Neil Walker Is Batman, Slugs Pirates To Victory
By Tom Smith
A lot of good things happened last night at PNC Park, but so did some bad things-quite a few actually. Andrew McCutchen getting drilled in the dreds in his second plate
appearance in the Bucs big second inning was one of the bad things. Reds picher Mike Leake was going on nine days rest as the Reds try and limit their talented pitching. Leake beaned him with the Bud Selig autograph on the side of McCutchen’s neck. But hitting Cutch is like hitting Sampson.
McCutchen is mortal again and listed as day-to-day. Why he doesn’t get some rest is beyond me, but the Bucs held on to win 7-6 on the the red hot arm of Joel Hanrahan who had to come out to AC/DC-see story below.
The right handed Hanrahan earned his first save of the season by closing out the ninth after Scott Rolen (goat) got a lead off single to start the ninth. Our tweet about John Russell allowing Evan Meek to throw 50 pitches in the seventh and eighth innings was well received last night.
One great thing to see was that the Bucs weren’t going to roll over for the New Big Red Machine. Paul Maholm drilled Leake in the leg in the third inning after the Bucs got a six run second inning. Give Leake some credit, he simply tossed the bat and ran to first base. Hell, the guy is batting like .350 for God sakes.
But in spite of all of these stories, Neil Walker stole the show last night. Yeh, his hitting is phenomenal lately.
But how about that pivot in the first inning? Seriously? Pedro Alvarez nearly skipped the ball to him at second base and Walker made the finest turn of the season. Walker continues to impress with the glove. It’s so hard to believe his story this season. He has proven everyone who doubted him wrong and that’s a very long list. We’re just thrilled we’re not on it.
What hasn’t Walker done for his hometown Pirates team while learning a new position at the Major League level? It’s exciting stuff on a team that hasn’t exactly provided a lot of excitement in the win column this season. So, who is the next Neil Walker in the Pirates system? Fire up the Bat Signal
Joel Hanrahan has only given up one run since the All-Star break. The “inside the park” homer last night. He has “allowed” three runs in his past 23.2 innings pitched.
You won’t see it anywhere if you missed the game, but Pedro Alvarez misplayed a Scott Rolen one-out grounder on Maholm’s 72nd pitch. It was pivotal.
It pissed off fans and unfortunately appeared to have an effect on Maholm. A single by Gomes followed. Bruce hit a comebacker to Maholm, but the Pirates could only get the force out at second base, but it could have been the third out.
Rolen scored on a single to right to make it 7-2 Bucs. A single to left field by Hernadez of all people made it 7-3. Four hits before Francisco flied out to end the inning.
A miracle needs to happen with Alvarez and his glove, footwork, and approach on balls hit to his left. It could be fixed, he just doesn’t seem to react quickly enough on balls that require him to make at least two steps to his left. Hell, maybe it’s me.
Buck Showalter won his debut tonight. Way to prove ’em wrong Buck. Keep rolling kid, keep rolling.