MORNING PIRATES BUZZ
The Pittsburgh Pirates sitting at 10-8 on the season through 18 games, have won nine of 12 games and took three of four against the Atlanta Braves who came into the four game series with a 12-2 record.
After dropping the first game of the series, 6-4, the Pirates took the next three, outscoring Atlanta 13-3 and the team got strong pitching performances from starters Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, the bullpen as a whole and some clutch hitting from the likes of Gaby Sanchez and Clint Barmes in key situations.
“We’re capable of playing very good baseball, and we just did that on this homestand,” manager Clint Hurdle said of the Pirates nine game home stand.
The Pirates hit the road today for four game series against the Philadelphia Phillies (8-11). A.J. Burnett (1-2, 2.63 ERA) takes the mound for the Pirates and rookie Jonathan Pettibone will make his first Major League start for the Phillies. The 22 year old is 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in two starts with Triple-A Leigh this season. He went 13-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 26 starts at AA and AAA last season.
(1) Jonathan Sanchez (0-2, 11.12 ERA) has numbers that many evaluators expected to see, 0-2 with a 11.12 ERA. The main issue for him has been his inability to go deep into games. The Pirates had to pull him after the third inning yesterday as he threw 75 pitches. “Jonathan got us to a point where we felt we could manage the game,” Hurdle said. “He wasn’t sharp and by no means is he happy.
(2) Neal Huntington continues to show his strong suit of building a bullpen. It’s been a huge strength for him in his 5+ years as GM and the bullpen has been excellent to start the year. Mark Melancon (0.82 ERA, 6 holds) has been great in an eighth inning role and Jason Grilli (0.00 ERA, 7 saves) has been lights out so far in a full-time closer role for the first time in his career. Even Jeanmar Gomez has been a pleasant surprise giving the Pirates some key innings and has an 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings pitched.
(3) From Elias Sports Bureau on the Pirates bullpen going six innings Sunday afternoon and reliever Justin Wilson getting the win: “Five Pirates pitchers combined to shut down the Braves for six innings in relief of Jonathan Sanchez to help Pittsburgh top Atlanta, 4-2. Justin Wilson was credited with the win and Jason Grilli earned the save. It was the first victory for the Pirates’ bullpen in a nine-inning game in which it pitched six or more innings without being charged with a run since September 25, 2009, when the Bucs beat the Dodgers, 3-1, despite a three-inning start from Jeff Karstens. The winner in that game was Donnie Veal and Matt Capps notched a save.” — Elias