After Indianapolis put up ten runs on Norfolk last night, I looked down the side of the boxscore and noticed all of the high averages on the team. They had seven guys batting over .280 last night and if you throw in the earlier production from Jose Osuna and Max Moroff, you would have an entire lineup of .280+ hitters who played for the team this year.
The Indians are leading the International League in hits, doubles, triples, OPS and batting average. They have more doubles than the two worst teams combined and more triples than the bottom three teams. They are also doing it now without Osuna, who has been up in the majors for the last eight days. He was leading the league in OPS when he was called up to Pittsburgh, but he no longer has enough plate appearances to qualify for that lead.
The amount of doubles they are hitting feels like it’s a record pace. They have four guys who are in the top ten in the league with Eric Wood at 13, Osuna 12, Kevin Newman 11 and Jacob Stallings with ten. They also have two guys just outside the top ten with nine doubles each, Christopher Bostick and Austin Meadows.
In fact, the only thing they aren’t doing is hitting a lot of homers. Actually they aren’t drawing many walks either, but they are second in the league in OBP, so that’s off-set by the high average for now. The homers are a more telling stat though, because with all of the great hitting stats they are putting up this year, they are fourth in runs scored in the league. The team has hit just 17 homers, good (or bad in this case?) for 12th in the 14-team league.
It’s not a team on paper that looks like they would only have 17 homers after 35 games, so that probably won’t be an issue all year. You expect Austin Meadows, Kevin Kramer, Eric Wood and Jordan Luplow to hit more homers. Guys like Jerrick Suiter and Ryan Lavarnway have shown power in the past, but combined with Jacob Stallings and Erich Weiss, plus the at-bats from Max Moroff and the recently traded Todd Cunningham, that group of six players hasn’t hit a single homer. They have played 35 games, so that’s not a small sample size when looking at a group of players. It’s actually 327 at-bats.
It’s an offense that clearly has a lot of positives without the key over-the-fence power aspect. I didn’t even mention the top of the order Kevin Newman and Meadows combo going 14-for-16 in steals, plus the team ranking second best in strikeouts. They might be getting a power boost soon if Jason Martin keeps hitting the way he has since Opening Day with Altoona. Then they would be a well-rounded club providing depth for the majors as the season reach the 1/4 point.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 7-0 over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. The Pirates will send Jameson Taillon to the mound for his ninth start today. He went three shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants in his last start before leaving with a finger laceration. The White Sox scheduled starter is left-hander Hector Santiago, who threw a shutout inning against the Pirates last week. He has a 5.60 ERA in 27.1 innings this season, with 25 strikeouts and a 1.68 WHIP.
The minor league schedule includes Taylor Hearn trying to build off of an outing in which he gave up one hit and one run over five innings. In his previous three starts combined, he surrendered 16 runs over 15.1 innings. JT Brubaker makes his second start for Indianapolis. He threw six shutout innings in his debut. Bradenton has a morning start time and a doubleheader with lefty Oddy Nunez on the mound in one game and James Marvel scheduled for the other. West Virginia has off today. Their game yesterday against Lakewood was canceled due to weather. The two teams don’t play again during the first half of the season, so it won’t be made up at a later date.
MLB: Pittsburgh (24-17) vs White Sox (10-28) 12:35 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (4.08 ERA, 35:12 SO/BB, 39.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (19-16) @ Norfolk (19-16) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (0.00 ERA, 2:1 SO/BB, 6.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (19-16) vs Richmond (20-17) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Taylor Hearn (5.17 ERA, 32:12 SO/BB, 31.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (19-17) vs Daytona (23-13) 10:30 AM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (4.09 ERA, 21:12 SO/BB, 33.0 IP) and James Marvel (4.31 ERA, 30:12 SO/BB, 39.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (22-14) vs Lexington (17-18) 7:05 PM 5/17 (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (3.82 ERA, 30:9 SO/BB, 33.0 IP)
From Monday in Altoona, two homers. First, Will Craig’s fourth of the season
Next is Jason Martin’s fifth.
5/14: Jin-De Jhang assigned to Altoona. Jackson Williams assigned to Morgantown.
5/14: Josh Harrison assigned to Altoona on rehab.
5/12: Joe Musgrove assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
5/10: JT Brubaker promoted to Indianapolis. Nick Kingham assigned to Altoona
5/10: Sergio Cubilete activated from disabled list. Jacob Taylor placed on West Virginia disabled list.
5/9: Brett McKinney placed on the Indianapolis disabled list
5/8: Pirates recall Jose Osuna
5/7: Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis
5/7: Sam Street released
5/7: Wyatt Mathisen promoted to Indianapolis. Logan Ratledge assigned to Altoona.
5/7: Joe Musgrove assigned to Altoona.
5/5: Braeden Ogle placed on West Virginia disabled list. Gavin Wallace activated from DL.
5/4: Pedro Vasquez promoted to Altoona. Sean Keselica assigned to Morgantown.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two teammates born on the same day. Mitch Webster was an outfielder for the 1991 Pirates and his teammate that year was pitcher Bob Patterson. Both players were born on May 16,1959. Webster played just one season for the Pirates, while Patterson played six years in Pittsburgh, including all three playoff seasons from 1990 until 1992. He pitched 207 games for the Pirates, 21 as a starter, posting a 3.97 ERA in 331 innings.
Other players born on this date include two very good pitchers from the 1980’s. Rick Reuschel and Rick Rhoden both celebrate their birthday today. Rhoden played eight seasons in Pittsburgh and had a very small part during the 1979 World Series winning season. He went 79-73, 3.51 in 213 starts and two relief appearances during his time in Pittsburgh. Known as a very good hitting pitcher, he batted .251 for the Pirates and was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter.
Reuschel played three years for the Pirates and had a great season in 1985, despite the Pirates losing 104 games that year. He finished the year with a 14-8 record, thanks in part to a 2.27 ERA in 194 innings. Reuschel won 214 games over his 19 seasons in the Majors, while Rhoden had 151 victories.
The first time the Braves franchise and the Pirates franchise played each other was on this date in 1887. The Boston Beaneaters took that first game by a 6-2 score. Old Hoss Radbourn out-dueled Jim McCormick for the win. Between them, they won 574 Major League games. In the all-time series, the Pirates hold a 1,106-1,025 edge, with the two teams playing to a tie 16 times.