By John Perrotto
*Analysis, Rumblings & Musings*
Jamie Moyer is as studious as any pitcher in the major leagues.
The Colorado Rockies left-hander has no choice. A 49-year-old pitcher with a fastball that tops out at 79 mph can't possibly be successful without knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing hitters.
Thus, the Pirates should be encouraged by Moyer's assessment of their offense. Despite allowing just one run in six innings in his start Tuesday night at PNC Park, Moyer was impressed by the Pirates' lineup.
"They're going score runs, especially in this ballpark," Moyer said. "They have dangerous hitters and some young guys with a lot of talent. They really battled me. My line in the box score probably looks better than it should. I felt fortunate to come out of it having allowed only one run."
The Pirates remain last in the major leagues in runs per game (2.28), on-base percentage (.269) and slugging percentage (.325).
However, the Pirates showed signs of life in taking two of three from the Rockies this week at PNC Park. The Pirates scored five runs in both wins, which may not seem like a lot but matched their season high. Furthermore, they had 30 hits in the series.
Of course, that good news is tempered by the fact the Rockies are allowing 4.89 runs a game, which is the worst mark in the National League.
"We're not on any milk cartons yet," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, referring to his offense.
The biggest development of the series for the Pirates was third baseman Pedro Alvarez (.156 avg - 4 HR - 6 RBI) hitting home runs in both games of Wednesday's doubleheader. He became just the second Pirates player to accomplish that feat since 1991, joining Rob Mackowiak, who did so in 2004.
Alvarez's batting average is still a sickly .156 and his on-base percentage is an anemic .174. However, his slugging percentage is .444 as four of his six hits have been home runs. The homers provide hope that Alvarez can still turn into the middle-of-the-order threat the Pirates believed they were drafting when they used the No. 2 overall selection on him in 2008.
"I'm just thankful for getting the opportunities I'm getting with the way I've been struggling," Alvarez said. "It's just a matter of going out there and trying to compete, trying not to over-analyze the situation and keep things as simple as possible. I think when you just go out and trust your ability and play the game that everything takes care of itself."
In other matters:
--No one has ever questioned right-hander James McDonald's (0-1, 2.78 ERA) pure ability. It was on display in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and wound up allowing just one run and one hit in seven innings with eight strikeouts.
Yet, as one member of the Pirates' brain trust pointed out, who knows what to expect from McDonald the next time he takes the mound Monday at Atlanta. "It's like he steps right up to the edge of being a top-of-the-rotation starter then backs away," the front office type said. "I really don't think James understands how good he can be."
-- The scouts who have been following the Pirates since spring training are falling in love with left fielder Alex Presley (.284 avg - 1 HR - 4 RBI). "He's a real energy guy," one scout said. "He makes things happen. Even though they are struggling to score runs, he adds some life to that lineup."
--The Pirates are the lowest-scoring team in baseball yet lead the major leagues with 19 infield hits. There has to be a correlation in there somewhere.
John Perrotto has covered the Pirates and Major League Baseball for 25 years.