A.J. Burnett Pirates

Pirates Notebook: ‘Nobody’s Trying to Hit Nobody’

Andrew McCutchen stepped into the batter’s box leading off the bottom of the eighth inning last night, as the Pirates led the Reds 5-2. On a 2-2 pitch, reliever Sam LeCure ran a fastball inside and hit McCutchen on the shoulder.

LeCure was warned by home plate umpire Mark Carlson, and manager Clint Hurdle emerged from the dugout to argue the issue of intent on LeCure’s behalf to hit McCutchen.

A.J. Burnett Pirates

A.J. Burnett will lead the Pirates onto the field tonight as they try to rebound from last night’s loss. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

“I don’t understand a warning, if you’re going to warn, you thought there was intent to hit the guy, you should have thrown the guy out,” Hurdle said. “First time he’d been hit, it’s our guy McCutchen that’d been hit.”

While Hurdle expressed his extreme displeasure with the umpires’ decision to allow LeCure to remain in the game, McCutchen himself sensed no intent from LeCure.

“He was trying to throw it inside,” McCutchen said. “He wasn’t trying to hit me, the intent was to go inside.”

To be fair, the Pirates are a team that throws inside quite frequently themselves. As a result, Pittsburgh has beaned a league-high 67 batters.

Behind the plate, catcher Devin Mesoraco explained the situation as he saw it as a lapse in control from LeCure.

“It’s 2-2, it’s late, we needed to make a pitch in and Sammy just lost it up-and-in,” Mesoraco said. “You don’t want to see that. I think sometimes the bad-blood between the two teams gets overblown. We’re both out there trying to compete.”

And, for a more blunt perspective, take it from second baseman Brandon Phillips who’s had some involvement in this recent spree of hit-batsmen between the Reds and Pirates.

“Nobody’s trying to hit nobody,” Phillips said. “In a situation like that it’s the last thing that crossed my mind.”

Today, A.J. Burnett pitches for the Pirates as they attempt to wash off their collapse in the ninth inning last night.

“He’s pitching tonight, so that’s what we need him to be. He’s got layers of experience, so that always helps. Very competitive. Pitches with an edge,” Hurdle said. “Does all the things you want for a guy going out to pitch a game that can help you stabilize and get back on the right track.”

With Burnett on the mound, who hit an American League-high 19 batters in 2010 and has hit nine hitters this year, things could get testy in the 60 feet between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. If so, Hurdle says the game will take care of it for the Pirates.

“The guy that does wrong gets a mulligan, and nobody else can play,” Hurdle said. “The game has a way of taking care of itself and we let it take care of itself, so that’s the part that I continue to try to share and I get what they say, we just don’t agree.”

Grilli to Close

After Mark Melancon blew a save last night, as well as Wednesday night against San Diego, Hurdle said this afternoon that if a save opportunity presents itself tonight, Jason Grilli will be the one to enter the game. Grilli has not pitched in a save situation since his return from the disabled list.

In addition, Hurdle said Justin Wilson is available tonight alongside the full complement of Pirates relievers. Melancon threw 19 pitches last night, but Hurdle said he and pitching coach Ray Searage communicated with him and that Mark the Shark will be ready to go.

While Melancon’s performance in recent days has been less than ideal, Hurdle isn’t too concerned.

“It’s not like balls are ringing in the alleys and finding the wall. Ball aren’t getting barreled but they’re finding grass. Are batters making a commitment? More of visual commitment to get over the plate,” Hurdle said. “What can we do to combat that? Not to reinvent, but to refine. To adjust. That’s the basis of the conversation we had today.”

Lineups

Pirates

  1. Jose Tabata LF
  2. Neil Walker 2B
  3. Andrew McCutchen CF
  4. Justin Morneau 1B
  5. Marlon Byrd RF
  6. Pedro Alvarez 3B
  7. Russell Martin C
  8. Clint Barmes SS
  9. A.J. Burnett P

Cincinnati

  1. Derrick Robinson CF
  2. Brandon Phillips 2B
  3. Joey Votto 1B
  4. Ryan Ludwick LF
  5. Jay Bruce RF
  6. Zack Cozart SS
  7. Jack Hannahan 3B
  8. Ryan Hanigan C
  9. Homer Bailey P

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Nate Barnes

Nate covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects, and is an English Writing major at the University of Pittsburgh. Nate has covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report, and covered Pitt Men's Basketball, Duquesne Men's Basketball, and Pitt Baseball beats prior to this summer. You can find Nate on Twitter @NateBarnes_ where he'll keep you updated on each and every time Clint Barmes breaks up a no-hit bid with one-out in the third inning of ballgames.

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