With one timely swing of the bat this past Tuesday night, the very slight momentum that was beginning to pick up behind the #StarttheFORT movement was halted. A walk-off homerun is always a fun way to cap off a mid-week home game against a team that was getting way too big for its britches, this time resulting in a 5-4 Pirates victory over the Washington Nationals Traveling Road Show. Strasburg, Harper, and the other 23 nameless faces donning the banner of the team from our Nations Capitol left Pittsburgh battered and bruised – requiring another stellar outing by their 23-year old ace to avoid a sweep at PNC Park. The highlight of the series was of course the walk-off homer provided by catcher Rod Barajas, who managed to get the heat off his back with one good smash off of Nationals closer Henry Rodriguez. Good for the Bucs, but not so great for the short-term playing time of our 5-foot 10 favorite backup backstop.
Another week spent counting sunflower seeds and organizing the locker for “The Fort”, who managed just two starts and a handful of at-bats in Week Five. The Pirates spent a good bit of cabbage to bring Captain Rod into the fold, so at this point it seems that the club is committed to his .162 batting average anchoring down the bottom third of the batting order. To be fair, we have heard good things about how Barajas handles the pitching staff, so there seems to be some justification to why they keep trudging him out there five nights a week. That leaves very little time for our 5-foot 10 hero to see the field, unless he somehow manages to learn the shortstop position in the next few weeks.
It’s tough for a player to get into a rhythm when they are only getting 8-10 plate appearances per week, and unless they are a naturally gifted hitter (Don Slaught comes to mind), raking any type of production out of so few opportunities is virtually impossible. One of the reasons why we love McKenry so much is that he is as close to an “everyman” as there exists at the major league level. We could picture him as easily selling us a lawnmower at Home Depot as catching for the Pirates. He has to work twice as hard to maintain his talent as a player who gets five at-bats a day and knows their name will be there when the lineup card is posted. The type of pressure that forces on a player is unimaginable, and sometimes we see careers cut short just because a guy happens to be in the wrong situation and never gets a chance to really show what he can accomplish. Make no mistake, every player suiting up for a major league baseball team was the MVP of every team they ever played on before hitting the professional level – carving out a career as a back-up is a tough proposition for any of them after a lifetime of seeing their name in lights. Hopefully, “The Fort” gets an opportunity to shine in the black and gold.
Our FortTracker stat line for Week Five (May 7-May 13):
May 10 Nationals 4, Pirates 2 PNC Park
Starting against phenom SP Stephen Strasburg, McKenry managed to stroke a double off the Nats ace. Finishing with a 1 for 3 line, McKenry also nailed Danny Espinosa attempting to steal in the 2nd inning.
May 11 Astros 1, Pirates 0 PNC Park
“The Fort” came in as a defensive replacement for the ninth inning after Barajas was pinch-run for in the eighth. No plate appearances, no defensive numbers.
May 12 Pirates 5, Astros 2 PNC Park
McKenry started and went 0-3 with a walk.
May 13 Pirates 3, Astros 2 PNC Park
In this 12-inning affair, Manager Clint Hurdle was forced to use Barajas at 1B for an inning. McKenry came in as a defensive replacement and went 0-1 in his lone at-bat. He did manage to move the runner to third with a ground out, setting the stage for the top of the lineup to get a crack at winning the game.
FortTracker Totals for Week Five (May 7 -May 13)
8 at-bats, 1 Hit, 1 BB, 1 K
1/1 in throwing out potential baserunners
Rod Barajas stats for Week Five (May 7 – May 13)
14 at-bats, 4 hits, 1 HR, 1 double, 2 K’s, 0 BB
0/2 on throwing out baserunners
FortTracker Summary for Week Five
Bad week for the Fort Revolution. Barajas not only hit better this week, he also had the walk-off homer. He still can’t seem to throw out base stealers, but it looks for now like Captain Rod is going to be in the Bucs lineup and “The Fort” will be on the pine.
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