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Insider Only Huntington: Alvarez starting to “trust his ability” as Pirates win big in Atlanta

Pedro Alvarez broke open a 2-2 tie with a two-run homer to right in the top of the 4th inning, giving the Pirates a 4-2 lead and the team never looked back, as Pittsburgh scored a season high nine runs en route to a 9-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves (14-9) on Monday night, splitting the four game series.
Alvarez two-run shot off lefty Mike Minor was just the second home run Minor has allowed in his career vs a left handed hitter.  Alvarez though was not the biggest star of the night as James McDonald recovered from a rough start to strike out a career high 10 batters, earning his first win.
However, Alvarez’s turnaround at the plate of late continues to be the biggest storyline in the past 10-12 days for the Pirates who improved to 10-12 on the year.
Belting his 5th home run of the season, Alvarez was 1-4 in the win and is 10-28 (.357) with 3 home runs, 7 RBI’s and 4 doubles in his last eight games and has 4 home runs over his last 10 games.
What has jumped out to GM Neal Huntington is Alvarez finally starting to trust his ability. “What jumps out is how he is trusting his ability, ” Huntington told Inside Pittsburgh on Monday night.
While the inconsistencies have clearly been there from Alvarez who leads Pirates with 23 strikeouts, through one month of the season, Alvarez now leads the Pirates with 5 home runs, 9 RBI’s, and 9 extra base hits.
“It’s good to see Pedro begin to take the work he has been doing in-pregame into the game setting, ” Huntington said tonight.
James McDonald (1-1, 2.97 ERA) had yet another promising start, striking out a career high 10 batters, earning his first win of the season.
McDonald allowed 7 hits and 3 runs and walked 2 in 7 2/3 innings. McDonald threw 114 pitches, 72 for strikes.
He gave up a two-run homer in the first inning but settled in to produce the Pirates first 10 strikeout game since September 5, 2009 when Ross Ohlendorf struck out 11.
McDonald in his last two starts has struck out 18 batters in 14 2/3 innings.
The Pirates have optioned reliever Evan Meek to Triple-A Indianapolis. Meek has struggled with his velocity and a corresponding move will be made on Tuesday. Meek (5.59 ERA) has appeared in 9 games, allowing 12 hits and 6 runs in 9 2/3 innings on the season.
Neil Walker (.276 – 0 HR – 6 RBI) is starting to heat up and had three hits in the victory, going 3-5 with an RBI, run scored and stolen base. Walker is batting .373 in his last 51 at-bats, after a poor start.
Yamaico Navarro (.176 – 1 HR – 4 RBI) started in left field and hit a two-run homer in the 6th, going 2-4 with 3 RBI’s in the victory. Navarro’s 4 RBI’s in 17 at-bats, ranks 6th on the team.
— The Pirates last in the major leagues with 58 runs in 22 games, scored more than five runs for the first time this season.
— The 1972 Milwaukee Brewers went a major league-record 31 games into the season without surpassing five runs, according STATS LLC.
— Pittsburgh has won 10 of 13 games when they score more than one run

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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