In 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates won four games against the Cubs. In 2010, the Pirates have two wins after two games against their NL Central opponent following a 4-2 victory last evening. It was a big night for Charlie Morton. The lanky right handed starter for the Bucs is a helluva pitcher with a ton of talent on the diamond. Off it, Morton is an accomplished singer and even did some quality blogging for Pirates Report this spring.
Morton is such a talented singer and guitarist that he has an album in the works, entitled Storm Inside. Last night, the storm was unleashed on the Chicago Cubs. Pirates fans have had their umbrellas, golloshes, and rain gear waiting for the Charlie Morton storm all season. It was a pretty solid start, but for Morton and Pirates fans it seemed like a hurricane.
We knew Morton could unleash it like the God of Thunder. In spite of some horrendous outings, Morton still averaged a strikeout of an opposing batter every inning heading into the game. Morton needed this game last night. Pirates fans needed it too.
The offensive production was the key and it came from the top four Pirates batters in a very non-sabermetrical lineup. Nevertheless, the top four delivered seven of the ten Pirates hits. Bobby Crosby had two from the leadoff spot, white hot Andy LaRoche had a double in the Bucs ‘big’ third inning (LaRoche also banged his outs very loudly as well.) Andrew McCutchen had two in the hit column in the boxscore , and Garrett Freaking Jones got some pitches to hit, and had two rips also. [Jones RBI Double. Jones RBI Single.]
If Garrett Jones comes out of this slump, the Pirates will be a much different team. With Garrett hitting bombs for extra bases, the Bucs instantly are a much harder team to beat in this massive stretch of games over the next 28 days.
Hell, Ronny Cedeno, batting in the eight spot in the order, decided to get back on the hit train last night with two infield hits. What a night to move the pitcher to number nine in the batting order as Charlie Morton will never be confused with Carlos Zambrano who has 20 career homeruns. But Mortons’ performance at the plate tonight in the fourth inning upset me. Everyone knows Charlie provides very little with the bat. But when Morton failed to get out of the box on a bunted ball he hit in front of the plate, it caused him to get tangled up with the Cubs catcher and result in a double play. It was awful. So by the time he decided to start moving, ugh….nevermind. Bunting is an art. Running to first is not.
It was contagious, as Garrett Jones had a swinging bunt he thought was foul and then committed the ultimate umpire pet peeve by pointing to the ball with his bat. Didn’t work.
Back in the third inning, the Pirates put back to back to back doubles (LaRoche, Cutch, Jones) on the Cubs starter Ted Lilly. Of the Pirates ten hits, four went for extra bases with Ryan Church connecting with his second home run in as many nights and also his second of the year. It was a solo shot that richocheted into and out of the crowded right field bleachers. [Video of Church homer]
Morton allowed a leadoff single in the seventh. John Russell immediately went to the bullpen for Evan Meek.
BrooksBaseball.net put these together. They show 31 Morton curveballs, and a nearly even amount of two-seamers (20)and four seamers (19) in the game. Can you say early sliders, for strikes? Late movement? Morton allowed one three-ball count all night. He got ten ground ball outs. Yeh, he was up in the zone a little bit, especially with his heater on the Cubs lefties. But, we will take it.
With the Morton inherited runner aboard, right hander Meek entered another high leverage situation. Yawn. Meek was sharp again getting a double play ball off the bat of ‘my lucky hitting streak is still alive’ Mike Fotenont and another ground ball from Koyie Hill to fire a goose egg up on the scoreboard for the good guys in the seventh inning. Meek has dropped his ERA to 0.53.
Joel Hanrahan got two more strikeouts in the eighth inning. He was pumping enough cheese that Mr. Taco Bell had to be jealous. It was sick and thick. He fired 16 pitches, 11 for strikes. He touched 96mph.
Octavio Dotel scares the hell out of me. Call it the Matt Capps syndrome. Dotel threw 17 pitches, eleven for strikes. We saw nearly half of his pitches were elevated. It’s painful watching Dotel. It’s painful watching Pirates fans in the ninth inning. Fans seem so trained for losses. I saw ladies biting their nails for God sakes. (Also saw plenty of fans smiling with beers, heh, it was Cinco De Mayo!) But seriously, we are just so used to losing/having our hearts broke, I think that cheering for the Bucs seems to be a lost art.
I think Dotel should steal the Freddy Krueger theme music, just sub the name Octavio for Freddy. One two, Octavio is coming for you. Three, four better lock the door. Five, six grab your crucifix, seven, eight….oh well there was no reason for Pirates fans to fear Octavio on this night. He slammed the door with two strikeouts and buckets of La Cerveza Mas Fina were ordered by the dozens in bars where Big Ben Roethlisberger had undoubtedly offended a waitress. Heh, pass the limes! Seven, eight better stay up late.
Heh, it’s a catchy tune. The Bucs are streaking. Sorry, but it is Cinco De Mayo.
So when Dotel struck out Aramis Ramirez for his fifth save last night, cries of RAISE IT echoed through the city, Charlie Morton exhaled, and we even passed up on our favorite rum for a celebratory Patrone shot or three. It was one big victory for Morton. (that’s what the title of this god awful post is for all you French speaking RumBunter fans.)
Now the big question. Are the Cubs the new whipping boys for the Pirates? I seriously doubt all that, but hell, we are already half the way to last years’ win total. That’s a great start.
PitchF/X courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net
Bucs pitchers gave up five hits, all singles, and no walks. Where the hell did this come from all of a sudden?
Questionable play of the game: Zambrano pitching. Bobby Crosby gunned down on a strike em out throw em out. Wasn’t even close.
We detailed the 2009 season for Charlie in this post during spring training. Check it out, it’s scary true: Smells Like Charlie Morton. Charlie, just trust it kid.
Ross Ohlendorf is coming back soon too? This will be like April 5 all over again.
Dirty Doug signed with the Marlins.
Milton Bradley really is nuts.
Garrett Jones will wear a microphone tomorrow night for the FSN telecast. Sounds like fun.
Pass the 3D glasses, I gotta check this out. The Yankees in 3D?