The Pirates Have a Jekyl & Hyde First Week in 2010
By Tom Smith
One week into the 2010 MLB season and the Pittsburgh Pirates are 3-3. When the Bucs lost, they lost big and we mean BIG, punishing losses. The pitching has been dreadful. Suprisingly, the offense has been there. Some clutch hits are not there, especially when considering
30 baserunners were left on during the LA series. But when the Pirates won, they have looked especially dramatic.
But what was thought to be a strength, the starting rotation, has not been able to get deep into the games. It’s put considerable work on the bullpen. The Pirates have called to the pen heavily and certain pitchers have showed initial signs of being an improvement over the 2009 bullpen. Shit, that shouldn’t be hard. But, without question, certain members of the bullpen clearly didn’t have a great week
The Pirates were dubious enough to nearly break the modern era record of runs allowed in an inning on Sunday. Yes, the fourth inning against Arizona wasn’t pretty. Isolated innings this past week for the Bucs were downright awful.
The defense has stunk when they lost. An example, the Diamondbacks biggest inning in their history started when Ronny Cedeno blundered trying to flip the ball to second base without taking it out of his glove. Sixty some pitches later, Jack Taschner was able to stop the Snakes explosive inning one run short of the record. The most surprising thing I have seen from the defense has been errant throws in bad situations.
The Pirates bats deserve considerable credit this week as they took down the mighty Dan Haren in impressive fashion.
A day earlier, the offense wasn’t there as they fell to Rodrigo Lopez. In that game, Charlie Morton was masterful. He struck out five of the first six batters he faced. Swinging. But in the third inning, the Diamondbacks put up six runs and six hits, sending the lanky right handed Pirate, whom many are calling the key to the season, toward the Head & Shoulders in shower stall number two.
The Pirates had a resounding first two games. From the wonderous Star Spangled Banner sung at the opener, to Ronny Cedenos’ walk off single the Pirates were on a roll. It staked the Bucs record at 2-0 in front of 30,000+ win starved Pirate fans. A few hours later, the Pirates were looking for a sweep against the NL West Champion L.A. Dodgers with the Bucs best pitcher, Paul Maholm, on the bump in an afternoon game.
The Bucs got crushed 10-2. Pitching was bad. Fielding was worse.
Through the first week, hitting has been the bright spot. The Pirates are sixth in the NL in average and also sixth with a .781 OPS. However, clutch hitting has not been there. It won’t get easier for the Pirates bats this week either.
My offensive heroes for the week are SS Ronny Cedeno, who is tied for eighth in the NL with a .400 average. Cedeno has an .850 OPS. Garrett Jones has three homeruns and four walks to go along with a .905 OPS. The pitching hero is without question, Zach Duke who pitched well enough to earn two of the three victories.
Up and Comer of the week is Delwyn Young who has an OPS of 1.300 to go along with 4 hits in 10 at bats.
The Pirate offense has had little trouble putting runners on base, but knocking them in hasn’t been easy. The Bucs stranded 30 baserunners in the LA Series leaving nearly 80,000 fans in attendance to believe that, perhaps with some better luck, the Bucs will be able to score more runs. Unfortunately for the opponents it’s been less about luck, and more about being opportunistic.
The fourth inning against Arizona on Sunday when 13 runs were allowed and the third inning against Arizona on Friday when six runs were allowed didn’t help the Bucs pitching stats. Nearly every category shows the Bucs at, or near, the bottom of the NL.
If the Bucs can cool off the Giants, the pitching staff will need to lead the charge. Stay tuned Bucco fans, its’ going to be a great week.