1. VERLANDER’S ONE HIT SHUTOUT:
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander taking a no hitter into the ninth against the Pirates last night was not a surprise to anyone who follows the Pirates.
In the Tigers 6-0 shutout win, Verlander was just two outs from his third career no hitter until Josh Harrison with two strikes on him, bounced an outside breaking ball up the middle for the Pirates first hit of the game. Verlander stifiled the Pirates in his one hit shutout performance, striking out 12 and walking just two batters.
Verlander retired 18 straight batters at one point and hit 100 mph on his 93rd pitch of the game. Overall, Verlander threw 76 strikes on 109 pitches.
Some of the games best pitchers overmatching Pirate batters has been a common theme this season and likely will continue:
April 5, 2012 – PHI Roy Halladay threw 8 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits and 0 runs vs the Pirates. Halladay struck out 5 and walked none in the Phillies 1-0 win over Pirates.
April 11, 2012 – LAD Chad Billingsley allowed 5 hits and 1 run in six innings pitching, striking out 4 and walking none in the Dodgers 4-1 win over the Pirates.
April 13, 2012 – SF Matt Cain threw a complete game shutout gem, allowing 1 hit and 0 runs, while striking out 11 and walking none in the Giants 5-0 win.
May 4, 2012 – CIN Johnny Cueto threw a complete game, allowing 7 hits and 1 run in the Reds 4-1 win over the Pirates. Cueto struck out 4 and walked none in the victory.
May 10, 2012 – WAS Stephen Strasburg allowed 5 hits and 1 earned run in 6 innings pitched. Strasburg overmatched the Pirates, throwing 13 strikeouts and walking 3 in the Nationals 4-2 win at PNC Park.
May 11, 2012 – HOU Bud Norris threw six shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and 0 runs, while striking out 8 and walking none in the Astros 1-0 shutout win over the Pirates.
May 18, 2012 – DET Justin Verlander took a no hitter into the ninth and threw a one hit complete game shutout, striking out 12 and walking 2.
2. HERNANDEZ A LONGSHOT TO MAKE IMPACT AT THE PLATE: The Pirates callup of outfielder Gorky’s Hernandez on Friday puts another outfielder on the corners with little to no power. Hernandez who is regarded as the Pirates defensive outfielder prospect in their system, batted .266 with 2 home runs, 14 RBI, 5 doubles and 7 stolen bases in 38 games with Indy this season.
Most scouts see Hernandez long-term projection being nothing more than a No. 4 outfielder in the Majors.
3. FIVE STRAIGHT STRONG OUTINGs FOR COLE: 2011 top pick Gerrit Cole (2-1, 2.93 ERA) has allowed 2 earned runs or less in five straight starts. Thursday night with GM Neal Huntington in attendance, Cole allowed 5 hits and 1 run in six innings pitched, striking out 4 and allowing no walks in a no decision. Coming out of college, he should dominate Class-A and the Pirates hope he’s going in that direction as many believe he won’t be in the minors long.
4. MALKIN CONTINUES DOMINANCE IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: – Evgeni Malkin continued his dominance in the World Championships with a hat trick today, powering Russia to the Gold Medal game with a 6-2 win over Finland. Malkin scored twice on the power play in the win and now has 10 goals and 8 assists in nine games, tied for first in points and leading the tournament in goals and plus/minus rating (+14).
In what doesn’t surprise me, I’ve actually received complaints from fans this week via email about Malkin playing so well in the World Championships with a few ranting that he didn’t care enough about the NHL playoffs.
5. STEELERS O-LINE TALK: The Steelers decision to move Willie Colon to left guard is the right move and had to be made this summer or it might never have happened as Colon is now 29 years old. Moving Colon to left guard is also the right move from the standpoint that Marcus Gilbert won’t be transitioning to left tackle as now he gets to continue to grow at right tackle, the position the Steelers view him in long-term.
Those are the positives with the move:
The possible negatives with the move for this upcoming season is that it leads to some uncertainity of whether Colon can transition to left guard, while there’s a lot of uncertainity with the caliber of play at the left tackle position for the immediate future as rookie Mike Adams has a lot to prove that he’s going to actually be NFL ready in September, while behind Adams is Jonathan Scott and Trai Essex who will also battle for a depth spot at left tackle.
In reality the Steelers best offensive line for THIS SEASON from left to right would likely be:
LT Marcus Gilbert – LG Ramon Foster – C Maurkice Pouncey – RG David DeCastro – RT Willie Colon.
Colon going to left guard takes Ramon Foster out of the starting lineup as the Steelers will give Colon every opportunity to put his stamp on the position as the team has dished out a lot of money to him.