Pirates Notebook: McKenry’s Hot Bat Making the Case For More Playing Time
Since Rod Barajas was injured on a play at the plate in Philadelphia earlier this week, Michael McKenry has been making the most of his playing time. When McKenry was acquired from Boston mid-June of last season, he started the majority of the remaning games behind the plate for Pittsburgh. In his first full-season in the Majors, McKenry has had to adjust to the backup role, which can be challenging for any young player. But recently, McKenry has been swinging a hot bat.
Over his last seven games, McKenry has gone 10-for-21 (.476) with three home runs and nine RBI. His third long ball of the season came on Sunday afternoon in the Pirates 5-4 loss to the Cardinals.
The Pirates, down by three runs, were able to rally for four runs in the fourth inning off Jake Westbrook.
Neil Walker started the inning with a leadoff single, his second hit of the game. With one out, Drew Sutton hit a double to deep right field. Allen Craig made a jumping catch up against the wall, but the ball bounced out of off his glove for the two bagger. Clint Barmes followed with a single into shallow center field to drive in Walker for the first run.
McKenry came through with a three run shot to left field on a first pitch sinker, putting the Pirates up 4-3 at the time. The long ball extended McKenry’s hit streak to seven games. The Pirates have homered in nine straight games and have blasted 15 long balls during that span. Pittsburgh currently lead the Majors with 52 homers on the road.
After hitting for just a .129/.182/.355 line in the month of May, McKenry was able to bounce back well in the month of June. Over 11 games, the catcher has hit for a .306 average.
McKenry is expected to continue to see more playing time while Barajas gets healthy. The veteran is currently day-to-day with a bone bruise, and Manager Clint Hurdle has been taking his time with getting Barajas behind the plate. He has not caught on back-to-back games yet and until he is 100%, the club will likely hold onto Eric Fryer, who they recalled as an emergency catcher.
Bedard Struggling Since May
Erik Bedard was impressive in his first month as a Pittsburgh Pirate. The lefty sported a 2.48 ERA, not allowing more than two runs in any of his first five starts. But since exiting his outing with an injury early on May 9, Bedard has seen his ERA jump to 4.57 on the season.
The numbers aren’t pretty for Bedard over his last nine starts. Since exiting his start against Washington with back spasms, the left-hander has a 7.44 ERA over his last 47.2 innings, which included a five run outing on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis.
Bedard was hurt by the long ball over his first three innings of the game. Yadier Molina took an 0-2 fastball left over the plate for a solo-homer to left field in the second inning. The second dinger came in the next frame.
A leadoff single up the right side for Matt Carpenter set up the two-run shot in the third. With one out, Allen Craig crushed a home run off the lefty.
Two more runs scored off Bedard in the fifth frame, ending his outing after just 4.2 innings. Both runs that scored came from a walk (hit batter, intentional). Matt Holliday ripped a RBI double and Shane Robinson connected for a RBI single with two-outs. Reliever Chris Resop got the final out of the inning to leave two stranded.
Overall, Bedard allowed five runs on eight hits over 4.2 innings. He walked two and struck out five while throwing 100 pitches, 64 strikes. Bedard racked up his career 1,000th strikeout in the first inning — a 3-2 cutter to get Holliday looking.
Alvarez Exits Game Early with Leg Injury
Pedro Alvarez was replaced by Eric Fryer as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning after leading off with a single. Alvarez told Michael Sanserino of the Post-Gazette that it was a right leg cramp, which he felt tighten up on him out of the batters box. The injury was likely caused by the high temperatures in St. Louis.
With Rod Barajas (bone bruise) and Andrew McCutchen (left wrist sprain) day-to-day with injuries left on the bench, Manager Clint Hurdle had to do shuffling on the field. Josh Harrison was moved to play third, Eric Fryer made his Major League debut in left and Drew Sutton moved to play second base.
Alvarez went 2-for-3 with a walk on the day.