The Pittsburgh Pirates Pedro Alvarez had a miserable June, but came alive in July. He entered the month with a .160 average. He was striking out at an amazing rate with 22 K’s in his 46 at-bats. He had two doubles. He was slugging .196. Chants of “K-dro” were heard throughout PNC Park.
Alvarez didn’t quite make a big splash rookie debut like some of his peers in the Pittsburgh sports scene. Alvarez did carry a modest three game hitting streak into July. He worked hard and made it eight games. Two walks broke up the hit streak, but extended the reached base streak to ten. Alvarez was getting comfortable.
The middle of July was big fun for Pirates fans. Pedro tore up the Brewers, Astros, and Brewers pitching once again. He had five bombs, three doubles and thirty-three total bases.
But the end of July has fans looking closely again at Pedro. He has 25 strikeouts in 86 at-bats this month. He has walked eleven times. There is no question he is improving. But will it be enough to keep the interest of Pittsburgh fans as the six-time Super Bowl Champs roll into training camp?
There is no doubt that Pirates fans will be watching closely how Alvarez reacts to Cardinals pitching while they have one eye on Latrobe and the return of the hungover Steelers. How cool would it be for Pedro and the Pirates to make some noise?
Regardless of how the Pirates fare on the field, the Cardinals provide a pivotal test for Alvarez. The rookie struggled when he faced some tough pitching against the Padres. He was 2-for-11, striking out once. Then in nine at-bats against the Rockies, he had one hit with four strikeouts in his first eight at-bats.
The questions are popping up again. Is Alvarez fading? Is he worried about his below average glove at the hot corner? Certainly his glove leaves Pirates fans dreaming about what the hell Perry Hill is doing these days, but Pedro is not going to fade.
He can prove the believers right and give some hope to many of the Pittsburghers sitting in traffic on Route 30 with a solid performance against a good Cardinals pitching staff. The football team starts taking coverage from the Pirates beginning today. If Alvarez can keep the Pirates relevant in the media, it could be a testament for the excitement around the young Pittsburgh Pirates. This weekend needs to be a statement for Pedro Alvarez against a Cardinals rotation that can make young hitters look foolish.
Tonight the Pirates will face Chris Carpenter. Alvarez should make some noise. Carpenter has allowed fifteen homers, which is most on the Cards staff. So which way will it go? The veteran Carpenter or Superman Alvarez?
I think Alvarez opens some eyes against the Cards. God I hope so, because staring at the Steelers and Byron Leftwich on Saturday might be even scarier than the last place Pirates.