Pirates Notebook: Extra Time Pays Off For Bedard; McCutchen and Walker Stay Hot
When Manager Clint Hurdle had the opportunity to shuffle the rotation for the second half of the season, he decided to use it to his advantage. Heading into the All-Star break, Erik Bedard was struggling on the mound. Over his last five starts, he allowed 21 runs over 23.2 innings.
After his last trip to the mound, Bedard said wasn’t doing anything different, that just they were hitting his pitches. It wasn’t his health either. The left-hander said he felt the best he has in years, which made the rough stretch even more frustrating.
Hurdle decided to push Bedard back to the fifth spot in the rotation for the second half of the season, after starting the year as the club’s Opening Day starter. The move was to give Bedard some extra time throwing bullpens and sides in order to make some tweaks. Hurdle said they were going to review video in order to spot where his mechanics went wrong.
“We’ve been able to show him some video and talk about some situations, things we saw earlier in the year, sequences of pitches earlier in the year versus what’s going on now, the looks we’re getting from the opposition,” Hurdle said.
The extra time worked for Bedard. On Tuesday in Colorado, Bedard bounced back in a big way. The left-hander tossed 6.2 innings — the longest outing for him since June 8 when he went seven — and allowed just two runs (one earned) on eight hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
After retiring his first two batters to start the game, Bedard worked himself into a jam immediately after. Back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases for Colorado, but the left-hander got Jordan Pacheco to hit the second pitch and ground out to shortstop to leave them loaded.
Bedard settled down in his next inning of work, giving up just a hit while striking out two in the scoreless frame. But the lefty wasn’t so lucky with escaping jams in each of his next two frames.
The Rockies tacked on a run in each of the third and fourth innings. Back-to-back singles started Colorado’s rally, but Bedard got Carlos Gonzalez to ground into double play. With the runner on third, Michael Cuddyer took a first pitch fastball into left field. Alex Presley committed a fielding error in left allowing the first run (unearned) to score. A leadoff walk hurt Bedard in the fourth after Josh Rutledge ripped an RBI triple down the right field line to plate the second run to Bedard.
Bedard went on to allow just a single over his next two frames, before taking the mound in the seventh. He gave up a two-out single then back-to-back walks to load the bases. Hurdle went to rookie Jared Hughes from the bullpen, who got Cuddyer to fly out to end the inning. Hughes has allowed just one of his last 17 inherited runners to score.
McCutchen Hits a Bomb
Andrew McCutchen continues to terrorize every pitcher that’s on the mound when he steps to the plate. On Tuesday in Colorado, McCutchen took a 1-1 slider to left field for a solo bomb in the fourth inning. It marked McCutchen’s 22nd of the season and it launched into the stands an estimated 442 ft. After just 90 games in 2012, the All-Star is just one long ball shy of his career high he set over 572 at-bats during the 2011 season.
McCutchen had two more hits Monday and now has 50 in his last 104 at bats. That’s the highest hit total over a span of 100 at bats since Matt Holliday compiled a 48-for-100 stretch for the A’s and Cardinals in 2009.
Walker Extends Hitting Streak to 17
Neil Walker connected for an RBI single in part of the club’s four run fifth inning and extended his hitting streak to 17 games. It also pushed his average to .300 on the season.
The hit streak is the longest by a Pirate this season and longest since Walker hit safely in a career-high 18 games in 2010. The only player in the big leagues with a longer active hitting streak is Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees (19).
Walker entered game action by leading the Majors with a .478 average and .804 slugging percentage this month.