Pirates shake-up lineup, fail to get a win and drop six straight
Manager John Russell decided to give the lineup a shake-up on Saturday. The Pirates offense has been struggling; being held to just three runs or less in the last 16 of 27 games. But even with the new face lift, the Buccos weren’t able to pull a win and lost 3-2 to the Astros.
JR on the lineup shake-up:
“Looks good, doesn’t it? The five guys (at the top) are still the five guys; they’re just in a little different order. Left/Right, pretty much all the way through with a couple switch-hitters in there. It gives us a little more punch, a little bit higher, and aslo keeps the speed up top.”
The Pirates started the game off on a postive note. Andrew McCutchen hit a lead-off triple. Garrett Jones, who was hitting in the second spot for the first time in his carreer, followed up with a two-run home run quickly giving the Bucs a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Unfortunately, that would be the only runs the Pirates would score the remainder of the game.
Paul Maholm pitched 6.2 innings, three runs on nine hits, one walk and four strike-outs. Maholm pitched six strong innings but ran into trouble in the seventh. Paul gave off a lead-off single to Humberto Quintero then Bud Norris hit a sacrifice bunt moving pinch-runner Jason Bourgeois to second base. Angel Sanchez singled to tie the game at two. Hunter Pence gave the Astros the lead with a solo home run.
“To me I made three bad pitches and it cost us three bad runs,” Maholm said. “You wish we could have gotten a bigger lead, but I had a lead and I wish I could have made a pitch.”
Bud Norris held the Pirates to just five hits through seven innings and struck out a career high 14.
“(Norris) had some good stuff today,” said Alvarez, who struck out in each of his four at-bats. “We swung at some stuff out of the zone. Maybe we were too anxious.”
“He was throwing everything hard,” McCutchen said. “He turned into somebody else after the first inning. We got on his fastball, so he changed sequence and started throwing his slider. He had it working for him.”
- The Pirates have lost six straight and are 0-8 at Minute Maid Park this season.
- Garrett Jones’ home run was the first Pirates home run in the first inning since May 17 (Delywn Young)
- Pedro Alvarez is tied with Pat Burrel and Adam Dunn with 11 RBI in the last 10 games (NL Leaders)
- Ross Ohlendorf (Since June 23rd) 9 starts, 45.2 IP, 2.19 ERA, 16/BB, 40/K, Record 1-3
- Bud Norris’ 14 Strike-outs are the most by an Astros pitcher since Wade Miller had 14 on May 30, 2003 at Chicago. Norris’s 14 Strike-outs are also second most in the Majors this year.
- John Bowker since Joining AAA-Indy: 10 games, .417 AVG, 5 2B, 5 RBI, 1 HR, .447 OBP
- Justin Wilson pitched a GEM for AA Altoona 8IP, 0ER, 2H, 0BB, 11K, WIN. ERA down to 3.13.
- Mike Crotta tonight 6IP 0R 6H 2BB 6K, 4th straight solid start by the 25 year-old who was hitting 96 more than a few times. (via@ScottDMcCauley)
Sunday’s Pitching Matchup:
Jeff Karstens 2-8, 4.39 ERA
J.A. Happ 2-1, 3.45 ERA
Karstens is just 0-6 since June 19 but that is not entirely Jeff’s fault. The Pirates have averaged 2.8 runs per game during that span. In Karstens’ last three starts he has an 2.65 ERA in 17 innings pitched.
Happ has been inconsistent for the Astros since being traded by the Phillies in part of the Roy Oswalt deal. Happ tossed six shutout innings to beat the Brewers 2-0 in his debut game for Houston. His second start was a whole different story. He gave up seven earned runs on six hits and three walks in one inning of work against the Cardinals. Happ is 1-1 with an 2.40 ERA against the Pirates.
I’m going to start a FREE JEFF CLEMENT tracker. In my opinion, Clement has much more upside than Lastings Milledge. Now, I know, Clement doesn’t play right field. My ideal situation would be to move Garrett Jones to Right, and to give Jeff another shot as the Pirates first baseman. Here’s why:
- Since being re-called from AAA-Indy Clement is batting .385 with two home runs, and three RBI. This is a pretty small sample size considering he has only gotten 13 at-bats. Since he got demoted, Jeff has been working on a whole new approach, read the interview here Clement also is power guy, and the Pirates don’t have many of those on the team. We need a guy that can hit for power and score us some runs.
- I like Lastings Milledge as a person. He always seems to be smiling and having fun, staying postive even though the Bucs have only 39 wins this year. As a player? I hate to say it, but the Pirates can do much better. Milledge is batting .272 on the season, which isn’t bad at all. League average for a right fielder is .267. Lastings is a very unpredictable hitter. He hits .361 with RISP but when bases are empty he is batting .240. This is a huge difference which is alarming. Milledge lacks power, BADLY. He has only three home runs on the season, very low for a right fielder. His OBP (.331) SLG (.374) and OPS (.705) are all very low for right fielder.
- Garrett Jones is a natural first baseman but struggles with making throws to second base. Jones also seems to bat better when he plays right, compared to first base. (7 Errors at first base this year)
RF: .275 AVG, .351 OBP, .491 SLG, .842 OPS (71 games)
1B: .245 AVG, .297 OBP, .381 SLG, .679 OPS (47 games)
- To be honest, if I’m starting a Clement tracker, I should also start a BRING UP MOSS & BOWKER one as well. Both Moss and Bowker have power and can play OF/IB and are tearing it up in AAA-Indy.
Brandon Moss: .268 AVG, 20 HR, 81 RBI, .330 OBP, .477 SLG, .807 OPS
John Bowker since joining AAA-Indy (Part of the Javier Lopez trade from the Giants) .417 AVG, 5 2B, 5 RBI, 1 HR, .447 OBP
- JEFF CLEMENT: Saturday night VS Astros:
- Brandon Moss: 1-for-4, 2K
- John Bowker: 1-for-4, 2K