to and never will be able to.

            His continued usage by Clint Hurdle is just another example of why his presence is and will continue to be the biggest obstacle to long term success for the team.

            Starling Marte is proving everyday that he is a platoon player/defensive caddy and nothing more but Clint Hurdle is going to keep putting him into the lead off spot everyday come hell or high water.

            The eight inning yesterday was a veritable microcosm of the problems Clint Hurdle presents as a manager.

            Pedro Alvarez hitting another home run with nobody on in front of him …

            Russell Martin one of the few players in the lineup willing to take a walk hitting behind him and getting on …

            Only to have a potential run erased from the bases due to chronic over use of “speed” and small ball tactics …

            Another right handed hitter ending an inning with a strikeout with no left handed hitter available on the bench because a speed utility guy was determined to be more important when setting the roster.

            From the moment he makes out his lineup card to the last gruesome botched hit and run, caught stealing or popped up bunt Hurdle is finding new ways to stymie the offense every day.

            • Lucky ba$t@rd Clint got bailed out by his players overcoming his stupid decisions 97 times (so far). Amazing.
              Must be clean living.

              • If you look at the number of times the pitching had to shut out or hold the opposition to few than three runs to win many of those games it’s pretty obvious that this is precisely what the players, particularly the pitchers have had to do this season.

                As Travis Sawchick noted in one of his pieces last week, the Pirates offense has produced 34 (37?) fewer runs that expected this season when analyzed.

                That’s all on Hurdle’s outdated approach to running an offense and we saw another example in the 8th in yesterday’s game of how he works to diminishes the offenses output.

              • Did Travis (who obviously never is wrong) say that was because of Clint’s outdated approach to running the offense?

                Did you happen to notice that Clint modified his approach this year? I think DK had at least one column on it. For example, the one thing we all seem to agree on is that his use of the bunt can be very frustrating at times. But I don’t have to look at any stats to know he really dialed that back this year.

                Not saying by any stretch he is immune from criticism, but your criticism of him is over the top. If anything goes wrong its his fault. if anything goes right its in spite of him. That doesn’t pass my BS meter.

                They had one hit yesterday. One hit. That wasn’t on Clint’s batting order. That was on Wacha.

                I take it you believe that NH has put together a team that, with a different manager, would/should win the World Series this year?

              • Pretty sure Travis was just citing some stats from a guy who claims to have developed a model for expected runs due to “clustering” of hits or something like that.

                I suggested to cmat and Scot yesterday that people start pointing out specific moves Hurdle make that do work, since I believe that the whole “in spite of” message falls on deaf ears sometimes. And because I think we could learn a lot from recognizing the successes as well as the failures.

                So while I hated sending the runner in the 8th yesterday, I also liked the aggressive manner in which he pinch hit two innings earlier, allowed Wilson to got multiple innings, and used Melancon without the lead.

      • Flip Walker and Martin in your line-up and then we’re on the same train.

        And keeps Martin in the exact same frame of mind hitting behind Pedro.

        • I’m good with that. Byrd is such an obviuos choice to bat clean up that it just hurts my head trying to think why it hasn’t happened yet. He did it really well the 4 or 5 games before Morneau was traded for. Then there was that small thing where he did it very well for the Mets for the entire months of June, July and August.

          • Seems to be the lefty-righty batting order.

            • That only matters for the 4th and maybe 3rd time through the order and Clint usually starts pinch hitting Gabby and Jones at that point anyways. If you are leading 5-1 who cares if you have two lefty’s batting in a row.

              It’s a nice thing to have but good teams don’t allow the other team to dictate what they do. I say you construct your lineup to do as much damage for the first 7 innings instead of worrying about match ups in the 8th or 9th.

            • I’m not a batting order maven, and frankly it usually bores me. I was just trying to provide the likely justification.

              But on the Morneau thing, with all the complaints, the Pirates have done pretty well with it, and batting order had 0 to do with yesterday’s loss, so I don’t get the angst.

              • I’m not either, AW. Doubt you could find more than half a dozen posts throughout the season complaining about the specific order.

                But I have playoff fever. I find myself focussed more and more on every single at-bat and less on averages.

              • Agreed. Focus for me is giving the team the best chance to win and my sample size has shrunken to about the last 10 games with added emphasis on this series.

              • How does lineup have nothing to do with yesterday’s loss?

                If Pedro Alvarez were getting more at bats all season with guys who get on base better in front of him, you don’t think the Pirates offense would score more runs?

                Ultimately it was Hurdles’s stupidity in the 8th inning that cost them the game but his .805 OPS .350 OBP 44 BB and 70 Ks would be a much better bet in the lead off spot going up against Wainwright tomorrow than Marte’s .724, .315 18 & 114 Ks

                Indeed not only do those numbers call into question his suitability to hit lead off, the real question is should be he be starting at all?

              • I said , specifically, batting order had nothing to do with the loss yesterday. Why? Because NOBODY got on base! (Just a small exaggeration, but not much). I’d be happy to argue with you, but changing what I said isn’t the way to go about it.

              • NMR -I hear ya about the focus being different. Me too. :-)

              • Just making sure, but I hope your above comment wasn’t intended for me, or at least that my comment didn’t provoke that reaction.

                We’ve been pretty decent pals lately, don’t wanna rock the boat. :)

              • Me neither, my friend. ;-)

                No, it was to NorthPirateFan.

        • Well then, it’s all settled.

          Let’s get DK to write the column, along the lines of the old “Some things I think I think.”

          We need his Trib clout.

      • Nate… the reason I’m comparing them is because of the power production… the extra base hits. I know it’s flawed and that Beltran has much, much better bat control. And that’s the point… Alvarez as a 2 hitter is crazy because his K rate is so high and he doesn’t get on base enough. Alvarez as a 4 hitter is very similar: too many outs at the top of the order and you’re left with a lineup that can’t score runs.

        What we have with Morneau (somewhat), but especially Byrd, Alvarez and Martin is pretty solid so far in the post season… guys get on base and guys behind them keep moving them around.

        We’ve scored 7 and 5 runs in the wins. St. Louis scored 1 and 3 runs in their losses.

        We’ve scored 1 run in both losses, St Louis scored 9 and 2 in their wins.

        It’s an incredibly close series… 15 runs for the Cards; 14 runs for the Bucs.

    • Alvarez’s numbers as a four hitter prove nothing.

      • Why? Because he’s proved nothing as a No. 4 hitter?

        • Please provide any evidence that the spot in the batting order is to blame.

          • Please provide any to the contrary. Throughout his career, Alvarez has been very bad hitting in the 4 spot.

            • He’s streaky. My guess is every time he shows signs of hitting for power for two or three weeks he gets moved to clean up and by then he is starting to cool off. That has happened 3 times for 50 at bats and that is how you get those numbers. If you left him in the clean up spot he eventually would get hot and his numbers would balance out. If he batted clean up all year he probably would have ended up with a .230 average with 36 Home runs and a few more RBI.

          • 2013… Alvarez as 4 hitter:
            Alvarez hits .218 and slugs .737 as a 4 hitter… and K’d 58 times in 179 at bats and 197 plate appearances.

            2012… Alvarez as 4 hitter:
            97 plate appearances; 86 at bats; 12 hits, 5 runs, 5 doubles, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 9 BB, 35 Ks. That’s a .140 BA, .216 OBP, .233 SLG, .449 OPS.

            Do I need anything more than 294 at bats as evidence?

            • Yes. A cause.

              Your argument is the very definition of correlation equalling causation, which is a common fallacy.

              You’ve isolated the results and assumed a cause.

              If your argument was valid, you should be able to provide evidence of an immediate improvement once going back to the 6th spot in the order.

              • Sorry, NMR… you want to look at this as a chart, a graph, and all the answers are there for you:

                Alvarez does not produce in the 4 spot. He produces a bit more in the 6 spot… those are his numbers. That’s what he delivers. Those are the facts.

              • These are the numbers the manager has. The intangibles of writing out a lineup card with Alvarez in the 4 spot and sitting and watching him fail in that role over and over has to be weighted with a managers decision along with the numbers.

                I get your math… I get the statistical proof that you want. But it is not there with Alvarez, yet.

                Seriously, I’ve got no problem with moving him and Byrd up a notch and Morneau down to 6… or even switching Morneau and Alvarez in the order or moving Morneau to 2, Pedro to 4 and Walker to 6.

                But these guys are creatures of habit. There’s something to be said about not having to explain things for an elimination game.

              • You can choose to accept that, Naje.

                But you still have not proven anything, nor have you even bothered to address what Nate and I have questioned.

              • Whatever, you are right… always. 300 at bats in the 4 spot, no matter how long he’s there, don’t count at all.

                Look, these are humans… he’s really bad in the 4 spot… and we can’t afford to wait out the month long, or longer, droughts. You want to put him in the 4 spot every game, fine.

                I say wait till next year, but if he’s there tomorrow, I’m ok with it. Wherever he bats, he’s going to strike out 1 in 2.7 at bats and he’ll hit a home run 1 in every 28 to 30 at bats.

              • “Wherever he bats, he’s going to strike out 1 in 2.7 at bats and he’ll hit a home run 1 in every 28 to 30 at bats.”

                See, the only reason I’m even continuing the conversation is that I still don’t think you get what we’re saying.

                What you said above is just not true. You’re taking aggregate stats from an entire year and assuming average performance.

                Pedro Alvarez isn’t anywhere close to that type of player.

                Which is the crux of the 4 vs. 6 fallacy. The spot in which you utilize him during either slump or hot streak determines his production in that role, not the other way around.

              • My own “eyeball” perspective is this, uninfluenced by any statistics.

                When Alvarez was moved to the No. 4 slot earlier this season he seemed to be slightly pressing, as if he had to be a “No. 4 guy” rather than relaxing. Hurdle saw the results and moved him back down. This is not to say that over time Alvarez would not have become more comfortable in his own skin and simply grown into the clean-up role. I think he would have with just a bit more seasoning (just his second full season, right?).

                However, Hurdle did not want to move him because he believed there was a mental “comfort level” component for Pedro. Hurdle may have been correct before but I would say that’s all out the window now. Pedro is performing on the big stage and is embracing his role as a “go to” guy. And it has nothing to do with his No. 6 slot.

                Personally, I move him to No. 5 for Game 5 and never look back. Like Cole as tomorrow’s designated starter wearing his “big boy pants,” Pedro has got his on right now as well.

          • Correction… in 2013, Alvarez slugs .453 and his OPS is .737

  36. Here are some things Pedro Alvarez’s current hot streak has NOTHING to do with:

    - who they’re playing
    - who is pitching
    - where they’re playing
    - it’s a day game
    - it’s a night game
    - it’s ____day
    - it’s the post season
    - he’s batting 6th
    - Byrd is hitting in front of him
    - martin is hitting behind him
    - he’s clutch
    - he’s rising to the occasion
    - Nancy Reagan’s astrologer said so

    Pure Pedro happenstance. Period.

    DK: Magnificent.

    • -the price of tea in China

    • You forgot “it”. ;)

    • Pedro was hitting .180 when he stepped in the box on Sunday with the game tied. He had whiffed 38% of time vs. lefties this year. He was facing a lefty specialist who held opposing lefty batters to 8 for 69 this year, striking out approximately 40% of them.

      All he did was smack the ball into RF to win the game.

      • Is it me, or has he had a bunch of good at bats against lefties in the last month or so? I can’t tease the numbers in any way to show it, but I feel like he’s been more productive than normal.

        • Yeah, I think so. I guess it is just an extended hot streak. But, he is so locked in. When he got up in the 8th, I said to the guy next to me, “I hope he just serves it into LF. Please don’t try to pull it, Pedro.”

          Next pitch – hard single between the 1b and 2b. Shows what I know.

          • Ha! Pedro gon’ Pedro.

            And yeah, gotta begrudgingly admit you’re probably right about this being a hot streak. I don’t think there is any player I WANT to see improve more than him, for some odd reason.

            Looking at his lefty breakdowns, I was pretty shocked to see him hit .280 against lefty fastballs this season. Not so surprised to see that he hit .069 against lefty breaking balls, though.

            • I too want to see Pedro improve but I’ve long suspected that like other players who’ve passed through Pittsburgh the past decade or so, Pedro isn’t going to hit his peak and become the player he’s fully capable of until he leaves the organization and joins one that embraces the idea that a power hitter can often do more that swing for the fence every at bat, maybe even draw a walk or hundred.

        • Every time the subject of Alvarez comes up, here or with TS or anywhere, I ask the same questions and nobody with access seems to want to touch it.

          Given his record in college and the minors, are the results we’re seeing from Pedro solely the result of his abilities or are they in some part the result of what the coaching telling him what is expected of him and him trying to conform?

          We’ve already seen Hurdle moving him in and out of the four spot based on whether he’s hitting home runs or not so when I see at bat from him that led to that run being driven in and others against lefties recently, I’m even more convinced that he’s a better, more complete and patient hitter who’s being told to swing for the fences at all times because that what power hitting, corner men who 4 are supposed to do …

          At least according to some of the old school types.

          • I personally don’t believe the Pirates have improved Alvarez much at all, but I also do not believe they have necessarily hurt him either.

            Spring of last year, when he mechanically was a complete wreck, maybe. But I don’t know what influenced that, either.

            Seems like Hurdle has tried to get him to adopt more of an opposite field approach, but that isn’t ALWAYS what is best for a hitter.

            • Was it this season or last when in an early season game Hurdle was bragging in a post game interview about a home run Pedro had hit on a first pitch and taking “credit” for encouraging him to swing at more first pitches to get his home run totals up?

              It don’t think it’s a terribly well kept secret that Alvarez is being encouraged to focus on hitting home runs, I just wonder how much it’s causing him to deviate the result from what he did in college and in the minors.

              • I think you are mixing up Clint with Jim Tracy. Bragging on himself? Can’t say never, but surely not a personality trait. Maybe he was talking up the coaching staff?

              • I’m far from an ardent Hurdle supporter, but the ONLY time I’ve ever heard him say anything close to being self-serving was when he flippantly “took the blame” for Game 1 in St Louis.

                Can’t say I agree with you on this one, North.

              • Gotta agree with AW and NMR on this one. Clint is not arrogant or self serving.

          • PEDRO IS WHAT HE IS. His strengths are what they will be and his weaknesses are what they will be. How high he soars totally depends on what he does to minimize the weaknesses as best he can and maximize the strengths.

            He has game-changing power. Anything in the air from his bat has a legit chance to get out of the park. That is special. To hit big, you need to swing big. And he will strike out a lot. So does Marlon Byrd, by the by, in case you haven’t noticed. So does Jay Bruce. So does Justin Upton.

            He is also incredible when he gets on a roll and luckily for us he is on one this series.

            Not sure I even want to get into this coaching debate in the slightest. Hurdle’s pedigree as a hitting coach is very, very good. From what I’ve heard all season long, the Pirates offensive issues have been very apparent to this staff and they are obviously instructing the players on various approaches.

            But talent always, always wins out over coaching or any other influence. I highly doubt the coaches have EVER told Pedro to “only swing for HRs”…simply becuase that is NOT how you hit HRs….

            • To be fair, cmat, those little things you mention are also along the lines of what Ray Searage is universally praised for in helping pitchers. He doesn’t just magically cultivate more talent out of them.

              Clint and the big league staff may not HURT Pedro or the other hitters, but I also find it difficult to see much evidence that they help them improve, either.

              • Yes, please do. You lost me at ” I also find it difficult to see much evidence that they help them improve, either.”

              • NMR: I was responding to a post above that seemed to infer that Pedro was a complete hitter in college and the coaches have instructed him to focus on HRs and that has contributed to his (my words now, not being a complete hitter in the bigs).

                I also point out that Hurdle has a good pedigree of hitting instruction, IMHO not that dissimilar to the skills Searage employs in the pitching side.

                All of that said, the TALENT needs to be there and the player needs to put the instruction in motion. Searage’s ‘little things’ can not do much for JMac or Zagurski or Jonny Sanchez if they either don’t have the talent or can’t mentally apply the instruction. Same with hitters. I think it was Pujols a few years back that said that “when Cutch decides to hit to right-center field, he is going to blossom”. I have no doubt that coaches preach to “hit to the middle of the field” constantly. When the players decide to do it they will realize the benefits of that instruction.

                So Exhibit A in terms of improvement is Andrew McCutchen. No doubt in my mind he is a better offensive player today than in 2009 and 2010 and 2011. No doubt in my mind that the reason he is is a combination of : physical development, experience, AND approach adjustments based on coaching and player’s own experience. To eliminate coaching from that logic train to me is very unfair to coaches everywhere.

              • I mean, simple as that.

                Which hitters do you see improving? Which hitters do you see making adjustments?

                If we’re gonna go all Searage For President and admit that big league coaching DOES make a difference, then shouldn’t the same apply for the hitting as well?

                If I can’t see hitters improving, then I can’t see how the coaches have helped.

              • Jordy for one. He’s definitely improved. So has Petey and Cutch.

                What’s the use of having coaches if we don’t believe they help?

                That’s a head scratcher.

              • Ok, cmat, Cutch. Coincidentally the most talented player the Pirates have.

                I resoundingly reject your point of using Jmac, Zagurski, and Jonathan Sanchez as a comparison of talent for which our hitters contain. That is wildly hyperbolic, and not even close to being representative of what Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, et al bring to the table.

                And I also reject the notion that anybody billed Hurdle on par with Searage. Hurdle coached in Denver and Texas. Lot of good hitters already there.

              • Jandy, my entire point was admitting coaches help, with Searage as my example.

                But obviously not ALL coaches help. GOOD coaches help.

                Jordy is just entering the league. He is just developing a baseline. Saying Hurdle is responsible for any of his success would be like saying Searage is responsible for Coles.

                And I do not agree that Pedro is necessarilly improving as a hitter.

              • If you say so, NMR.

                I got your point, now.

                Don’t necessarily agree.

                :)

              • This is a never-ending wormhole of a debate, so I’m pretty much done. To make a statement that the big league staff has made ZERO IMPACT on hitters to me is just dead wrong. You can definitely convince me that Searage is GREAT and the hitting coaches haven’t been as great, but not that there is no evidence that coaching is going on on the hitting side.

                To take this away from baseball, I’m a sales executive for a large company… one of my key roles is defined as ‘coaching’… leading sales reps, who have varying degrees of talent and experience, to have success that is as measured as any baseball stat. They either make their quota or they don’t. And I coach my ass off… provide guidance, lead by example, challenge their approaches, implore them to think of new ways to solve old problems, encourage them, paint the big picture, micromanage the details when they need it…. at the end of the day, COACHING to me is getting them to perform to the full extent that their talent allows. Success for my star player is different than success for the brand new rookie… the types of coaching each needs is different. But don’t tell me for a second that coaching wasn’t involved. Some reps need to experience failure to truly embrace new ideas. Some fight me every step of the way. Some take to coaching too much and want you to do everything for them. It’s a balance and no two are alike.

                But that is just my experience that I think parallels baseball in a big way.

              • You’re making this personal and taking what I said too far, cmat. Go back to my original comment.

                “Clint and the big league staff may not HURT Pedro or the other hitters, but I also find it difficult to see much evidence that they help them improve, either.”

                That is no different than your sales executive narrative. The only difference is that in your narrative, you don’t leave the option that ANOTHER excecutive may be capable of coaching that staff better.

                That’s all I’m saying. Hurdle, et al have not hurt any of these guys, but I don’t believe he’s made sizeable improvements, either. There is the chance that these guys are maximizing their talent, but there is also the very clear chance that they could be better. Firmly in the middle ground, not on either extreme.

  37. “Aren’t we all a little tired of looking foolish every time we doubt this team?”

    No. I could definitely stand to be proved foolish for one more day. TBS sucks as a baseball broadcast but they did show one shot of a very telling “Sign” at the ballpark the other day:

    “We BELIEVE this team will WIN the world series, but even if they do not, THANKS for everything, Pirates!”

    And, I would just like to echo that sentiment. The experiences over the past season have simply been innumerable. All the montages and tributes on youtube could not possibly do it any justice.

    Pedro has truly been fantastic lately, peaking at the right time after having (IMO) a pretty dismal season. I still think we need Walker to finally make an appearance if we’re going to the world series.

    It is kinda impossible to predict what will happen in game 5. Both games in St. Louis so far were blow-outs. Pirates were riding a high after the wild card game and came in and got blown out (almost entirely due to one bad inning). Then in game 2, they come back and blow out the cards. I’m hoping for a game 2-esque response from the pirates.

    • A pretty dismal season?!! He tied for hitting the most home runs in the NL!

    • Yep. Gonna have to define “dismal.” 100 RbI’s, 36 homers, All Star. I have to think that’s the first time in baseball history those numbers have been described as “dismal.” Even in the steroid era.

      • I wish every Pirate player had that type of “dismal” season.

      • And he has delivered big-time in the post-season. Sure he swings and misses at more pitches than we would like, but that young man has made a believer out of me. In big moments, he tends to show up big.

        • Yeah, its hard to imagine Pedro doing anymore that he has at the moment. No one else had anything else going on yesterday. Martin was able to draw a walk off Wacha but then J-Hay got caught so that wiped that out.

      • fine…
        dismal as in the .220 batting average… I’d rather see him up around .260.
        dismal as in leading the team in strikeouts by a wide margin (last I checked, he had double the strikeouts of everyone except Marte)
        I don’t know what numbers reflect the lack of scoring with guys in RISP. So, I can’t really make a legitimate case that he’s sucked there too, especially when he’s batted in 100 as a middle of the order guy.

  38. Did anybody see what self-appointed tough guy/Card pitcher on the shelf Chris Carpenter had to say after the game yesterday?
    Some pretty “rough” words from a guy that can’t even stay on the field.
    I’d put the link up, but I know that’s a no-no here.

    It would be kind of like Jeff Karstens running his mouth at this point of the season.
    In my opinion….There’s too many people allowed in these dugouts of the post-season.
    Carpenter should be back at home where he belongs…..

  39. Haven’t been able to get on here since Friday afternoon, and I will go back and read through the comments from today over lunch (time permitting). But, just wanted to throw in my $.02 from my visit to PNC on Sunday and the series overall.

    I was fortunate to be at the game on Sunday with my wife and kids. I say “fortunate” because it was an amazing game in a wonderful atmosphere at the most beautiful ball park ever built. My wife, who is from Chicago, turned to me before the game had even started and said, “Thanks for getting tickets to this game for us. I have never witnessed anything like this. I have chills running up an down my spine just being here. The kids will remember this day for the rest of their lives.” She uttered those comments shortly after the pre-game introductions and National Anthem. I couldn’t even respond to her for a minute because I was literally choked up at the scene that was unfolding in front of us.

    We had no idea, of course, just how great the game was going to be. But, as has been said a million times here and elsewhere, the atmosphere was electric. No matter how much the announcers on TV and MLB Radio try to do justice to what was going on in that stadium, there simply are not words to adequately describe the atmosphere. The raw outpouring of emotion from the fans of Pittsburgh toward their team was stunning. I have witnessed the Steelers beating the Cardinals in a Super Bowl in dramatic fashion. I have been to numerous other heart stopping sporting events in Pittsburgh in all 3 pro sports, as well as at Pitt. I have been to other sports, professional and amateur, which I thought were truly special. But, I have never witnessed such a loud and boisterous display of support. I felt like the fans willed the Bucs to win that day. I cannot imagine there has ever been a more exciting atmosphere for any major league baseball game.

    The game, of course, matched the atmosphere created in the ball park by Pirates fans. That first inning, with the chants of “Kell-ee, Kell-ee” was amazing to behold. I’m sure those who went Tuesday felt the same thing when the fans got on Cueto similarly. If there had been a roof on the place, it surely would have been blown clean off after the Alvarez single. It was that loud! The scene after the final out was also quite special – fans throughout the stadium celebrating spontaneously in so many ways. Some just stood at their seats and cheered, while others looked to set records for how many high 5′s they could deliver to complete strangers. If you were wearing black and gold that night, you were instantly everyone else’s life long friend. It was just magical, and my family loved every minute of it – as did every other person there except for the handful of unluckly souls with red & blue shirts on.

    As for yesterday, my hat is off to Wacha. His stuff is nasty. He totally dominate the Bucs, except for the one swing from Pedro that ensured we would not be shut out or no hit. I wish we had tried to be a bit more patient when the count was in our favor, but that is easy to say when it isn’t you at the plate trying to hit a guy who has everything working as Wacha did. I am not in the camp who says we needed to finish off the Cards yesterday. Sure, that would have been nice, but we can still finish them off tomorrow. We are facing Adam Wainwright, and he is a very good pitcher. But, he is not perfect. We’ve beaten him before, and I never count this team out. And, by the way, we have a guy throwing tomorrow who is usually pretty good as well. Keep the faith! Go Bucs!

  40. Cam Heyward will replace Ziggy Hood at defensive end.
    Kelvin Beachum or Levi Brown will replace Mike Adams at left tackle.

    Looks like somebody’s alarm clock finally went off.
    Or maybe someone finally figured out what the “standard” was.

  41. I heard John Perrotto say this morning on DVE that Pirates “are playing with House money, with no pressure on them.”

    I consistently feel this is one of the more foolish things a person says. Any truly competitive athlete is NEVER satisfied with losing! FEAR OF LOSING is the dominant emotion that drives most really competitive people [including ME!], moreso even than JOY OF WINNING!

    Winning is a satisfaction of not succumbing to the FEAR OF LOSING as much as it is elation over winning. Over time, accomplishment allows JOY OF WINNING to be the dominant memory.

    When Perrotto and others say “the House money standard” I just have less respect for them. They apparently have never been true athletes or competitive. That sounds like a comment made by “just a sportswriter” or sports groupie. Not a real athlete or real fan!!!

    I will be sorely disappointed if the Pirates lose tomorrow!! Later——much later——I will probably be excited (but NOT satisfied) with what they accomplished.

    • Almost as foolish as saying that the A’s being ahead of the Tigers is somehow a shock. It’s amazing how a team that I think has posted a better record then the Tigers the last 2 years can be such a heavy underdog in the eyes of the “experts”.

      Yes the Tigers have the advantage at starting pitching but they A’s do a lot of things very well including hitting homeruns which playoff games come down to a lot. They also have a bullpen that is so much better then the Tigers. You don’t accidentally win more games over a 162 game season. The team with more wins is generally better or at least equal unless injuries played a major role.

    • Good point, Nate.

    • With you 100%, Groat. Saying that about the Bucs, who battled the Cards to a 1-win advantage through 23 H2H games this year, and to within 3 games of them over 166, is a bit demeaning. I’m tired of the well meaning but insulting “pats on the head” this team gets from the national media. They still don’t think we belong. We’ll see about that tomorrow night.

  42. Tom Singer has an MLB article up interviewing Frank Coonelly.

    In the article Frank, that dedicated ambassador for the Stroll Inn, says that Pirates will strive hard to resign Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez because they are part of core of this team.

    If I were Neil or Pedro, I would start packing in the off-season. Last player those words were used with was Nate McLouth at his resigning.

    Why does Frank EVER talk?!?!

    • because Global Warming depends on him…………….

    • Not opening any sort of FO past debate ‘remix’, but simply put:

      1. The Core of a 2013 playoff team, with promising talent on the way is DIFFERENT than the core of the team in 2008

      2. The talent of Walker and Alvarez is MUCH greater than McLouth
      3. Frank is team president; pretty clear the baseball moves originate from Neal and his staff.
      4. Core or not core, under contract or not under contract, the FO should always consider trade offers ON THEIR MERIT. If the Dodgers called and offered Kershaw and Puig for Cutch, I think I’d pull the trigger. Just one example.

    • Frankly I doubt there’s enough money in the world to get Alvarez to sign a deal that would keep him in Pittsburgh long time.

      Sure everybody is all high on Pedro today but how short Pittsburgh Pirate fans’ memories are that it was they who were booing the guy incessantly to start each of the last four seasons, how as recently as this May 4 out of 5 callers to talk shows were calling for him to be sent down or traded and local media was using Pedro as their whipping boy to blame every offensive problem on, exactly as they did with Aramis Ramirez.

      I’d bet dollars to donuts there’s enough bad feelings generated the last three and half season that Pedro and his agent Boras are already planning to squeeze every penny out of the Pirates in arbitration his big home run totals will allow and make the earliest exit possible for more money and respect in another city.

      I said this very thing months ago when people were still questioning his value to the team and I’ll say it again; enjoy Pedro for as long as we have him because he’s not likely to be here for very long given everything that has happened and the way he’s been treated.

      • I don’t think Pedro will sign a long term deal with the Bucs, but I also don’t think it has anything to do with any lingering hostility. I have heard Pedro express on numerous occasions how proud he is to represent this organization and these fans.

        As I walked out of the game on Sunday night, a spontaneous “Pedro” chant started. After the game. I doubt Pedro has many bad things to say about the fans of Pittsburgh at this time.

        I also think he realizes that he was not very good for his first couple of years, and that in any city in America if you are a first round draft pick that is not delivering as expected you will be booed. He knows he was a poor hitter for quite awhile until it clicked. I believe Pedro has been treated pretty well this year by Pirates fans and he knows it.

        • I think you’re spot on, Jim.

          If and when Pedro signs elsewhere, it will be because his agent (that greedy SOB) makes a deal he can’t refuse
          There will be no emotions involved.

        • I’m not suggesting he wouldn’t sign in Pittsburgh solely because of lingering hostility, but all things being equal the way he’s been treated in Pittsburgh would tip the scales against it.

          Pedro is a professional being handled by a top agent who knows public perception is part of what gets a player the big bucks so no matter what he’s going to say thing like that but especially during good times. But let’s not kid ourselves … since Pedro’s arrival and up until about 6 to 8 weeks ago fans and much of the local media have treated the guy pretty shabbily.

          When he came up he was immediately expected to turn the franchise into a winner and when he didn’t people, fans an media alike, booed his every strike out and tried pinned every team failure on him. Just because he’s all but carried the team down the stretch and people are all warm and fuzzy today doesn’t erase all the bruises inflicted on one’s ego over years.

          Hopefully we won’t have the opportunity to find out if I’m right, but rest assured if the Pirates don’t win tomorrow there will be no shortage of ya-hoos calling into say it was all Alvarez’s fault no matter what he does and one or two writers who try to pin it on him as well.

          • I think maybe the fans turned the corner a bit earlier on Pedro than you do, North. He still faced criticism on this blog and other places, but I think that is just the nature of a streaky hitter. Pedro is a bright guy. Every time he speaks, I am more impressed with how thoughtful he is. So, I think he is bright enough to know that a big chunk of his being criticized was that he tends to go into long slumps. I really don’t think he believes it would be different in other cities because it wouldn’t. Guys get booed and criticized far more harshly in a lot of other markets. If you are a guy that often goes into 3 and 4 week funks, it comes with the territory.

      • EVERY player, every negotiation should always be approached with value in mind. I would never, for example, offer Cutch or Pedro or Cole or anyone a contract longer than 5-6 years. What the Angels did for Pujols and Hamilton (and before that the ridiculous AFRAUD contract with the Rangers/Yankees) is beyond insane.

        So you set what you think is the right value equation, as NH would say you perhaps do something a ‘little stupid’ but ‘not insane’ and the player either signs or he doesn’t.

        The Pirates aren’t going to keep every talented player nor lure every FA to the ‘burgh. They will do better now than they ever have, but it is what it is.

    • Coonely is doing exactly what any good small market team president should do for business…convince fans that they will keep their favorite players.

      Coonelly is just too arogant and/or stupid to realize that there might be four people in Western PA who actually believe any of that after dealing with the economic realities of baseball for the past 21 years.

      Besides, I don’t believe anything short of a mandate from Bob Nutting would get Neal Huntington to extend Walker or Alvarez at anything close to market value. Just simply not good moves.

      So yeah, Frank.

      • Wasnt it earlier this season that some people didnt want to give Pedro or Walker contract extensions because they didnt feel the players were deserving of it due to poor play?

        And, with Pedro, could a big arbitration award preclude a contract extension? I would be willing to bet if Boras helps get Pedro a big arb award, the chances of a long-term deal diminish. Boras would know the $$$$$ for such a deal would skyrocket, and the Pirates ability to pay such $$$ would not be too good.

        For the record, I would like to see both pedro and walker stay Pirates.
        Just dont know if it can be done.

        • I think big arb will almost certainly preclude an extension, and I think he’ll get it, too.

          Homeruns and RBI get the big money, and those are coincidentally what Pedro does best. He could be pushing $10m/yr by his last time through arbitration.

          And yeah, me too, in a perfect world.

        • Exactly, far to many people around these parts have short memories and many of those who are now praising Pedro were the same ones bashing him during all along.

          Boras doesn’t really need to help him to get a big arbitration win, those home run totals have already secured it. My only point was that anyone who thinks all the warm feelings for him today are going to lead him to not test the market and give some kind of discount are kidding themselves.

          He and his agent were likely always going to go for the biggest contract possible and all the poor treatment he’s received since arriving in Pittsburgh up until very recently only set that choice in stone.

          • I still don’t think his treatment has anything to do with it. The treatment simply has not been that bad, especially for the past year +. Every time I see that charity night thing on TV, Pedro’s wife is front and center. Obviously, she’s attractive and all. So, putting her front and center makes sense. But, if Pedro was so angry at being treated so badly, as you are suggesting, I don’t think he would risk subjecting his wife to potential abuse from all these awful Pirates fans. She would not be at the ball park on a regular basis, either, as she sure seems to be. And Pedro would not continue to express thanks to the organization and its fans. Of course, maybe he’s just putting on an act. He just seems to genuinely enjoy Pittsburgh to me.

            95% of the players go for all the dough they can get. So would 95% of bloggers if they suddenly had the ability to hit a Michael Wacha fastball 438 feet.

        • The only problem is Scott Boras.

          He’s not a fan of the contract extensions for his clients like Pedro. Likes to test the FA market for them.

          Or at least, get to that year for of FA eligibility.

          I think Pedro needs to be an off season priority. Don’t ask me about $$$$ though.

          • I wonder if prospects in the pipeline will have an effect?

            Seems like there are a few guys that could conceivably take over for Neil.

            Nobody to speak of for Pedro.

            • Yeah, that sure seems to be the case.

              Or, maybe we could think a little differently as St. Louis often does. It appears they may allow Freese to walk, move Carpenter to 3rd, and put Wong at 2b.

              • Hm, good point.

                Neil’s bat isn’t Carpenter’s but it might be able to pass at 3B. His ISO of .167 would rank 8th in baseball for third basemen this year, surprisingly (at least to me).

              • That’s one thought I had. I think he would now be a pretty good defender at 3b.

                I don’t want to see Pedro go, but it seems inevitable. I also think they’ll trade him before he goes. If they can’t get a young SS in that deal, at least get a replacement for him at 3b.

                I keep hearing Hanson will end up at 2b.

              • Hanson at 2B, Neil at 3B and Pedro to 1B?

    • Are either guys a free agent at the end of the season? I’m pretty sure they’re both going to be with us for some time.

      • Walker has two more years of control and Pedro three…but the typical window for extensions is quickly closing. You also have to figure that at some point the team will decide whether or not to get anything in return for them as opposed to simply letting them walk in free agency.

        • Correct. It is very unlikely, IMO, that they wait on Pedro until the last minute. Either sign him to a long term deal or trade him after next season. That could stretch until after the ’15 season, I suppose.

        • Walker has 3 also. He was a super 2, which doesn’t advance free agency, just an extra year of arbitration.

          Both are eligible for free agency in 2017.

    • Here’s what Frank said which wasn’t very revealing, IMO:

      Both Neil and Pedro will be eligible for arbitration — Neil for the second time, he was eligible last year as a Super Two player, Pedro this year for the first time. They’ll both be members of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the next three years, if nothing happens in terms of long-term arrangements. There have been discussions in the past with Neil, and I suspect we’ll have those discussions again, and we look forward to keeping them as key members of the organization.”

      • Thanks but I don’t see the rush on Walker. He has been injury prone and his play seemed to have declined from where he was at five years ago. I would want at least one more year of solid play and to be injury free before we start to talk long term with him.

        • That was supposed to be a reply to NMR.

        • I’m with you on that one, personally. In today’s MLB, he’s probably worth eight figures to somebody in the league as a free agent. I just don’t think that is smart for the Pirates.

          • Plus, I think he’ll be 30 when he takes the field for the first time as a free agent, so the question is; how long is the contract for? I can understand signing him for a few years if he stays healthy the next two years but a contract over a ½ decade wouldn’t suffice.

          • I like Walker and wouldn’t be opposed to the Pirates signing him to a contract per say, but I shiver every time I hear his name and contract being talked bout in the same terms as Andrew McCutchen.

        • I would not go long term with Neil, right now. But, I wouldn’t rule it out a 3 year deal if he bounces back strong next year, as I expect. He is not hitting for as high of an average as he did a couple of years ago. But, on the other hand, he had maybe his best power year in 2013, his walk % is at an all-time high, and he seems to have grown into a solid defender.

          • Three years seems reasonable.

            But I still don’t know if I’d do it considering he’s already missing about 20% of the season due to injury and he’s become an obvious platoon. Turns him into an effective player maybe 75% of the time.

            I’d make him try sticking to hitting lefty before I lock him up.

  43. And, I have been slacking here (no surprise to Jandy)…….

    This is for Biz, if he gets to read it today………….. for the lunatic list……..

    Ozburger………………. Geelong, Australia. But he is currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina looking for a good bar to watch the Pirates on.

    Dont know if you want to count that as 1 location, or 2.
    Now I feel better.

    • Where did you see that, Hipposter?

      paperwork…schmakerwork…

      • Yesterdays game thread.

        After any DK thread is over, I go back and look for posters that post their locations. Thats why I refer to myself as the night janitor of the blog, especially as it pertains to Biz’s list.

        But I am still a distant third to you and Biz. ;)

  44. Things I think I THINK (acknowledgement to Peter King):

    1. Wacha pitched EXCEPTIONALLY yesterday. Let’s not be Dusty Baker and forget to tip our cap to the competition. Whatever the lineup order, yesterday was about Wacha being dominant.

    2. Tomorrow is definitely all hands on deck…. but not sure I’d go with AJ in any circumstance other than some freak reason Cole needed to be lifted in the first 2 innings. Otherwise, Gomez is ready to go 2-3 innings, and if you get through the 5th, it’s Wilson/Watson/Melancon/Grilli time.

    3. Lineups, lineups… I think CH can go either way and he’d be completely justified, IMHO. He can ‘stay the course’, ‘dance with who brung you’, ‘don’t change now’ and there is plenty of precedent for that. Yes, Marte and Walker are slumping but not sure their bats work much better in other spots in the lineup. Pedro can move up, but lots of baseball lore about keeping things the way they are to keep his streak going (not saying it has any science to it, but years and years of baseball superstitions at play here). On the other hand, he can roll the dice, like he is doing by skipping AJ and starting Cole… My personal lineup would be:

    Marte LF (with his speed and lack of other leadoff options)
    Mercer SS
    Cutch CF
    Pedro 3B
    Byrd RF
    Walker 2B
    Morneau 1B
    Martin C

  45. Dejan,

    Finally got an uninterrupted chance to read your column today. You, sir, are not “just another sportswriter or sports groupie.” You understand competition.

    You wrote not from a “Woe is me!” point of view, but “What must we do now?” point of view. Your ending with Starling Marte was classic.

    Thank you!!!

    “Put me in, Coach; I’m ready to play today!”

    DK: Glad you found it fair, Groat.

  46. “Do you mind if we dance with your dates?”

  47. Just saw on the USA webite on college football bowl projections….

    Sun Bowl Dec 31

    Pitt vs Arizona State

  48. Good luck, PBC, and all the fans here. Bucs would do well to live by the motto of the British Special Air Service today:

    “Who dares, wins.”

  49. I got one thing to say about tomorrow.

    Why

    Not

    Us

  50. There is still the real possibility of a stinky baseball final four:

    LA, StL, Det and Bos.

    Go Rays, Go A’s and, especially, Go Bucs!

  51. Gerrit Cole has as many hits as Marte & Walker combined! Just saying.

  52. just read dejan’s article…excellent! the last line is terrific and SO true. 5 – 3 pirates.

  53. talk to y’all tomorrow. have a good tuesday evening!

  54. go penguins! who did everybody pick for scoring the first goal tonight? (Jokinen here)

  55. Oakland 1 – Detroit 0 in the 4th.

    So the Tigers face an insurmountable lead.

    Just call me the Steelag of Detroit.

  56. RAISE THE JOLLY LEYLAND

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