Pirates Pre-Game Buzz
Since spring training, a common phrase coming from the visitors locker room is that Charlie Morton is a “completely different pitcher”.
After throwing his 2nd career complete game in Friday’s 6-1 win over the first place Cincinnati Reds, those same comments were coming out of the Reds locker room on Friday night.
“He’s a completely different pitcher now, ” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. Against one of the National League’s most prolific offenses, Morton shut them down, limiting the Reds to just 5 hits and 1 run in 9 innings. Morton gave up a solo home run to Bruce with 2 outs and no one on.
Morton has showed progress with just about every start this season and Friday night it came full circle for him.
He showed great command (which had been an issue), walking just 2 batters and throwing 81 of his 110 pitches as strikes.
A key for Morton was throwing a first pitch strike to 23 of the 34 batters he faced.
That gave him an opportunity to stay away from his fastball and be very aggressive with his sinker which scouts say is one of the best in the league when Morton shows command.
The Reds had no answers for Morton’s sinker that showed great movement and velocity.
He got 15 outs on groundouts.
Through three starts, Morton is 2-0 on the season with a 1.64 Era.
There has been a large enough sampling through spring training and the regular season that Morton has now truly turned the corner. Most impressive about his rebound is how he’s dealt with adversity and showing a strong emphasis on working on his mechanics on a start-by-start basis.
Hurdle to stick with new lineup
What can’t be lost in Friday’s win was the Pirates finally breaking out offensively.
Jose Tabata had a career high 4 hits, Chris Snyder had 3 hits, Garrett Jones (2) and Neil Walker (3) homered for the Pirates.
Even Pedro Alvarez got into the mix, collecting his second extra base hit of the season with a double.
The only disappointment of the night was Andrew McCutchen going 0-for-5 with 4 strikeouts. McCutchen is now batting .196 on the season. He is 2-for-28 in his last 7 games.
Hurdle said on Friday he will be sticking with his new lineup for a while.
Pirates (6-7) @ Reds (8-5)
James McDonald (0-0, 5.56 ERA) vs Mike Leake (1-0, 6.75 ERA)
1:10 p.m. start:
James McDonald takes the mound for the Pirates this afternoon. He is looking for his 2nd career road win. Mcdonald is 0-4 with a 4.15 ERA in six road starts with the Pirates. His only road win was in 2009.
Player to watch for Pittsburgh is Lyle Overbay who is a career .424 hitter in Cincinnati.
The Pirates who are 5-2 on the road can get back to .500 today with a victory.
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF, .196
2. Jose Tabata, LF, .354
3. Lyle Overbay, 1B, .260
4. Neil Walker, 2B, .333
5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, .196
6. Garrett Jones, RF, .219
7. Ryan Doumit, C,
8. Ronny Cedeno, SS, .189
9. James McDonald, P