Welcome to the Pittsburgh Pirates Wake-Up Call, a new daily feature here at RumBunter.com. Every morning at 9 AM, one of us will give you our random thoughts on the goings-on around the Pirates’ organization, and we’ll throw a few links to some good articles from around the web concerning our baseball team as well.
The Pirates have beat themselves these first two games
The most frustrating part of the first two games of this series has been the fact that the Pirates have seemed to beat themselves. Yes, the Cardinals are the best team in baseball, and it will be difficult to beat them in any game. But in game one, we all knew that Jeff Locke couldn’t last even remotely late into the game, but Clint Hurdle left him in with a Pirate lead and a fully rested bullpen, and the Cardinals made him pay. Last night, the Pirates’ defensive woes took center stage. A terrible throw on a routine grounder by Neil Walker and a poor dig by Pedro Alvarez at first led to two runs in the third inning. And Gregory Polanco tried to make a sexy, but risky play in the sixth by trying to get under or short hop a hit to right field, but instead misplayed it and the ball rolled to the wall, allowing two more runs to score. Aramis Ramirez also let a grounder bounce off his glove earlier in the game and didn’t get a tag down at third base in the eighth. It’s remarkable how far the Pirate defense has fallen off in just one year, as much of the success of the 2013 and 2014 Pirates was due to an increase in shifts and great defense.
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Why does Ramirez continue to bat cleanup?
I posed this question on twitter recently, and apparently no one has a legitimate reason why Ramirez continues to bat cleanup. Jung Ho Kang clearly needs to be in the cleanup role, and is probably the Pirates’ best option in that spot, but he continues to bat fifth while Ramirez, who is having a down year in his final year in the league, was just inserted into a huge run production spot after being acquired from the Brewers. Yes, Kang rakes in the fifth spot in the lineup, but that’s only because Hurdle somehow refuses to bat him cleanup, where he could also excel. The only reasons I can think of for batting Ramirez in the four-hole is (1) he’s a veteran and Hurdle doesn’t trust a 28-year-old rookie in Kang in that role and (2)…I got nothing. Hurdle may just be stubborn in keeping the lineup this way, and he’s not helping the team by doing so.
How do you align the left side of the infield when Mercer and Harrison return?
If you asked me this question before last night’s game, I would have said that Ramirez should be at third and Kang should be at short. With the atrocious defensive performance by a good majority of the team last night, I may have shifted my thinking to what David Todd tweeted last night:
The Pirate defense may have cost them last night’s game, and it could cost them more games in the future. Kang’s bat clearly has to stay in the lineup, so he has to start at short or third when Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer return. But Ramirez is horrible defensively, maybe worse than Harrison’s been at third this year. Putting Mercer at short and Kang at third would clean up the left side of the infield defensively, and we can hope that Mercer’s bat comes around. I’d still be tempted to go Kang at short and ARam at third, but my mindset is much more open now.
After swinging awkwardly at a pitch in the first inning, Starling Marte appeared to hurt his left hand. He played into the third inning and made one more plate appearance, but left after that with what is being called “left hand discomfort.” I don’t think it’s serious, but the last thing the Pirates need is to lose Marte from the lineup. He’s having a fantastic year after all.
Around the web
Stephen J. Nesbitt recently wrote about J.A. Happ and how he is hoping to make a good impression in his second start. Happ had a rough outing in his debut, and his next start was skipped. This upcoming start will be very important to the team moving forward.
One fan already got a 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates World Series Champions tattoo. You can see the piece of art here.
Here’s hoping the Pittsburgh Pirates can at least pull out one game from this series. Falling eight games behind in the divisional race would not be good.