Results tagged ‘ john russell ’
Ray Searage took over as interim pitching coach after the Pirates dismissed Joe Kerrigan in early August. A lot of managerial changes are bound to happen this off season but Searage may be around for 2011.
“Certainly, the pitchers have thrown the ball better as of late,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “Ray deserves some credit for that, and we certainly recognize that. There’s a reason why he was added to the Major League staff this year. We believe he can make a positive impact on the pitchers that are under his care and his tutelage, and that’s something that will definitely be taken into consideration as we move forward to make those decisions that we talked about this offseason.”
Searage began the 2010 season as an extra pitching coach working mainly with the relievers in the bullpen.
Many players have spoke out on how they enjoy working with Searage and like his style of pitching. Since he took over for Kerrigan, the staff’s ERA has dropped from 5.07 to 4.85.
“Pitchers responded, have been more efficient,” manager John Russell said. “They’ve given us a much better opportunity to win. Ray has done a really good job. He’s very energetic. He lets them be themselves, but he can also be demanding at the same time. He has a good rapport with them.”
Paul Maholm –who has worked with Searage since he started in Single-A– said this about the interim pitching coach:
“If you’re not feeling good about yourself, then go throw a bullpen with Ray,” Maholm said. “He’s passionate, he’s positive, he brings out the best in you. He believes in you.”
“It’s more about going out there and getting outs instead of worrying about some of the other stuff,” Maholm said.
Searage allows the starters much more freedom than Kerrigan did, who had a numbers based approach to the game.
“It’s more of a two-way street,” Searage said. “I’ll talk, they’ll talk and we’ll come to a happy medium. They know what they need to do in order to keep themselves sharp. It makes it easier for me, and they’re in a more relaxed atmosphere.”
Joel Hanrahan hit a milestone on Saturday night in Miami. With the two strikeouts in the eighth inning, he reached his 100th K of the season –the most in his career. (His previous high was 93 in 2008)
Hanrhan’s 100 strikeouts are second-highest on the team only to Paul Maholm (102). With Maholm out the rest of the season and one game remaining, Hanrahan has the chance to finish the season with the most strikeouts on the staff. He also has the chance to surpass Don Robinson who struck out 101 in 1984 –the most in Pirates history in a single season by a reliever
“There are guys that have obviously had way more, but it’s a nice number to look at and save,” Hanrahan said. “Obviously, I wish our season was better. But on the individual side, it’s a good thing to look at.”
“That’s a phenomenal feat,” Russell said. “It was a good moment for him. Especially to do it the way he did to get out of a jam.”
The Pirates and Manager John Russell are impressed with Alex Presley’s versatility.
“It’s nice, because when he’s not playing, I look down on the bench and I’ve got a weapon,” Russell said. “He can do some things to help you win a game. He gives you a good at-bat. He gives you some speed and can play defense. He’s a guy you look down on the bench and you like having him around because he can help win a game for you because there’s a lot he can do.”
· The Pirates are 12-12 in their past 24 games.
· Pedro Alvarez has homered in back-to-back games and has hit the long ball five times in the last 10 games. His 16 home runs are the most by a Pirates rookie third basemen since Aramis Ramirez hit 17 in 2002.
· Jose Tabata extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games during Friday’s 5-1 win over the Marlins.
RHP Charlie Morton (2-11, 7.94 ERA)
RHP Jorge Sosa (2-3, 5.23 ERA)
Morton his 17th and final start of the season. He got a no-decision his last start against the Cardinals. Morton allowed four runs on 10 hits through six innings, striking out four. He is 1-0 with a 4.24 ERA in his last four starts.
Sosa is starting in place of Alex Sanabia who was scratched due to right elbow stiffness. He is making his second start –22 appearance– of the season. Sosa is 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA when pitching from the bullpen. His only start of the season came on September 15th against the Phillies where he allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits with three walks in 2.1 innings.
The Pirates are in Miami for the final four games of the season –a scary territory considering the Bucs are just 16-61 away from PNC Park this season.
How is it a team who finished 40-41 –nearly .500– could play so horrendous on the road?
“We’ve looked at youth,” manager John Russell said. “We’ve looked at travel. We’ve looked at change in lifestyle, change in food. It’s pretty much the same. We’ve played some really bad games on the road; I’m not going to lie. But we’ve also played some very good games on the road that we’ve either lost late or couldn’t quite finish off. I think that has something to do with a young team — learning how to win those games on the road. We’re very close a lot of times.”
To realize just how bad the Pirates have been on the road this season consider this: they have only five road wins since the All-Star break. They have also had a 14-game losing streak and a 17-game losing streak away from PNC Park this season. The Pirates have been outscored by their opponents by 204 runs.
The Pirates must win at least one of the four remaining games in order to avoid becoming the first team in major league history with fewer than 17 games in an 81-away game schedule.
“We play great ball at home and we can’t on the road. There’s no excuse for that,” Garrett Jones said. “It could be just coincidence. Or at home, maybe, when we have a crowd behind us, it gives us that little extra push. It’s tough to say.”
Thankfully, the Pirates will avoid the worst Pirates road record in franchise history –The Pittsburgh Allegheny’s in 1890 who went 9-88 on the road.
“We’ve got to find a way to play better baseball on the road and put ourselves in position to win more games,” General Manager Neal Huntington said.
The Pirates can only hope to see improvements next season from the Bucs and figure out what went wrong.
“I’m sure there will be 10,000 studies on it and everybody’s opinion will come out,” Russell said. “Until you turn it around, it really doesn’t matter what you say about it. Until we start winning more games on the road, it’s always going to be a question. Once we do start winning games on the road, they’ll say it was a great learning experience for us. It’s kind of a catch-22. The best way to change things is win.”
It’s a moment baseball players dream of and John Bowker lived it during Tuesday’s night’s victory over the Cardinals. Bases loaded, two outs and a close 4-2 ball game. Bowker layed off the first pitch fastball by MacDougal.
“I just wanted to see what he had,” Bowker said. “I had never faced him before.”
He took the next pitch (fastball) and hit it into the left center gap, a bases clearing double, giving the Pirates a 7-2 lead.
“I’ll tell you what: When he hits the ball hard, he hits it really hard,” Russell said. “It was a great sign.”
Is John Bowker trying to make an impression on the Pirates staff?
“Yeah, I think everyone’s trying to make an impression. Whatever role that is. Tonight coming off the bench, definitely trying to.”
Garrett Jones is hitting well again after slumping horribly in August. Jones went 3-for-5 with three RBI and a monster home run he hit in the first inning –his 21st of the season–
“It was up,” Suppan said of the 1-0 changeup. “He’s a type of guy that can get his hands extended. I was trying to have some depth on the changeup and it just stayed up.”
“He feels a lot more comfortable at the plate and you can see it,” Russell said. “He’s getting to some balls that he wasn’t a few weeks ago.”
Brian Burres picked up his fourth win of the season after pitching 5.2 innings. He allowed two runs –one earned– on four hits, walked three and struck out zero. With Burres’ last start of the season he finishes (4-4) the only Pirates starter to finish at the .500 mark.
“When he keeps the ball down, he can be tough,” Russell said. “He got through some jams. We made some plays behind him on a couple really hard hit balls. He hung in there.”
A decent outing from Burres who was pulled after just two innings of work his last start.
“Last time, I got into a little bit of trouble and couldn’t get out of it,” Burres said, insisting that his game plan didn’t change. “This time, I made some better pitches and the defense made some good plays behind me.”
- With the 7-2 Victory the Pirates snapped a five-game losing streak on the road as well as eight straight losses at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
- Andrew McCutchen reached safely for his 23rd straight game.
- Ronny Cedeno’s error in the third inning was his fourth straight game with an error.
- Chris Resop made his first appearance since September 16th (right elbow) pitching a 1/3 of an inning, striking out one.
- Evan Meek pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out the side which included Pujols and Holliday.
- Alex Presley picked up his first Major League steal.
James McDonald will start on Wednesday against the Cardinals, but he will be monitored throughout the game. The Pirates said they will be watching J-Mac’s pitch efficiency –not a specific pitch count.
Wednesday’s start will be his final of the season. McDonald has already logged 41.1 more innings this season (134.2 IP) compared to 2009.
“He’s got one more start and he really, really wants to make it,” Russell said. “I respect that. I think his next start he should be much more efficient.”
There is still a chance that Lastings Milledge will make an appearance before the 2010 season ends. Milledge has begun to hit in the cage and will take part in batting practice later this week. If everything goes well, Milledge could play this weekend in Florida.
“The next step is to get him out there for batting practice,” manager John Russell said. “If we can get it to that point, there could be a possibility he could play before the season’s over.”
Lastings Milledge has been sidelined since 9/13 with a left oblique strain.
Ross Ohlendorf may be pitching in an instructional league as part of his off-season routine.
“We’ve got to see how he progresses,” Russell said. “He will need some down time before he gets back to work.”
Ohlendorf (upper back) has not pitched since 8/23.
With six games remaining of the season why would the Pirates be concerned with a few of the injured players playing time?
“Then you go into the off-season knowing [you're OK],” manager John Russell said. “I think it’s more of a mental thing than anything. If you go into the off-season knowing you didn’t get into a game, you’re going to have that on your mind until you get on the mound or start full-go.”
After winning 7-of-9 in the Pirates final home stand of the season, you hope some of that momentum carries through onto the final road games of the year. And it did as the Buccos battled the Red Birds but a few mistakes ended up being costly in the 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.
A mistake -an unfortunate act, an incorrect act or decision, an error, a misunderstanding
Unfortunately for the Bucs, the mistakes made during Monday night’s game ending up costing the Pirates their eighth win in the past 10 games.
An unfortunate act; Charlie Morton was pitching a pretty good game until the sixth inning got a little rocky. After intentionally walking Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday took Morton’s one bad pitch –a changeup– into the stands for a two-run home run that tied the game at four.
“I wanted it to go a little more inside,” Morton said afterward. “It just didn’t do anything. It stayed there for him, and he did what he does.”
An incorrect act or decision;The Pirates had the bases loaded in the seventh inning, one out, and John Bowker was up next. Manager John Russell pulled Bowker and replaced him with righty- Andy LaRoche. Two problems with this scenario. The first, LaRoche is a horrible pinch hitter and he has just one hit in his last 22 at-bats. The second, Reyes was allowing lefties to bat .307 against him. To replace Bowker (lefty) with LaRoche (righty) is mind boggling. Andy LaRoche hit into an inning ending double-play.
What was Russell’s reasoning for this move? Or what didn’t he use Young or Doumit’s bat from the bench instead?
“Ryan and Delwyn aren’t as efficient versus left-handed pitchers,” Russell explained. “Andy got a big sac fly for us [on Sunday], and he’s feeling better at the plate. We tried to match up the best way he could.”
“It would have been nice to push a run across there — at least one, maybe more,” Russell said. “We couldn’t do it.”
An error; In the seventh inning, a routine grounder was hit to shortstop Ronny Cedeno. His throw sailed way over the head of 6’4″ Garrett Jones and the Cardinals scored the go-ahead run.
“I’ve got to make that play,” said Cedeno, who has committed an error in three straight games. “It cost us the game. I have to be better than that.”
“I didn’t get a good route or get in a good position to field the ball,” he said. “I was coming in, and the guy can run. I’m trying to make the play, but it was bad.”
The Cardinals scored an insurance run in the eighth inning when Chan Ho Park’s pitch hit off Jay’s foot and flew to the backstop. Doumit tried to argue with the ump, but it was ruled as a wild-pitch. Re-plays clearly showed it was fouled off his foot. (Why didn’t John Russell argue that call, by the way?)
The crucial mistakes allowed the Cardinals to win the game, 6-4 –keeping them one game from being eliminated from the post-season. The mistakes also overshadowed some good performances on the night as well.
Pedro Alvarez –who was the N.L. Player of the Week– had yet another monstrous game. He went 3-for-3 with two RBI, a walk, and a homerun that was estimated to go 427 feet.
“I’m just glad I’ve been putting some good pieces on some good balls,” Alvarez said. “This game has slowed down a lot more. I’m just learning how to play this game at this next level.”
Charlie Morton –despite allowing the two-run homerun to Holliday– pitched a decent outing. Four runs on 10 hits, struck out four through six innings pitched.
“I feel like instead of finishing a game and being confused by what happened — and frustrated in general — well, now I know,” Morton said. “I made a stupid pitch. I didn’t execute.”
The Pirates have only four road wins since the All-Star break and need to finish the season 3-6 in order to match the worst road record set in 1963 by the Mets.
The Pirates continued to play good baseball on the last game of the 2010 season at PNC Park in front of 23,208 fans –beating the Astros 9-2 and finishing the final home stand 7-2.
Picking up the 40th victory of the season, the Pirates finished the season just one game below .500 at home.
“As long as our season was, Pirate fans are phenomenal,” manager John Russell said. “They are great to us. They appreciate what we do. They want a winner here. The city has really stuck behind us.”
A few of the players felt the same way.
“It was a great way to finish the season at home,” Andy LaRoche said. “It’s a great way to keep the fans excited about next season and about what we’re capable of.”
“Through the thick and thin, they’ve always been there,” Walker added.
A 1-0 game through six, the Pirates finally broke through the Astros’ J.A. Happ and put some runs on the board. Garrett Jones was issued a four-pitch walk and Pedro Alvarez’s single advanced him to third. Cedeno hit a short chopper to third base, fielded by Johnson. Jones was caught in the run-down, but scored when the throw to Castro was late and dropped.
The Pirates caught a break and took advantage of it. LaRoche hit a Sac Fly, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Seven more runs were put on the board in the final two at-bats.
“They battled throughout the game and finally broke through,” Maholm said. “That’s huge.”
Neil Walker contributed to three RBI’s and Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run double. Ryan Doumit had a pinch-hit RBI single. Jose Tabata hustled out an infield hit. Even Alex Presley’s speed couldn’t be stopped as he ran out to third, the Astros throw not in time.
All Good signs from the Pirates young core.
“When we started this home stand, we really emphasized finishing strong at home, not only for ourselves but for our city,” Russell said. “They put a lot of focus into this home stand. I’m really proud of the way they played here.”
Paul Maholm picked up his second straight victory. He pitched seven innings allowing just one run and matched his season high– seven strikeouts.
“I think I’ve gotten back into a rhythm with my mechanics and am throwing all my pitches to where the confidence is there,” Maholm said. “The last few outings have been what I need to pitch like. That’s what I expect.”
Evan Meek gave up a two-run home run to Hunter Pence. But that didn’t rain on the Pirates parade. They took two-of-three from the Astros and won the finale game of the season at home, 9-3.
“We tried to make people remember that we’re still playing hard around here and moving in the right direction,” second baseman Neil Walker said. “There’s still something to play for. We’re trying to get a nice head of momentum going into the off-season and going into next year.”
The Pirates have seven games remaining of the 2010 season, all on the road. It’s been rough for the Buccos going 15-59.
“To continue to finish strong, I think, is meaningful,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “It’s important for these young men out there to finish on a good note heading into the off-season.”
Garrett Jones is swinging the bat well again. In his past 10 games, Jones is batting .324 despite not having a homerun since August 31st. Jones entered August batting .274, which dipped down to .247 by the end of the month.
“Something I feel like I’ve been doing the best all year this past two weeks is being able to drive the ball the other way,” Jones said. “And just hitting line drives, not thinking home runs, just hitting line drives and being more productive at the plate.”
Jones tried altering his batting stance during his rough stretch, which actually made things worse.
“It was a domino effect there and it got to the point where I was just screwed up,” Jones said.
“In the beginning of the season they were pitching me down and away, down and away, down and away,” he said. “I was getting anxious trying to pull the ball, thinking about hitting a home run, and not just taking what the pitcher was giving me.”
Since then, Jones has been taking a more simplier approach to the plate, and focoused on hitting the pitch wherever he can.