Results tagged ‘ Dodgers ’

‘Road Warriors’ return home looking for imperative wins

ryan-doumit1.jpg

For the past two years Ryan Doumit has been asking for his ticket to be punched out of Pittsburgh. 
A majority of fans would have gladly done it for him. 
Behind the plate his fielding stats have been dismal. His arm, even worse. With a bat in his hands, he’s averaged 12 home runs and a .250 batting average. When Chris Snyder was brought in at the trade deadline, Doumit backfired. He was outspokenly against the acquisition and his numbers declined more so. 
Despite the past, 2011 is a new year. Instead of making his way out of Pittsburgh, Doumit has embraced a platoon role with Snyder. It’s been beneficial to himself and the Buccos. 
His grand slam in the 3rd inning gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead en route to a 7-4 victory. Their 11th road win of the year. 
After tallying just 17 road wins in all of 2010…
Hold on, let me repeat that, 17 measly road wins a year ago, Pittsburgh now leads the majors away from its home park. 
The Bucs have won five road series, one more that 2010. They haven’t come against slouches, either. The Pirates took two out of three from the Cardinals (currently 17-14 and leading the NL Central), three out of four from the Reds (Central champs from a year ago and now in 2nd place in the division), and some more two out of threes from the Cubs, Rockies and Padres. 
In this span, the pitching has continued to dominate with Kevin Correia winning all five of his road starts. 
There’s no doubt this resurgence is surprising. The Pirates are just six road wins away from matching their total from a year ago. They can accomplish this in the second month of the season. The offense has been relatively dormant averaging 4.2 runs per game outside of PNC Park. At home, however, only 2.6 runs are coming across the plate. That has equated to a 3-9 record at home.
With a home stand of seven games coming up between the Astros and Dodgers, the Bucs not only have to improve on their home series, but also in an attempt to move up in the Central. 
They’re two games out.
Coming to town are two struggling teams. Each are sub-.500 and at least  4.5 games out of their respective divisions. The road wins need to turnover to the home battles for this team to remain competitive. There is no better time than now. 

Trade Deadline Wrap Up

 

tradedeadline.jpg

Not quite Nomar, that title belongs to April and Opening Day. However, come July 31st I think it is safe to say it may be the most exciting.

Another Trade Deadline has come and gone. Heading into August I have a new feeling for the moves made by the Pirates. Joy.

Uncharacteristically the Pirates were not sellers at this trade deadline. But they were the farthest thing from being buyers as the team stands 20.5 games out of first place.

The moves the Pirates made were designed to swap talented players for relatively players of equal skill level.

The first move of the day sent bench players Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby and reliever D.J. Carrasco to the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Chris Snyder.

chris_snyder_200707_ap.jpgSnyder doesn’t bring much to the table offensively. His .230 batting average is about 20 points lower than normal starting catcher for the Bucs Ryan Doumit. However, Snyder does have more pop with 10 HRs this season. He also has something Doumit infamously lacks, a glove. Snyder has a .career .998 fielding percenatge. That is the most welcomed aspect from the deal. Doumit is widely regarded as “No-Mitt” a clever play on his last name and it surely is true. Pittsburgh has tried to position Doumit at first base on occasions just to take back some of the grunt work of being a major league catcher. That was an experiment gone wrong as Doumit was just as grim at first as he is behind the plate. Doumit is currently on the Disabled List. I anticipate Snyder will get the starting nod and will remain in that capacity even when Doumit returns to the clubhouse.

pedroc.jpgPittsburgh also landed minor leaguer Pedro Ciriaco. Look into those eyes, this shortstop looks intimidating and I think I’m going to like it. Ciriaco is probably light years away from the big leagues but he is servicable at the position. He has a respectable average hitting right around the .270 mark. He could make a run at shortstop in a few years. The organization is relatively weak at short in terms of future talent.

Deal two came a few hours later and probably made the biggest splash among fans of both organizations.

The Pirates recieved relief pitcher James McDonald an 21-year old minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo. In order to recieve this pair the Pirates surrendered Octavio Dotel.

I was a big fan of Dotels and will be sad to see him go. He was rented out just for this season and probably was not going to be a Bucco in 2011. I guess it is the best thing to give him up and still get a solid return.

jamesmac.jpgMcDonald is long and lanky, much like myself. I don’t want to say I have followed his whole career, that would be a lie. However I have paid attention to what he has done throughout his relative short emergence out in LA. He is just 25 and still has plenty of time to develop into a solid big league player. He has shown flashes of excellence out of the bullpen but still has yet to be even the least bit respectable. I’m glad he is now in Pittsburgh, this will be a great chance for him to revive.

This Lambo guy may be the most intriguing of the bunch.

lambo.jpgI trolled the Dodger’s Message Boards to see reactions from their fans on the deal. Many were cintent with seeing McDonald go but the cost of trading Lambo seemed way too high for them.

I can see why they were disapointed.

Lambo is a highly regarded prospect coming out of the 4th round of the 2007 draft. This year in AA he has a solid .270 batting average and maintains a career average of .286. He draws comparrisons by some Pirate bloggers to current rightfielder Jose Tabata. Both players will hit for a high average and provided a spark at the top of the lineup. Tabata is currently riding a ten game hitting streak into tonight’s game at St. Louis.

The Pirates completed the day shipping another relief pitcher to the state of California.

Javier Lopez went to the Giants in exchange for pitcher Joe Martinez and outfielder John Bowker.

JoeMartinez.jpgThere is not much information out on Martinez. He is a career minor league pitcher and does have a shot at landing a major league position at some point. Any pitching is good pitching in my eyes.

bowker.jpgBowker may have the best shot of any player in the whole trade deadline package to make a legitimate impact. He can probably make the team right away but will have to earn a starting spot in the outfield. He has been milling around in the minors recently but does have experience in the majors. I like what he offers. He will push an already talented Bucco outfield for playing time.

There you have the new faces of the freshest crop of players in the Pirates organizaton. Last year the influx of trades made left fans with a wait and see attitude. This year we have a lot of the pieces needed for success and we can watch them develop keenly.

In years past the masses of Pittsburgh have bellyached about the trades made by the Pirates. This year should please everybody. Much of the bullpen was traded away and it was the Buc’s strongest suit. All players from the pen will be replaced and replaced fairly easily. I’m proud of Neil Huntington for making these level headed moves.

Phot Credits: boston.com, beat.bodoglife.com, sbnation.com, latimes.com, baseballbeginnings.com, leftysportsacademy.com, espn.com

 

To retaliate or not to retaliate?

andrew mizuno.jpgIt is no question that Andrew McCutchen is the best player on the Pirate’s roster. He is a five tool player that also possess the leadership that this team crucially needs.

He led off Saturday’s game against the Dodgers putting the first run on the board, a solo shot in the first inning.

The blast was his 4th of the year and the homerun that brought him the most attention since last year’s 3-homer night at PNC Park.

As McCutchen was rounding second base he looked to give a little fist pump. There was no doubt he was excited as he is a fiery player who tends to show his emotions, a good thing in my opinion.

The Didgers did not think so. And neither did Pirates color analist Bob Walk. Walk, a former pitcher, said he was and would have been upset with McCutchen’s actions when he was a MLB starting pitcher and as a player today.

In the fifth inning Dodger’s relief pitcher, veteran Ramon Ortiz sent messages to Cutch. Not a message. Messages.

Two pitches brushed the back of McCutchen. Back to back pitches, no way they could have “gotten away” from Ortiz. The two pitches come after a pair of Bucco batters were plunked earlier in the game as well. After the at-bat McCutchen was visibly upset as he walked to the dugout jawing at the field and what looked like other teammates.

Pirates starting pitcher Zach Duke had an oppotunity to settle the score against Ortiz and the
duke.jpgDodgers. He went back on the hill and went back to work as usual. Even when Ortiz stepped to the plate, such a rare occurance for a relief pitcher, Duke did not come inside.

Now I am torn. Part of me thinks Duke and manager John Russell took the high road. They looked at this objectively and knew that throwing at Ortiz or any Dodger would be disrespectful and even childish.

However, if I was McCutchen I would feel betrayed. I would expect my teammates and my manager to stand up for me. He goes up there night in and night out and busts his butt for the team to apparently not be as appreciated or valued.

After the game when asked about the scenrio Duke said he “dropped the ball” in regards to not protecting McCutchen. Post-Gazette reporter Dejan Kovacevic reported that the mood was very somber and angry after this 5-1 loss to LA.

Outfielder Ryan Church seemed offended regarding the issue saying “It stinks. You don’t throw at somebody’s head.” Referring to McCutchen’s noggin.

Now when Duke was pulled from the game in favor of reliever Jack Taschner, he came in with a bang. The first batter he faced was Andre Eithier. The first pitch he threw sailed behind Eitheir. The dust settled there for the night.

The Pirates are now 10-15. They return home to face the Cubs. And I must go back to my finals studying.

photo credits: mizuno.com, AP-dodgers.scout.com

Coming back to Earth

Well reality sunk in and hell has not frozen over.

The Pirates will not be undefeated this season.

 

paul maholm.jpgThe Dodgers laid it on the Bucs 11-2. The lack of offense on our end was thanks to excellent starting pitching from my fantasy team ace, Chad Billingsley. He hit 100 pitches within the first five innings and later handed the ball over to Jared “Dream” Weaver. He worked his way out of jams and worked masterfully.

Even though the Bucs lost their first game of the season, by nine runs at that, taking two of three from the Dodgers is no easy feat. I am very proud of the team and their scrappy play thus far in the young infant season.

Wednesdays game was glorious. A lot of my West Virginia friends made the trip up but I had to stay home. As weird as it was for six guys who are not Pirates fans to drive an hour for a Pirates game, they had a great time and were not only treated to a walk off win, but dollar tickets as well! Soak that in for a sec, dollar tickets! They had great seats too, section 113 down the left field line.

 

Thumbnail image for pumped pirates.jpgRonny Cedeno was the hero of the game drilling a pitch to left field for the walkoff. A glorious moment that probably sent the 30,000 at PNC Park into a fury.

With three games down I still remain optimistic that Pittsburgh will surprise people this year. .500 is reachable!

The squad now heads to Pheonix with a weekend series at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks.

photo credits: Keith Srakocic/AP, Peter Diana/Post Gazette

 

A roller coaster of emotions: Final Four and Opening Day

This has been a Spring Break I will never forget. Three amazing events all wrapped in a week was so very special.

You all read about my Cooperstown trip and here is a quick, depressing synopsis of my Saturday in Indianapolis.

 

Final Four and Opening Day 085.jpgIt was surreal. Surreal that not only was West Virginia playing in the Final Four but also that I was there to witness it. However, the Mountaineers were shalacked. Up and down, it was ugly. We were killed on the boards and Duke was simply shooting lights out.

Final Four and Opening Day 013.jpg 

It was a great road trip for my WVU buddies and I. Although West Virginia was destroyed 78-57 it was an amazing time with unforgettable memories. It is definitely the best sporting event I have ever been to. Surpassing Game 3 of the Stanley Cup from last summer and the 2006 MLB All Star Game in PNC Park.

As tears flowed down my face Saturday night, I felt a shock of jubilation come Sunday night.

Opening Day was abreast!

I rose at 7 am Monday morning and was on the road to Pittsburgh by 8.

My group of six gathered at Primanti Brothers for a tasty breakfast of meat, coleslaw, fries and tomatoes.

The gates to PNC Park opened at 11:30 and we found ourselves in the left field bleachers. In a “right place at the right time” moment I caught a ground rule double off the bat of an unidentified Dodgers batter. My first Opening Day ball!

From there I ventured over to the Pirates dugout. There I met a fellow blogger, Ms. Kristy of “Hands off My Pirates Booty” 

 

 

Final Four and Opening Day 133.jpgmShe was enjoying batting practice from her beautiful seats right along the dugout, just seven rows back. It not only offers a great view of the game, but the city as well. I am sporting my freshly bought Lastings Milledge T-shirt. I was surprised at the variety of T-shirts offered this year.

The game itself was everything I could have asked for. A win!

 

The jolly roger was raised indeed as the Bucs exploded for an 11-5 victory over the Dodgers.

I was nervous at first as Zach Duke let up two runs in the first inning, however our ace settled down and pitched a solid five innings.

The man of the hour was Garrett Jones, let me re-phrase that, Garrett FREAKING Jones.

Jones went off with a two home run performance and showed he will be our go to guy for power. Both HRs were impressive. The first was a 450 foot blast into the Alegheny River. The other an opposite field homerun to left over the head of Manny Ramirez.

Final Four and Opening Day 158.jpgIt was cool to see Manny. He was greeted with a throng of Boos from the crowd. Although I gave him a standing O as he approached the plate for his first at bat.

Speaking of the crowd, it was great. A sellout crowd of over 39,000 saw the first game of the 2010 season. And boy did they see a beauty. I’m glad the city of Pittsburgh was welcomed with a heralded perforance. I know it will not be packed with 39,000 every game but hopefully today showed what this team can be capable of and bring some new faces to the ballpark.

That being said, this team is solid. Talented in fact, they will surprise some people this year and may, just maybe break that .500 mark and compete after the All Star break. Until then I plan on enjoying each and every game and cannot wait till I am back in the park. Like every year, it was a great Man Day Monday.



Final Four and Opening Day 145.jpg

 

2009 Buccos close the door on PNC Park….

WITH A WIN!

What a refreshing way to close the door on PNC Park for the 2009 campaign. It is bittersweet for me. I hate the end of baseball season (yes I know the Pirates still have two series of road games to play and yes there is still playoffs, but the fact I gotta wait til April to see a live game puts me in a tizzy) Bu anyway the faith is still there. The Pirates actually have a little life and a fight in them to take 3 of 4 from the mighty Dodgers.

On Friday the Bucs edged the Dodgers 3-1, they struggled on Saturday but remained in the 8-4 defeat, it was 6-5 on Sunday as Lastings Milledge nailed a 3-run walk off double and on Monday the Bucco big bats came out in an 11-1 victory.

It is all bittersweet. I loved the way we played against LA but where was that winning spirit throughout the course of the season. Pittsburgh is swept by the Reds but can win three games against the Dodgers in the same week. It just doesn’t come full circle. I honestly believe we have the talent. McCutchen, Jones and Milledge will be cornerstones on this team. However, it takes me than three solid major leaguers to win ballgames. The other regulars on the team have had flashed of brillance but never enough to sustain a winning record.

Andy LaRoche was one of those flashes today

.
He went 5-5 with a pair of homers, two doubles and a triples. With a showing like that you would think this guy is a superstar but this year he has been far from it. He’s batting .259 with 12 homeruns. Totally mediocre and he has played the 3rd base position all year. For a player at that position he should be doing much better. He has been a dissapointment considering the hype around him. After all we basically got him for the price of Jason Bay. He’s been off and on all year with a 2 week slump here and a week of greatness there. Emma from CRZblue has been asking about her former top prospect in LA. Emma, what you saw today is really just Andy wearing his “good baseball player” mask. He has a lot of slack to pick up if he wants to guarentee his spot next year. Pedro Alvarez is in the minors and knocking at the PNC Parks doors rapidly.

LaRoche came over from the Dodgers in the three way trade last year. The Dodgers gave the Bucs another key player that has been a starter for Pittsburgh most of the year.

Delwyn Young is a natural corner outfielder. Since the Pittsburgh trade he has been converted
to a second baseman. It took him a while to get adjusted but since he has been more nurtured he has been a soild infielder. He’s been seen on top plays and web gems. He’s been strong at the plate doing his job as speedy guy and getting on base. He is a pure singles hitter who always seems to get a hit. He’s flireted with a .300 batting average for most of the season. He has descended throughout the past 2 months and is now at .261. I’m sure this being his first full time position player season he is winded and will need some much needed R and R this offseason.

The Pirates-Dodgers connection extends beyond the baseball field.

Last week the Pirates took a trip out west to Sunny California and were warmly welcomed by the Dodgers in historic Dodger Stadium.

Like always Cat was at the game showing her pride and watched her Dodgers sweep the Bucs in three games. While she was there she so genuinely picked up a token of memorabilla for me.

She was able to snag an autograph from Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez. Chavez has been very rocky all year and isn’t the most liked guy in Pittsburgh. However, he is nice with the fans and always takes time to sign autographs and throw balls to fans in the stands. I’m impressed with him and all the Pirates players. They relaize their not a team like the Dodgers and should be happy with the strong fan base that will always stick with him. I just want to say thanks Cat! I’m definately keeping this on display, my favorite part is actually the Dodgers season ticket stub. It is very cool and add to my baseball collection. I also want to say hey to my friend Steve, he’s lurking in the background and got caught in the pic.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.