Charlie Morton pitched another solid game for the Pirates last evening. However, Morton bunts like Obama pitches. Awful. But more later on that. Morton was the tough luck loser as the Pirates fell 3-2 to Barry Zito and the Giants. Morton has been solid, consistently showing the best stuff on the Pirates pitching staff, but he also has sputtered. Morton has been very consistent at being inconsistent.
The performances by the lanky right handed Morton have rotated in this manner: solid (no decision vs COL), sputter (loss to KC), solid (win vs FLA), sputter (loss to HOU), solid (win vs SF), sputter (no decision vs ARI). Last night was the appropriate time for a solid outing and Morton didn’t disappoint.
Let’s take a closer look.
First Inning: 92-95 mph. 1 flyball, 1 groundball, 1 K.
He got ahead of two Giants in the first. Results were a single by Panda and a strikeout.
He fell behind on two batters, but managed to get a flyout and a groundout.
Morton displayed good velocity in the 92-95 range.
Second inning: 3pitches=2outs. Lacked downward movement on sinker.
Morton threw three pitches and got two outs. A groundout and a flyout.
He fell behind to Eugenio Velez and gave up a 2 ball, no strike bomb to the right field seats. Game tied. 1-1. Lefthanders were hitting .289 off Morton coming into the game. It was the third homer allowed in Morton’s 38.2IP this season.
Morton came back and got the last out on a groundout.
Third inning: Filled up the zone. Horizontal movement stayed consistent.
Fell behind 2-0 and came back to get a groundout.
Got ahead of the other two batters for a flyout on a pitch with little movement that was smacked to McCutchen for a flyout and the other batter Morton got on a strikeout.
Fourth inning: Filthy breaking ball against RH hitters. Late movement on fastball.
Got behind two batters issued a two ball no strike single and came back to get a strikeout in the other situation.
When Morton got ahead he got a flyout, he jumped out to an 0-2 count on Velez and then walked him, the last out of the fourth inning was a strikeout.
Fifth inning: After 62 pitches 79mph to 96mph. Settled after the walks. Got ahead in the count to get the final two outs. Two flyball outs.
He issued a leadoff walk to Zito and another walk after falling behind in the count.
Morton got all three outs after jumping out with a first pitch strike. He recorded a flyball on his 69th pitch of the game, got Panda to flyout to center and got a strikeout.
Sixth inning: Failed to get ahead on the first four batters. Missed low repeatedly. Tight breaking ball from early in the game just spun as movement diminished. Three flyball outs.
Morton couldn’t get the first pitch strike and issued a leadoff single, got a lineout to second, Kerrigan came out to the mound. He then fell behind to Velez 2 balls and no strikes. He came in low with a fastball with little movement and Velez crushed it down the right field line for his second RBI of the night. 2-1 Giants.
Morton fell behind three balls and no strikes, but reached 94 on the gun with a high fastball that was lifted to right field and caught by Garrett Jones.
Morton got the last out of his outing by getting ahead and on his 106th and final pitch he got a popout to LaRoche.
RECAP: The kid will be solid. He didn’t record a ground ball out after the third inning. Morton got the strikeout when he needed it and recorded five on the night (four strikeouts came in the third, fourth, and fifth when he also issued three walks) Lost the breaking ball late in the game. Must get stronger in the offseason. Velocity doesn’t fade late in the game, but horizontal movement nearly vanished.
Morton has the stuff on the mound. But at the plate he is awful. He struckout twice tonight trying to bunt over runners in crucial situations. Perhaps he could have made the difference in the game with his bat.
It was baffling to see him struggle at the basic bunt. (As you are aware, it’s a pet peeve at Rumbunter)
He appears to need a little confidence. We have heard he doesn’t do well with the microphone on him. Perhaps as he settles in on the Pirates staff this will improve.
Until then, sit back, relax and wait not for Morton’s next start because he is due for a sputter, but wait for ‘every other’ outing from Morton. Or wait for Kerrigan to beat the importance of that first pitch strike into his mind ( he fell behind to the first four batters in the sixth as he pitch count rised), working more on controlling the downward movement on his pitches and maintaining command of the breaking ball later in the game.
Oh and please, Tony Beasely, teach him how to get a bunt down. (Our deepest sympathy Tony on the passing of your father) The Pirates can’t afford to have Charlie looking like our President did trying to throw out the first pitch in the All-Star game. What’s next Morton in baby blue jeans? Sorry Charlie, You have to get those bunts down.
You gotta enjoy watching this kid. He has the stuff.