Pedro Alvarez is crushing right-handers, but struggles against lefties. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Offense Goes Flat Again in 4-1 Loss to Cubs

Charlie Morton

Charlie Morton pitched through traffic successfully (7 hits in 6 innings), but couldn’t solve Alfonso Soriano.

Pedro Alvarez hit a home run for the Pirates, his 22nd of the year, but Alfonso Soriano hit two home runs for the Cubs, his 11th and 12th, to raise the “W” flag in Chicago 4-1.

The goal for Charlie Morton is to give up as few hard-hits as possible. In his successful 2011 season, Morton had the lowest home run rate for any pitcher in the NL: 6 home runs in 172 innings. Those two home runs allowed to Soriano, widely known as a free-swinger and excellent low-pitch hitter, were mistake pitches and Morton probably knows it. Still, those are just the first two home runs he has given up in 24 innings of work, which is a real positive. Shake it off and get more ground balls.

Credit to Edwin Jackson and the Cubs’ bullpen. Jackson has not pitched nearly as poorly as his 5.50 earned run average would have you believe, even those it is one of the worst ERAs in the league. He still strikes out a lot of hitters and is due for a regression back to his true talent level as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Alvarez cranked out a homer off him, because that’s what All-Star Pedro Alvarez does. Otherwise, the Cubs gave up only four other hits: two to All-Star Andrew McCutchen and two to future All-Star Starling Marte.

The Pirates went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, so there were certainly missed opportunities. But one day after Francisco Liriano and the Bucs produce a fine all-around game, it was frustrating to see the offense flounder like it has tended to do in certain games. Michael McKenry allowing a pair of stolen bases did not help matters.

It’s not a bad lineup, just a below-average one, and more performances like Saturday’s will make it Neal Huntington’s duty to add an upgrade. A.J. Burnett takes the mound tomorrow, and boy does it seem like he is on his game at Wrigley Field. The Pirates ought to wrap up a series victory.

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James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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  • emjayinTN

    James: I have to give you credit, you found a way to put this out in as positive a manner as possible. I shut the game off. The Pirates had ample chances early to put pressure on Jackson, but did not. His pitch count was way up early and Marte got to 3B with 1 out and ‘Cutch at the plate. With the infield drawn in and Jackson throwing BP, McCutchen grounded weakly to SS. The next time up Marte gets on, steals second and then gets thrown out trying to steal 3rd with only one out and Walker and McCutchen due up. Stupid baseball. Morton struggled all day, pitching in and out of jams just about every inning. After Alvarez gave him a 1-0 lead, he promptly went out and started leaving everything up and in the middle of the plate and was lucky to only be down 2-1 after that inning. The next inning out he walked the first batter and I walked away from the TV. The Pirates were sleepwalking. Marte was the bright light in his first two AB’s and getting into scoring position, but we were unable to get to Jackson who was missing badly. Saying that McKenry allowed 2 SB’s is extremely nice – the first one he threw into right center field missing 2B by about 15 feet, and allowing the runner to get to 3rd. Morton pitched out of it. I was baffled by the lineup in that Russell Martin was given the day off, and Snider was on the bench even though a RHP was on the mound. These are games where Walker, McCutchen, and Jones have to step up and be leaders – without Martin on the field, the team seemed to be unable to find the course necessary to win the game. Alvarez and Marte did their parts, but very little help from anyone else in the order when it mattered.

  • skliesen

    It was a bad day for the Bucs all the way around. Score could’ve been much worse. Hopefully, Marte’s neck and Walker’s side are ok for tomorrow. That was one ugly collision on Marte’s first SB.

    Not sold on Morton. He is so inconsistent. I’m beginning to think Gomez may be a better fit for our 5th starter.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    I guess we have to go through the whole prcess again of the Pirates realizing that Tabata sucks and should not be out there.

    I sure hope Andrew Lambo is given a shot at right field soon. Soon!!!

  • Monsoon Harvard

    Also, Walker needs to work on his hitting. He’s the number one rally-killer right now.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    The Pirates offense did nothing to help him. but Morton gives me zero confidence. He pitched okay today, but he seems to lack confidence in his stuff and nibbles too much. He is an exasperating pitcher to watch. I sure hope he gets dropped from the rotation. He’s the same guy 2 years ago.

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