The Pittsburgh Pirates have won 3 of 4 and the buzz around the team is about their new 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup with Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.
Both played prominent roles in Saturday night’s win as McCutchen had four hits, including a homer, and Walker (2-for-3, 3B, RBI) reached base three times leading the Pirates (23-32) to a 6-3 win over the San Francisco Giants (29-25).
In the Pirates four game homestand, McCutchen and Walker have combined to go 13-for-29 with 2 home runs and 7 RBI’s.
The story of the Pirates season through two months is clearly Walker. Walker the teams 1st round pick in 2004 was all but written off by the Pirates. Even just a few weeks ago, the Pirates evaluated him as nothing more than a utility player at best.
Although 10 games is not a long-term sampling, Walker (.359, 1HR – 6 RBI’s) has developed tremendously as a hitter that this doesn’t look like a typical false hope hot run at the plate that for example Andy LaRoche goes on from time to time.
Three scouts interviewed by John Perrotto in early May believed it was finally all coming together for Walker and it clearly has. “It’s all coming together for him,” one scout said, when interviewed last month. “He’s finally playing with confidence and he’s going to be a good big-league player, not a superstar, but a good player.”
Pirates management indicated during spring training that this season is about winning but truly this season is about the Pirates finding out what they have from the likes of prospects Walker, Lincoln, ect.
Walker has a ways to go to solidify his status as an above average MLB player but he’s showing a lot of promise at the plate and in the field to potentially be a long-term fixture at a position the Pirates had major questions at for the short-term and long-term after the departure of Freddy Sanchez. He’s a player fans should be excited about.
Last night’s game marked the 162nd career game for Andrew McCutchen and his numbers through what can be catergorized as a full season are impressive.
His numbers through 162 games include a .297 average, 19 home runs, 108 runs, 71 RBIs, and 35 stolen bases.
*Ryan Doumit has seen extensive work this week fielding balls at first base with infield instructor Carlos Garcia.
*The Pirates are being patient with Charlie Morton who is expected to make a rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis within the next week. GM Neal Huntington said on Saturday that Morton is making “quality progress”
Morton is expected to make at least two starts in Triple-A.
Morton was placed on the DL (May 28th) with what the Pirates describe as shoulder fatigue. Morton was 1-9 with a 9.35 ERA in 10 starts.
The Pirates will look to make it 2 of 3 this afternoon (1:35 p.m.) against the San Francisco Giants. Ross Ohlendorf (0-3) will take the mound against CY Young winner Tim Lincecum.
1. McCutchen, CF
2. Walker, 2B
3. Doumit, C
4. Jones, RF
5. Milledge, LF
6. Clement, 1B
7. LaRoche, 3B
8. Cedeno, SS
9. Ohlendorf, P