If Jose Tabata doesn’t get his act together, the outfielder could face a demotion to Triple-A. After Tabata made several throwing errors in right field in the Pirates 8-3 loss to Philadelphia on Monday, the outfielder saw himself get bumped down to seventh in the lineup, and on Thursday was benched.
Tabata has been very inconsistent this season. Coming out of spring training it was expected that Tabata and Alex Presley would split time batting leadoff for the Bucs depending on a right-hander/left-hander matchup on the bump. But Tabata has had a disappointing season so far. He’s endured a leg injury, something that Manager Clint Hurdle said he believes is afraid of re-injuring.
Tabata is batting just .226 on the season. Over his last 10 games, Tabata is hitting for just a .192 average with one home run and two RBI. The leadoff spot was given to new Bucco Drew Sutton on Thursday as Tabata has posted just a .288 OBP batting leadoff this season.
Manager Clint Hurdle said prior to the game that if Tabata doesn’t figure it out, he could be sent to Triple-A to work on it at the Minor League level.
Presley was demoted to Triple-A in May after the outfielder went just 3-for-42 over a 15 game span. After spending several weeks regaining confidence and his swing, Presley saw improvements at the plate.
Tabata came in for defensive replacement on Thursday and had just one at-bat. He laid down a sac bunt to advance Michael McKenry to second base in the ninth inning.
If the club decided to demote Tabata, Gorkys Hernandez could be recalled to the Majors during that span. He appeared in nine games where he went 2-for-10 with two RBI and a stolen base.
Garrett Jones Needs to Maintain His Posture at the Plate
The biggest struggle for Garrett Jones since his huge 2009 season when he first joined Pittsburgh has been consistency.
Jones has gone deep twice in his last seven games, but is just 2-for-16 in his last six contests. Overall in June he’s hitting .267, and is coming off a rough May where he hit just .200.
Hurdle believes that if he holds his posture better and stands tall at the plate, he really can drive the ball, and he continues to have conversations with him in order to make the necessary adjustment.
“Flexing at the knees, staying tall and let his hands work out front,” Hurdle said. “You saw some swings where his front side would collapse. He’d get down in crouch position and chase a little bit. I just said, if you got to bend to hit it, it’s too low. If you’ve really got to adjust out of the posture, that good solid athletic posture you’ve got, that pitch probably isn’t a strike. Maintain that posture and let your hands work out in front.”
“Consistency is really what separates everybody at this level. That’s the one thing that Garrett has lacked. He’s trying hard to get his arms and head around it and do it.”
Burnett Wins His Eighth Straight
After tossing an impressive six-inning shutout on Friday at PNC Park, A.J. Burnett did something no starting Pirates pitcher had done in a very long time. Not since Dock Ellis in 1974 has a Pittsburgh starting pitcher won more than six straight starts (Ellis won eight).
The veteran right-hander tied Ellis on Thursday in the Pirates 5-4 win at Citizens Bank Field by notching his eighth straight win. Burnett also became the third pitcher to go a perfect 5-0 in a month. Washington’s Gio Gonzalez and Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels both did it last month. Both the eight straight wins and five in a single month are career highs for Burnett.
After tossing a scoreless first inning, Burnett gave up a two-out home run to former Bucco Erik Kratz in the second inning. The catcher took an 0-2 fastball to center field for a two-run long ball. But after that, Burnett cruised over his next three frames. Since allowing the two runs in the second inning, Burnett allowed just one hit over three scoreless while striking out four.
The third and final run off Burnett came in the sixth inning. The right-hander gave up back-to-back one-out singles. Placido Polanco grounded out for the second out of the inning, but Shane Victorino scored. After allowing his first walk, Fontenot grounded out to end the inning.
Overall, Burnett allowed three runs on six hits over 6.2 innings. He walked two and struck out seven while throwing 101 pitches, 69 for strikes. Burnett allowed three earned runs on Thursday, but this season has held the opposing club to two earned runs or less in 10 of his 13 starts this season.
Alvarez Continues to Rake in the Daylight
Pedro Alvarez has posted some crazy day/night splits this season. Entering game action, Alvarez in the day has hit for a .294/.342/.809 line with ten homers in 68 at-bats. That’s compared to hitting just .192/.266/.301 with three homers in 156 at-bats at night.
On Thursday afternoon, the third baseman went deep in his first at-bat for his 14th long ball of the season. Alvarez drilled a solo shot, and finished 1-for-3 on the day with an intentional walk.
In the at-bat prior, Casey McGehee went deep off Kyle Kendrick for a three run shot. All five home runs that McGehee has hit have been hit in June. The Pirates have homered in five straight games. The homers today were in part of a five run first inning — the first time the Pirates have driven in five to start a game since May 27, 2007 in Cincinnati.