Pirates Notebook: Struggling Bats Come Alive
The Pittsburgh Pirates bats broke out for eight runs on 12 hits on Tuesday against first place Cincinnati. Most of the damage came from three players — who combined to drive in six of the club’s eight runs — that have struggled to get their bats going this season. Clint Barmes and Casey McGehee have disappointed in their first year with Pittsburgh, and Alex Presley looked lost at the plate in May and was demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. But on Tuesday the three of them combined to go 7-for-12 in the Bucs 8-4 win in Cincinnati.
Barmes was benched for four games where he was unplugged from the game to work on his swing. The shortstop was hitting for a .170/.196/.270 line, which included an 0-for-9 skid before Manager Clint Hurdle had Barmes work on some adjustments at the plate. The extra worked proved to pay off on Tuesday, as Barmes went 3-for-4 on the night while driving in three runs. In his first at-bat, Barmes ripped an RBI double into the gap in left-center field to tie the game up at 2 in the 2nd inning. He followed that performance up with a two-run single in the four-run third inning by the Pirates.
McGehee struggled during the month of May, hitting just .104 over 48 at-bats. After the club recalled rookie Matt Hague, the infielder saw little playing time at first base. But since the Pirates benched Pedro Alvarez to work on his swing, McGehee has taken advantage of the playing time. McGehee went 2-for-3 on the day with a home run and a walk. The long ball was his first as a Bucco. It came on a 1-0 pitch in the 5th inning to the opposite field.
Presley was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis today. The outfielder hit just .220, which included a 3-for-42 skid over his last 15 games before being demoted. Presley hit for a .277/.385/.631 line over 65 at-bats with Triple-A and connected for five home runs over 18 games. Four of them came over his last 10 before being recalled. On Tuesday, Presley went 2-for-5 with a triple into the gap in right field and a solo-home run in the 6th inning, his third of the season.
Everyone in the Pirates starting eight reached base safely in the win. Pittsburgh combined for a four run third inning, in which nine men came to the plate, to chase the Reds starter Homer Bailey from the game. Only Rod Barajas didn’t get a hit on the night. McGehee, Presley and Neil Walker each hit a home run.
The Pirates have played well in Cincinnati. Last season at Great American Ballpark, the club went 5-1 over the six games, and hit a combined .270 while averaging 5.3 runs per game. The Bucs trail the first place Reds by just two games in the National League Central and have won eight of their last 10 games.
Burnett Continues Solid Season
Right-hander A.J. Burnett continued his solid season with Pittsburgh on Tuesday against the Reds. Although Burnett was only able to pitch five-plus frames, due to a long first inning, he has not allowed more than three earned runs in his last six starts (2.07 ERA over 39.1 innings).
On Tuesday, Burnett held the Reds to three runs on five hits over five-plus innings. He walked four and struck out eight, which included the side in the 5th, the second which was a caught looking to All-Star Joey Votto.
Burnett was unable to pitch deep into the game due to a 24 pitch first. Zack Cozart reached first after lining a pitch off Casey McGehee at third base. His next batter drew a walk before Votto hit an RBI single into center field. Burnett was able to retire Brandon Phillips, but Jay Bruce connected for a sac fly to left to plate the second run in the inning. The righty struck out his next batter to end the inning.
The right-hander held the Reds to just two hits over his next four innings. Burnett allowed a run in the 6th inning after Hurdle elected to go to the bullpen to get out of the jam. A leadoff walk to Jay Bruce scored after Todd Frazier hit a sac fly to center field. Righty reliever Chris Resop retired each of his next two batters to end the inning.
Alvarez Sits for Second Straight Game
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Tuesday. And Alvarez may not be in the lineup again tomorrow either according to reports.
Alvarez was benched on Sunday in order to “clear the deck” and take a step back from the game. The third baseman is hitting just .140 since being moved to the cleanup spot and is 0-for his last 18 at-bats.
Infielder Casey McGehee has started at third base in Alvarez’s absence in the last two games.
Outfielder Jose Tabata was also out of the lineup on Tuesday. The outfielder wasn’t 100 percent during the Milwaukee series due to leg soreness.
Lincoln Set to Make Spot Start/ Karstens Makes Final Rehab
Right-hander Brad Lincoln will make his second spot start of the season against the Reds on Wednesday. Lincoln was originally scheduled to start on Tuesday, but was bumped because of the day off on Monday. Lincoln allowed two runs on four hits over 6.0 innings against Miami in his first start this season in Pittsburgh. He’s posted just an 0.45 ERA over 20.0 innings from the bullpen — third lowest-ERA in the Majors.
Righty Jeff Karstens will make his fourth and final rehab start tomorrow. His goal is to reach 100 pitches with Triple-A Indianapolis and would be eligible to return from the disabled list for a start on the 12th in Baltimore.