PHILADELPHIA — The Pirates are still searching for a leading man.
Second baseman and leadoff hitter Josh Harrison missed the fifth game of what is expected to be a six-week absence on Friday, and the Pirates lost 2-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies for their fourth defeat in five games.
In those five games, the players that have replaced Harrison in the leadoff spot haven’t exactly impressed. Adam Frazier went 0 for 4, Sean Rodriguez went 0 for 4, and then Frazier went 3 for 5, 0 for 4, and 0 for 5. That’s a .136 batting average — not good enough for any spot in the order, but especially a buzz kill for the leadoff spot.
Saturday, manager Clint Hurdle turned back to Rodriguez to try to get that spot going. He doesn’t have a lot of experience there, with 106 career at-bats leading off, and his career .301 OBP and career 25.7 percent K rate don’t suggest that he’ll do gangbusters, but with the rest of the offense out to a pretty hot start, it seems that Hurdle is going to exhaust his options before turning over the entire batting order in search of a solution.
“It hasn’t been one of (Rodriguez’s) strengths as far as seeing pitches, but there have been at-bats where he has seen pitches,” Hurdle said. “I don’t think he’s been given this opportunity very often in his career, either. So, we’ll see what he can do with it.”
The Pirates turned a ridiculous 1-3-4-2-5-8-7 double play on Friday night, when George Kontos picked Rhys Hoskins off first base. Hoskins headed for second and Josh Bell threw to Adam Frazier, who notices Odubel Herrera cheating off third base toward home. Frazier ran across the diamond at Herrera, forcing him toward home and making and underhand toss to Francisco Cervelli to get the out at the plate.
Meanwhile, Hoskins had rounded second and was headed toward third, so Cervelli threw down to Colin Moran, who trapped Hoskins in a second rundown. Moran threw to center fielder Starling Marte, who was covering second, who threw back to left fielder Corey Dickerson for the put out near third base.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 21, 2018
“Marte and Dickerson, I wouldn’t have had that coming in,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “They were paying attention. Their awareness was really good.”
It was the first time Dickerson had tagged a runner out while playing the outfield in his career.
“I’ve been waiting to do one of those,” he said. “I’ve gotten to where the ball almost got to me, but it never has. (Jordy) Mercer was about to jump me and I was like ‘Stay out of the way.’ It’s one of those things, you just try to back up your teammates. … That’s going to look good.”
ON THE MEND
Joe Musgrove will throw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Sunday and if all goes well, he’ll throw a simulated game back in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Musgrove will then make at least one rehab start, and probably more than one, before joining the rotation, likely sometime in mid-May.
Michael Feliz pitched a scoreless seventh inning on Friday. After allowing four runs without recording an out in his first appearance of the season, he’s now thrown 7.1 straight scoreless innings. Feliz has done it throwing his fastball 74.8 percent of the time, which goes against the reputation of the Houston organization he came up in.
That was the focus of my Saturday feature:
Gm 21: ☠ (12-8) at 🔔 (12-7)
SS 🤠@SquidBrault (4.74 ERA) vs. Aaron Nola (2.22)
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) April 21, 2018
We've got a late afternoon first pitch today at Citizens Bank Park with @AaronNola027 on the mound.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) April 21, 2018
It’s sunny, but the wind is still whipping at Citizens Bank Park. As the Phillies take batting practice, it’s blowing slightly in from left field across the outfield toward the right field foul pole. Weather.com forecasts 60 degrees and partly cloudy skies with 10 MPH winds.
Let’s talk life, the Liberty Bell and the pursuit of a perfect cheesesteak. Or just baseball. Either way.