The Pirates went into Monday’s game at Coors Field with a 9-7 record, but a 7-9 Pythagorean record due to their -5 run differential. Not that run differential outweighs wins and losses, but there is something to the notion that a good team will really beat up on other teams now and then.
So the Pirates addressed that “concern” with a 14-3 drubbing of the Colorado Rockies.
The game wasn’t in doubt for long. Andrew McCutchen put the Pirates up, 1-0, in the first with home run number three. Then in the second, the Bucs piled up six runs while the Rockies looked like the 2020-22 Pirates.
It wasn’t exactly vintage Coors, with baseballs flying out left and right. The Pirates got their first two runs with one single, thanks to a walk, an error and the Rockies’ failure to get anybody on a Ji-Hwan Bae squeeze bunt. Three more singles, a run-scoring force play and a double steal by Bae and Austin Hedges led to four more.
And so it went. The Pirates got two more in the third and four in the fifth. The two in the third finished a miserable day for Rockies’ starter Kyle Freeland, who’s a pretty good pitcher. The final run came on a bomb in the ninth by Jack Suwinski (On the road! But off a position player . . .), who’d come in to replace Bryan Reynolds. Yes, the Pirates got to take some of their regulars out. It was Suwinski’s second of the year.
Rich Hill had the kind of start the Pirates were no doubt hoping to see a lot of. He gave up some runners early. In fact, Colorado put their first two runners on second and third, but Hill worked out of it, ultimately getting Elias Diaz to hit into a double play with the bases loaded.
Colorado got a run in the sixth on a solo shot by Kris Bryant, but that was all against Hill. He gave up six hits, half of them to Bryant, walked two and — the unexpected part — fanned seven. Hill finished on a good note, striking out two in a 1-2-3 sixth.
To follow Hill, Derek Shelton, always solicitous of his veterans, went with Wil Crowe even though he had a bullpen full of pitchers who didn’t blow yesterday’s game and could use some work. Crowe faced nine batters and let five of them reach base. He was rescued in the seventh thanks to a double play nicely turned by Mark Mathias. In the eighth, Crowe gave up two runs.
Jose Hernandez came on to get the last two outs of the eighth, then pitched around a couple singles in the ninth. Hernandez threw 18 of 21 pitches for strikes, so he seems to be making progress on that front.
The Pirates finished with 16 hits and struck out only four times. The only hits for extra bases were the two longballs and a double by Rodolfo Castro. Every starter except Connor Joe had a hit. Mathias had a big day, going 4-for-5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Reynolds, McCutchen and Carlos Santana each had two hits. Hayes and Santana each drove in three. Bae, who just seems to be around when things happen, had only one hit, but scored three times and drove in two runs, all of it before the hit.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.
7 Quality Starts in a row by the starters.
I thought the rotation would be the team’s strong point, then Brubaker got hurt and most of the others had bad starts early, and it looked like it’d be a weakness. Now it looks like a strong point again. Sure hope everybody stays . . . uh, not going to say it.
Really looking forward to what Oviedo has tonight, to see if he can keep it going. If his command is on, he’s really tough to hit.
I thought Vinnie Velo was on the hill tonight?
No matter whose on the bump, let’s keep this thing rolling
That’s certainly part of it, but also that good teams rarely lose non-competitive games because of the depth in their pens. That hasn’t been true the last few years but hopefully this year we won’t see many games where 3-run deficits quickly turn into 7-run deficits because we only have 2-3 reliable arms in the pen.
The Pirates are maybe three arms short. Crowe, De Jong and the Zazzer certainly aren’t them. Crowe didn’t just have one bad outing. He’s been mostly bad since the middle of last season.
They need to start sorting through guys like Ramirez. I’m not a fan, but he was dominating for Indy. They’re going to have to start giving people opportunities or the sorting will never happen. Nobody is going to come up from Indy with a guarantee of ML success. The sorting can only happen in the majors.
It’d have to be late in the year at the earliest.
Cederlind was supposedly OK this spring. Apparently not. Has to be another setback. At this point I don’t really expect to see him again.
Sooner or later this run of QS’s will go away and the pen will begin to get exposed. Guys like Mlod & Bolton are probably better options than DeJong and Crowe.
They’re going to need another lefty, as they can’t in good faith rely on a Rule 5 arm as their only lefty.
It’s not against the rules to make a baseball trade. I’m sure the Phillies or other teams could use Choi.
I’m not sure anyone can use Choi right now. Seeing as he’s hurt.
Will be interesting to see where we stand as the season goes on and what they decide to do with the vets. I wonder what the balance will be of flipping vets that are providing the backbone of the team (as of now at least) vs keeping them for the season while missing the chance to get any return value
Perdomo had a real opening here, but he’s tanked it.
Zamora? Is that the other LHP down in Indy?
I dunno. The guy throws about 70% sliders. The three-batter rule may be a death blow for him.
I thought Samaniego might be an answer pretty soon, but they’re obviously not sold or he wouldn’t be in Altoona.
anybody here think Hill would accept an assignment to the bullpen?
Let’s talk about the hidden value the Pirates are getting from Bae and Castro. Maybe not so hidden with Bae, with circus catches and all.
Castro today had the powerful throw on the DP. On the squeeze bunt, I was kinda unfair to the Rox. Freeland made a great play, but Castro beat it by coming full tilt down the line.
How many people do you think could accurately guess that Jack Suwinski has been more valuable than Bae in almost half as many at bats?
I don’t necessarily buy into WAR, especially in a SS like this.
And I don’t necessarily buy into a few flashy plays making up for the bulk of performance. To each their own.
Wonder how many folks would guess Bae is one strikeout from matching Suwinski’s k-rate? And has a higher swinging strike rate?
Wonder how many would guess that bWAR has Bae as 3x more valuable and WPA rates him much more highly? Actually, probably most.
It’s mostly statistical noise at this point, depending heavily on exactly which plays your system assigns the most weight to. fWAR has Roansy second among Pirates’ pitchers despite a 5.24 xFIP. Noise.
I gotta be a little critical of WTM regarding this biased quote:
“He was rescued in the seventh thanks to a double play nicely turned by Mark Mathias.”
In my unbiased opinion, it should have read more like:
“He was rescued in the seventh thanks to a double play nicely turned by Mark Mathias, and Rodolfo Castro, who took the fairly routine feed from Mathias, and made an exquisite throw with authority to get the runner at first…”
Just my opinion.
When I rewatched the play, it did occur to me that Castro’s throw was a key part of getting two. Statcast had his arm at 79 last year (no rating yet this year). Not Cruz territory but very strong still.
While Castro’s turn and throw were very good, I thought the range and stop by Mathias were the most surprising part of the play — at least to me, as I’ve been anxious to see how good Mathias is with the glove.
(Technically, I would have described it as being STARTED by Mathias, and TURNED by Castro. ymmv.)
Oh, not to take away from Mathias’ outstanding play.
Factor-in my love for Rodolfo Castro, and his throw becomes…..sublime.
14-3 win and you still figured out a way to question a Derek Shelton move.
I admire your consistency
Well, we haven’t heard much on the Andy Haines front lately. That narrative has quietly died…for now.
Crowe had just pitched the day before.
This was clearly a spot where Yohan Ramirez and Jose Hernandez should have covered the last 3 innings.
DS got it half right.
I’m sure Shelton was thinking that it was good to get Crowe right back at there to help wash the bad taste from his mouth. That’s logical, but it was also a perfect opportunity to give Ramirez and Hernandez innings, as you say, and I feel certain that the plan was to get Crowe the 3-inning save and only Crowe’s poor pitching led to Hernandez getting some work.
Right now, I think Crowe is the last pitcher I want to see come into a game, though Ramirez has to win back the trust I had in him at the end of last season.
Technically most Crowe appearances are him trying to get “the bad taste from his mouth” from a prior meltdown.
I didn’t think about the 3 inning save. That’s probably exactly it, since Crowe had one of those earlier.
I think it was a good move, use up Crowe’s arm here where he can’t hurt the team. Save the other arms for when it matters. Crowe just isn’t very good, he had a good 2 months when first moved to the bullpen but was lousy before and after.
Gotta say though… Crowe did pitch the day before and, with a lead, it is probably a very good time to put him back out there and un-funk his stuff. Something about putting a good pitcher back on the horse.
I don’t see that as a bad move, but an opportunity to turn someone around.
Nor do I see it as a slam against the manager, but a statement of fact by Walcott, who is not throwing haymakers, but being clever…. and truthful.
I would bet there is something being worked on with the pitcher.
Funny, I point out that the Pirates did something good teams have to do, that Hill and Mathias had big days, that Bae does good things even when he doesn’t hit, that Austin Hedges stole a base, that R5 guy is making progress, but this is what gets all the attention. Triggered much?
Personally, I think the only way Crowe should be used on this team at this point is: traded for a Primanti’s sandwich, or on a DFA list
Okrent’s Law: The pursuit of balance can sometimes produce imbalance because sometimes something is true
If I wanted sunny-side-up coverage I’d be logging onto Pirates.com every day. Keep it up Wilbur (although I disagree here: using Crowe for multi-innings in a blowout is actually the only way he should be used these days).
Derek Shelton’s managerial record is 152-249 —it’s tough to forget 3 years of highly questionable decisionmaking. We’re off to a great start but it’s fair game to question his moves & size up whether Shelton is up for the job long-term. That’s an underreported part of our bridge year so far.
It’s early, but right now Shelton is actually passing the eye test & does make you wonder whether he had a mandate to deliberately (not just passively) lose games for 3 years , which is disturbing but I guess possible . Or maybe he just has a better team so far
I’m with you on Crowe’s usage. His most frequent usage should be up by nine or down by nine.
Also I’m not sure if it was covered here or elsewhere, but Crowe gained 25 pounds over the course of last season. How does that happen unless you’re freebasing Primanti’s?
The writing is on the wall for both he and DeJong.
DeJong has been Ciriaco’d
Wilbur doesn’t pull punches…nor should he.
Wilbur is Jersey Joe Walcott
Yes, Wilbur is an Opinion writer on our beloved fun P2 baseball site, can state what he wants, of course, and he knows a sizeable audience here love it, each there own and good stuff. But Mtgl is a thoughtful poster expressing his opinion which many, like me and includes Joseph Heller, have expressed on occassion that the biases (is that a word🤦♂️) are shown and consistent and worth pointing out. All fun stuff, love the stuff from Wilbur, Mtgl, Catch22, and big fan of your posts SK for sure… the back and forth is the spice of life to me, why im wasting my time responding🤷♂️👍🤣
I for one enjoy and appreciate the back and forth conversation on this site. And thank God for people like Wilbur who are so good at stirring the pot to keep our juices flowing during the long season.
I don’t know if it’s so much of stirring the pot. More like he simply can’t help himself.
Here we are, Pirates are playing better than anyone thought, yet we’re hung up on WTM writing snark.
“we’re hung up on WTM writing snark”
More revealing than you seem to realize.
Oh, I concur and think it’s funny!
I think the Rox are in for a long several years…. Hopefully the Buccos close out this series strong, kick em when they’re down. 👍
Felt especially bad for the kid playing 3b. Kid has no business playing 3b at this level.
Their defense looked horrible. Gotta take advantage of it!
You’d think Rich Hill in Coors would be a horrible decision, given breaking pitches are supposed to have less bite at elevation. Baseball is full of surprises, eh?
I had zero confidence that he will do well there, but he was awesome.
He’s survived to age 127 or whatever. He obviously just somehow gets s*** done. I’m gonna try to avoid counting him out.
My thinking as well. I had the bourbon out readying for a long night. Hill has his shortcomings, but he’s a pro, and showed it last night.
I actually drank more than i had in a long time. Enjoying the length of an offensive outburst game
And here I was expecting to wake up and see double digit runs vs double digit runs. Pleasantly surprised, and very happy with the win!
I just watched that 2nd inning and the hustle!!!!