Two-out hits hurt the Pirates on both sides of the ball on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. The Brewers did their damage from two-out knocks off Erik Bedard, while Pittsburgh wasn’t able to capitalize on two-out hitting. Six of the seven runs the pitching staff surrendered game with two-outs, while the Bucs stranded eight of their 12 batters after attempting to rally back with two-outs.
“There is nothing better than getting a two-out hit with runners in scoring position, and there’s nothing that stings you as much as giving up one,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “At the end of the series, we weren’t able to capitalize on two-out situations and they did…They added five today with two outs. Two-outs and nobody on and the inning gets away from us.”
That proved to be true as the club lost 2-of-3 against Milwaukee, which continues the club’s August woes to post just a 9-15 record.
Bedard looked sharp over his first three innings of work. Coming off a win the night before from solid pitching, the Pirates were looking to build upon that success and carry it over and get a winning streak going. But the fourth and fifth inning damage with two-outs was the separator in the game.
“I made some good pitches early, and then they started hitting the ball around,” Bedard said. “They just started hitting and put some runs on the board. It’s just the way it goes.”
Bedard gave up back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth inning. Corey Hart connected for the first hit, which was the first allowed from Bedard. He had allowed just two base runners (two walks) over his previous 3.2 frames. Carlos Gomez made the lefty pay by taking the first pitch curveball and depositing it into the seats in left field for a three run homer.
“If he didn’t swing, it was going to hit the dirt,” Bedard said. “You just got to keep working, doing your work, going out there and try to get them out…You just got to keep battling. You don’t want to give up two-out hits but it happens.”
The left-hander dished up a second long ball in the fifth with two outs — a second three-run shot, this time to Aramis Ramirez — before Manager Clint Hurdle called upon Kevin Correia for long relief.
“The changeup ends up hung out over the plate to Ramirez, who hits the homer,” Hurdle said. “Before that, the breaking ball to Gomez was just a breaking ball that was up in the path of the bat. It was just two soft pitches that weren’t located very well. The situations with two-outs was the big separator for us. It’s been a separator for us for a while.”
The series loss comes at a tough point in the season and their schedule. St. Louis comes to Pittsburgh to open up a three-game series on Monday. The Pirates sit currently 1.5 games back of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.
“One at a time,” Travis Snider said of the series. “Obviously there’s a lot riding on it, but the focus will remain on tomorrow and tomorrow only.”
“We’ve got to play better to win,” Hurdle said. “And they know that. There’s nobody that knows it better than them. I try to keep things simple. We need to pitch better, we need to take advantage of opportunities on offense, and get some rhythm going. At the end of the day, it’s not real complicated. We’ve got to get it done.
“I would not say we’re not focused. I wouldn’t say that’s an accurate statement. We’re just not playing well. Everybody went up there with intent and purpose. Sometimes when you don’t do things you don’t look focused, you don’t even look like you’re trying sometimes. But there’s intent, there’s focus, there’s preparation. We’ve just got wrong results. We’re just not getting it done as far as the execution part of it.”
Pirates Continue to Be Aggressive On Market
The Pirates continue to look outside the organization for upgrades to improve the current club. With blockbuster deals, like the one that happened yesterday between Los Angeles and Boston, the Pirates have made just one waiver claim since the trading deadline ended.
But despite the results, General Manager Neal Huntington said they continue to be aggressive placing claims, but some have just not worked out, or were claimed from a team in front of them.
“We still continue to place claims on players,” Huntington said. “We still continue to not get players because they get claimed in front of us. Takahashi is an example of the one player that we were able to claim and acquire. We’ve had another number of players that we claimed and not been able to reach deals with, or players are just not available. We continue to place claims.”
“We’ll continue to look. If we don’t add anybody else, we still feel good about where we are, and we feel good about the guys that we have coming on September 1st to help push us to the playoffs.”
Jeff Karstens (right groin) was evaluated clinically on Wednesday before the game, and also went out on a flush run before the game. The team deemed him healthy, and didn’t need to place him on the disabled list.
“We have a little bit more leeway,” Huntington said. “It looks like Jeff is going to be okay. It certainty feels less irradiated than when he had to miss a start when he was coming back from his rehab. We’ll know a lot more when he has to go throw his side. We’ve got some flexibility, some versatility going forward with the roster expansion on September 1st. We’ve got some protection. Obviously Kevin [Correia] can step in and start at any time if we need him.”
Jose Tabata was not in the lineup today, but was healthy enough to get the start after also undergoing evaluations. Hurdle elected to be careful with the outfielder. Tabata did have a pinch-hit at-bat.
“He seemed okay,” Huntington said. “Clint did not want to run him out in lineup, but he passed his clinical exam in the training room and his on field exam, so he’s okay. He probably could have started, but Clint chose to be a little bit careful with it.”
“I anticipate that unless something changes overnight that we will be able to have him in play tomorrow,” Hurdle said after the game.
Chad Qualls was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game on Wednesday due to irritation of his left big toe. The move was retroactive to when he last pitched on Saturday.
“It’s one of those situations where it’s affected him, and we need 25 healthy guys,” Huntington said. “It was impacting him, and we made a move. It’s a challenge. Obviously it takes Chad out for 13 days now. But we’ll get him healthy, get him back out and he can help us here in September.”
Scouting Reports Have Changed Dramatically Since Hurdle First Started Managing
During Hurdle’s pregame media session on Wednesday, the skipper was asked about Mark Rogers, who faced the Pirates. Hurdle presumed to open up his scouting book on the right-hander, and unlike with football, where you would never be able to see the reports, Hurdle flipped through the pages and explained what it was all about.
“We highlight tendencies, we show velocities,” Hurdle said. And if a player was recently in Triple-A? “We will sprinkle some in if it’s recent. If it’s a guy that’s been up here a year, probably not. In this guy’s case we did grab a couple.”
Hurdle said the books have changed over the years since he became Manager.
“I started compiling my own book in the early 90’s, gosh,” Hurdle recalled. “I did my own book. And it’s changed dramatically. Now the information you get and different type of stats you keep, I mean we use heat indexes for defensive coverage’s, for pitcher strike zone framing. Its incredible stuff.”
Depending on the player, Hurdle said, some will come into his office and look over the book. Others watch video. And some players rely on what they see when it’s game time.
“Some guys, they want to see the video,” Hurdle said. “It depends on what kind of learner they are. Some guys learn by reading. Some of [them] learn visually. Some, the video would be a better mix. Some of it’s all about feel, and doing it yourself. We’ve got the three different types of learning and we try and incorporate that, and find out what works. We don’t want to overload any one guy in any one certain area. This book is available. There was a number of guys that gravitated to it. But there’s guys that focus on video work pre and post. It’s a mixed bag.”
“Probably somewhere in between,” Jeff Clement, who got his first start of the 2012 season today said on where he falls. “I think that sometimes that if you pay too much attention to a scouting report then you can get into your own head. Mainly I go based on what I see that day, how it looks to different hitters, especially left-handed hitters for me personally. I’m going to pay attention to what he’s doing and go up there and be ready.”