The day after combining to score 22 runs, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox put up another 16 runs on Saturday evening.
It was a promising first inning for Vince Velasquez, who got through the inning on only 13 pitches with a single and one strikeout. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Andrew McCutchen doubled to right field, and then scored on a Carlos Santana single for an early 1-0 lead.
Velasquez quickly ran into trouble in the second, and almost got out of it after a double-play, but a RBI single would tie the game up at one. Things quickly unraveled come the third inning, when he couldn’t find the strike zone. The White Sox ended up scoring four runs in the evening and finished Velasquez’s evening with two outs in the third. Chase De Jong entered and collected the final out of the inning.
The Pirates closed the gap to 5-2 on a Bryan Reynolds sac-fly in the third, and the White Sox eventually got the run back in the fifth against De Jong who ended up pitching 2.2 innings himself.
Trying to make things interesting, the Pirates again closed the gap in the bottom of the fifth to 6-4, following a McCutchen sac-fly followed by another Santana RBI single.
The bullpen was holding the game intact until the seventh inning when it quickly got out of hand. Working into his second inning of the night, Rob Zastryzny struck out one of the four hitters he faced in the seventh, with the other three combining for three hits and a run scored. Duane Underwood Jr. entered the game to put the flames out with one out and runners on the corners, but instead he gave up singles to the first three batters he faced before getting the next two to ground out. The game was now 11-4.
Jose Hernandez would pitch the final two innings for the Pirates, and have a very strong showing. He threw 15 of 21 pitches for strikes, sitting down all six batters he faced to go with his two strikeouts. I’m not sure if it’s enough to move him into higher leverage situations yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.
To close the night out, being the gentleman he is, McCutchen gave fans one last thing to cheer about when he connected on his first home run of the season for the final score of 11-5.
Bullpens are going to have nights off, and it is a bit of a rag-tag group of relievers.
One interesting item I had noticed over the last two games; the Pirates haven’t been striking out much. It may just be happenstance, but Lucas Giolito and Mike Clevinger also aren’t run-of-the-mill starters. Friday evening, the Pirates only struck out eight times, with four of those unfortunately coming from Jack Suwinski. In Saturday’s game, the Pirates only struck out six total times in the game. Hopefully it’s a sign of hitter maturation with the younger kids.
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.
I’m just going to watch a Bangles music video every time the Bucs lose. So I feel I win either way.
I just read that Velasquez described his two starts as “mediocre”
Wonder what horrible looks like?
From Statcast – 6 Swings and Miss from Jose Hernandez is a VG sign.
‘Cutch HR was 100.9 mph, 350′. 3 hits & 2 RBI. Leaders last night –
Cruz 113.3 mph, Single
Castro 108.2 mph, Double, 391’. Good to see 2 H and a Walk, No K’s
Santana 103.4 mph, Single. 3 hits & 2 RBI
Hayes 102.7 mph, FO
Reynolds 102 mph, SF, 383′
Reynolds 101.5 mph, GO
The Pirates have the bats, and they also played errorless defense again. Inconsistencies will have to be expected from a team that is rebuilding. Pitching, pitching, pitching!
Pirates- 60 SB, 32CS, SB percentage of 65% in 2022. 10 SB, 1 CS, SB percentage of 91% in first 8 games of 2023. The old Rule of Thumb for stealing bases was 80% – that will definitely increase this year.
Ive heard SB numbers of 85-88% league wide this year. Also an interesting tid bit that after the first pickoff, leads increased 1-2 ft and runners were 100% and after second pickoff, lead increased even more and runners were 100%. Just for a few games but interesting to track!
Rough game but I like the silver lining take on the strike out issues. Let’s hope Suwinski can become part of the larger positive trend, eh?
They didn’t strike out as many times in large part BECAUSE Suwinski didn’t play. He’s a strike out machine right now and needs to play every day if he has any chance of figuring it out. It’s not going to happen if he’s sitting on the bench, and he can’t be in the lineup every day in Pittsburgh until he starts making better contact.
It doesn’t take a genius to know he should be in Indy or Altoona playing every game and working on his swing. I’m not advocating for Swaggerty yet because that’s not going to happen due to service time issues. Marcano’s hot and can play outfield as well as second base so Bae can play center but, whatever it might be, a change is needed because this isn’t working and isn’t fair to anyone especially Suwinski.
All those runs being scored yet we play the defense in in the 3rd inning.
Pirates suffered some BABIP bad luck tonight. Sox hitters found holes, Pirates hitters didn’t.
Not reading too much more into this game than that.
If early trends hold true, which they may well not, it looks to me like the Pirates have half to two-thirds of a good team, along with some serious holes, many of which BC either created or declined to fill during the offseason. It’s too soon, but at some point they’re going to need to start giving chances to different folks. That, in turn, means making some calls, like ditching tenured veterans without waiting, and waiting, and waiting for some drunken GM to pick up some of their salaries. Or sending down young guys who aren’t living up to the FO’s and mgr’s fantasies. That’s where we really find out whether they’re still in don’t-give-a-s*** mode.
If they’re serious about winning, they’ll sign Reynolds. They have have no OF prospects ready NOW to take over his spot in the lineup that can produce at his level. Looking into the future, is there an OF in the system that projects to match his production two years from now?
Dylan Crews, if they take him at 1-1, but why trade Reynolds if you can add another outfielder who could get to the show in a hurry.
No, not remotely.
How they deal with poor performance is certainly a litmus test for how serious they are about trying to compete this year. First decision is not going to be Hill or VV, it will be what they do with Jack if he keeps whiffing at 50+% for much longer.
One takeaway from today: cruz’s approach has wielded fantastic K and BB numbers, but I wonder if it is taking away from his ability to do damage. Super SS but his barrels and hard hit rate are not promising so far. Will need him to pick it up to carry the load once reynolds inevitably comes back to earth a little bit
My initial thoughts were that it could be situational, but I probably wouldn’t read much into it until they have a solid month under their belt.
FG has a very enticing, I-want-to-believe type piece that starts off with Cruz:
Sometimes his strength is a weakness. For example, his 1st AB he hit a handle shot that looked off the bat to be a flair that would fall between SS and LF, but instead was a medium depth fly out to LF.
True, two sides to every coin, but I’ll take that tradeoff. He can lose a couple would-be flairs for outs, and have a few would-be cans o’ corn on pitches where he got fooled a little bit leave the yard instead.