By Chad Carlson
|Photo Credit: http://www.wickphotography.com/|
It’s March 27, with a little less than a week left in Spring Training, and I have yet to be negative about the Pirates. I’ve been objective in my analysis of individual players and the Bucs as a whole, but I haven’t been negative. After today’s 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, I have to break my streak here this spring and come down pretty hard on the Pirates.
This was just one of those frustrating afternoons for a Pirates’ fan…and of course, it was aired on MLB Network for all to see. They managed eight hits on the afternoon, three of which came off of Phillies’ starter Cliff Lee, who pitched six scoreless innings. The hits came from Alex Presley, Andrew McCutchen, Eric Fryer, Nick Evans, and Casey McGehee, as well as Pedro Alvarez. Wait, before anyone gets excited about Pedro, no this wasn’t a coming out party for the third baseman.
In fact, it was more of the same debacle that has Pirates’ fans pulling their hair out over this guy. He went 1-4 on the day with three strikeouts, including an at-bat with two runners on base and one out in the seventh inning. He was called out on strikes. Garrett Jones struck out after Alvarez to end the threat.
Making things even more excruciating was Pedro’s fielding error in the third inning, as well as Jake Fox’s error in the second. All aspects of Alvarez’s game are on the rocks at this point. For a guy with this much pedigree, it is astonishing to see him struggle this mightily in all areas of the game.
The Pirates used a total of eight pitchers today, collectively giving up five runs on twelve hits. Chris Resop, in a spot he’ll never find himself in a game that matters, started this afternoon, surrendering two runs on three hits in two innings, while striking out three batters. Daniel McCutchen, following his horrendous outing last week against the Tigers, gave up a run on a pair of hits in the fourth inning, while Ryota Igarashi also gave up a run, coming in the sixth inning. Daniel Moskos gave up the walkoff homerun in the bottom of the ninth to the Phillies’ Scott Podsednik.
Bright spots? Hmm…well Joel Hanrahan and Chris Leroux each tossed a scoreless inning. But in the regular season, if the Bucs can’t score runs, Hanarahan will leave his jacket on in the bullpen. Not much point in a closer when you can’t score runs to obtain any type of a lead. From an offensive standpoint today, however, the Bucs did manage a couple of runs in the eighth inning. Nick Evans’ RBI single scored Nate McLouth and Eric Fryer’s RBI double scored Evans to make things interesting at 4-2. McGehee hammered a double next, scoring Fryer.
Later in the game with the score tied 4-4, Pedro Alvarez walked to the plate with a chance to be the hero. Spring Training game or not, this was an opportunity for Pedro to give his team the lead. So what happened? He was called out on strikes.
I realize this is Spring Training, and I know the Bucs were facing a Philadelphia Phillies’ starter in Cliff Lee, and I know they weren’t sending a starting pitcher out to the mound themselves, but this was an utterly frustrating game to watch for this Pirates’ fan. While they did make a comeback in the eighth inning and put a string of hits together, the production from the everyday players was absent. Sure, it’s nice to see Evans and Fryer come through, but the guys we need to see production from, most particularly Pedro, didn’t come through.
With the loss, the Pirates fell to 8-15 in Grapefruit League play. Again, while wins and losses don’t matter at this point, it continues to leave a bad taste in the mouth of this Pirates’ fan.
Well after my rant, I feel a little better. As for the Pirates, they face the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow night at 7:05pm.
Grapefruit League Record: 8-15
Let’s Go Bucs!