McCutchen Explodes for 3 Dingers as Bucs Roll

In the midst of so much negative press regarding the dismantling of a last place club, it is nice to know that the Pirates will be getting some good publicity as the result of some on the field play. Rookie Andrew McCutchen hit three homers, drove in six and scored four times asn the Pirates beat up on Washington.

McCutchen homered in the first, the fourth and the sixth. He singled and scored in the third.

All the fireworks went to support Virgil Vasquez’ second career win. It wasn’t a pretty outing for him. He gave up nine hits and two walks in five innings. But the Nats only scored three times.

Rookie Craig Stammen took the loss, giving up six runs in three innings.

The Good

Cutch

Five hitters collected two knocks or more

The Bad

Nothing. Just bask in the McCutchen glow.

The Rest

Former Pirate Ron Villone tossed 2-1/3 of scoreless, one hit ball in relief. The lone hit was a double from Garrett Jones. He got McCutchen to ground into an inning ending DP to prevent a fourth dinger.

Nyjer Morgan was 3-4, but made an error.

McCutchen is the first Pirate to hit three bombs in a game since Aramis Ramirez on 4/8/01. Going all the way back to the beginning of the Retrosheet era, McCutchen is the first Pirate rookie with three homers in a game. There might be someone earlier than the mid-1950s. But I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head who was a rookie for the Pirates and launched three dingers.

Cutch is the first Pirate to hit three homers in Pittsburgh since Darnell Coles on 9/30/87. He is the first Pirate to hit three homers in the same game off three different pitchers since Dr. Strangeglove Dick Stuart connected off of Mike McCormick, Billy Loes and Stu Miller back on 6/30/60.

 

 

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Revamped Bucs Beat Equally Downtrodden Nats

In a match up of two of the three worst teams in the NL, the Pirates and Ross Ohlendorf prevailed.Ohlendorf allowed just two runs on six hits in 6-1/3 innings of toil.

Lastings Milledge, making his Pirates debut, singled twice and drove in two runs. Steve Pearce connected for his first homer this season. Andrew McCutchen had two hits and scored twice.

John Lannan gave up all five runs in seven innings on nine hits. Matt Capps put two runners on in the 9th before closing out the game.

Three players were playing against the former clubs. Nyjer Morgan was 0-4 with a walk, a run scored, was picked off and made the last out with the tying run on base. Joel Hanrahan gave up two runs in 2-3 IP. Milledge was clearly the top performer.

The Good

Snapped a four game losing streak.

Ohlendorf has matched Zach Duke for the team lead in wins.

The Bad

The bullpen gave up two runs in 2-2/3 IP and Capps almost blew it in the 9th.

The Rest

After hitting .284 in June, McCutchen finished July hitting .277 for the month.

Results of players making their Pirates debut in 2009

Lastings Milledge – 2-3 with two RBI (July 31)

Jason Jaramillo – 1-3 (April 16)

Delwyn Young – 0-1 (April 17 as a PH)

Ramon Vazquez – 1-2 (April 6)

Eric Hinske – 1-1 (April 6)

Garrett Jones – 0-4 (July 1)

Craig Monroe – 0-1 (April 7)

Jeff Salazar – 0-1 (July 2)

That’s 8 new hitters through July. In 2008, there were 10 players who made their hitting debut for the Pirates. I’m certain that the 2009 club will catch up.

 

Are Milledge’s makeup issues exaggerated?

Quite a bit has been made recently about Lastings Milledge being a “cancer in the clubhouse.” While this could be true, I think fans are dismissing him pretty quickly based entirely on reputation. It did not help that his arrival meant the departure of Nyjer Morgan, a favorite among fans and teammates (and virtually everyone else that has ever known him). Anyway, Dejan lists the known transgressions in Milledge’s past in the PG’s article on the trade. Let’s take a look at them.

In 2007, Milledge performed on a profanity-laced rap album that prompted one New York city councilman to declare, “He’s lost his mind.”

Does anyone care about this? Is this the first time anyone has ever made a profane rap album? Has anyone ever listened to the vocabulary of an average major league player?

The previous year, he followed his first major league home run with a victory lap of high-fives with Shea Stadium fans.

From what I understand about this incident, he high-fived some fans on his way out to right field the next inning. It was not exactly a Cal Ripken type of victory lap. In fact, this action seems pretty Nyjer-ish.

Going back further, he was expelled from Northside Christian School in Florida amid allegations of inappropriate behavior with a 15-year-old girlfriend.

There does not seem to be much public information on this vague incident. Since I don’t know much about it, I will not claim that it is not a big deal. It very well might be an extremely big deal. Or maybe a high school boy was caught making out with a high school girl in the stairwell. I just don’t see any indication that this incident that occurred when Milledge was in high school will tear apart the clubhouse chemistry.

Milledge opened this season as the Nationals’ leadoff man, but it took only seven games — as well as a 4-for-24 slump and two missed team meetings — to tick off manager Manny Acta. He was sent down to Class AAA Syracuse, with no return trip scheduled.

That 4-for-24 slump is totally irrelevant. I don’t support a player skipping meetings, but if that is the worst thing Milledge has done, I think his attitude issues have been blown out of proportion.

Maybe Milledge will turn out to be a cancer in the clubhouse. I have no idea. What I do know is that I did some pretty stupid things in my early twenties. Most people have. Just because Milledge spent that part of his life as a celebrity in New York City does not automatically make him a bad person.

Ohlendorf Frustrates Cubs on Momentous Day

So why was this a momentous day? Two reasons:

1. The 100th anniversary of the opening of Forbes Field

2. For the second straight year the Pirates have traded away 2/3 of their starting outfield.

Ross Ohlendorf picked up his 7th win by tossing seven shutout innings to overshadow (at least temporarily) all of that. He allowed three singles, a double and no walks while striking out eight.

Freddy Sanchez played the role of a man picking up the empty pieces of an offense. He had a part in all three Pirate runs, driving in a pair and scoring the third. He also stole a base.

The Cubs didn’t threaten until they put two on with none gone against John Grabow in the 8th. But Grabow held on, whiffing Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome before getting Derrek Lee to ground out. Matt Capps pitched the 9th for the save.

The Good

A winning June. First one since 1996. Unbelievable.

Nice job by Ohlendorf. Second on the staff in wins.

Need more of that from Sanchez.

I have to say I’m happy thus far on the return for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett. Lastings Milledge seems to have been around for a while, but he just turned 24. The only member of the club younger than him is Andrew McCutchen.

Ted Lilly gave up all three runs to the Pirates. The first of which scored when Freddy Sanchez scored from second on a strike three when Geovany Soto’s throw to Lilly covering home went through the pitcher’s wickets.

The Bad

McCutchen is just 1-18. His first struggle at this level. Hopefully he works out of it soon.

Delwyn Young has two hits in his last 18 at bats.

The Rest

Ohlendorf established a single game mark for whiffs.

Welcome Garrett Jones who was brought up from Indy before the game. He didn’t appear tonight. He spent the better part of the last four years in AAA averaging better than 20 homers a year.

Lilly was 3-0 in his career against the Pirates coming in.

Harden Holds Back Bucs

This offense is likely to drive one to drink. Maybe not this one, but someone out there. Rich Harden gave up nine hits and one walk in seven innings, but the Pirates collected just one run off him. Harden started off strong, limiting the Pirates to just two base runners over the first four innings. However, the Pirates scored once in the fifth (despite four hits), had two hits in the sixth and two more hits in the seventh. But that lone run in the fifth was all she wrote.

Zach Duke deserved better. He also went seven and gave up all three Chicago runs. He gave up seven hits and a walk. Big blows were delivered by Ryan Theriot (solo tater) and Milton Bradley (RBI double).

Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg finished for Harden.

The Good

Duke seems like a different pitcher in 2009. And that is definitely good.

Nyjer Morgan had three singles.

Andrew McCutchen had his first hit in four games.

The Bad

Wicked hot Andy LaRoche was 0-4 with three whiffs.

The Rest

This was Harden’s first career appearance against Pittsburgh.

After winning his first four career decisions against the Cubs, Duke has now lost six straight.

Vasquez Sharp in Bucs Debut

Exit Ian Snell, enter Virgil Vasquez. The Pirates waiver wire acquisition who hadn’t tossed in the Show since 2007 picked up his first career win with six solid innings. He allowed four hits and two runs, while whiffing seven. He took the roster spot of the struggling Ian Snell who was sent to Indianapolis to get straightened out.

The Pirates trailed 2-0 early but came back on the shoulders of three unlikely power sources. Jack Wilson, Nyjer Morgan and Jason Jaramillo each homered to hand the loss to Gil Meche.

Matt Capps finished up by allowing a home run in the 9th and putting the tying run on base.

The Good

Welcome Virgil Vasquez! More, please!

Andrew McCutchen had his hitting streak stopped but reached base on an HBP and BB and scored both times.

The Bad

The offense continues to just get by with enough runs in putting together a three game winning streak.

The Rest

Vasquez joins Steven Jackson as Pirates who notched their first career win in 2009.

Vasquez’ seven K performance is second best on the team in June. He topped seven whiffs at AAA Indy this season just once.

Jack Wilson has raised his BA 20 points in the last 10 games by hitting safely in 9 of 10 contests and piling up four multi-hit games.

McCutchen Rallies Bucs Past Tribe

Anyone here not impressed by Andrew McCutchen. The Bucs rookie CF was involved in all three Pirate runs – scoring once and driving in two – as the Pirates erased a two run deficit against Cliff Lee.

Lee and Ross Ohlendorf each allowed two runs in seven innings of work. Neither got the decision. That would be left to the bullpens. Both relief corps walked the bases loaded in the 8th. For the Pirates John Grabow walked three but escaped when he whiffed Ryan Garko. Earlier in the inning Nyjer Morgan tracked down a long fly off the bat of Victor Martinez. Joe Smith walked two in 1/3 IP and Rafael Perez walked one, but got Jason Jaramillo to ground into an inning ending DP.

Matt Herges was on in the 9th but gave up three straight singles – to Jack Wilson, Eric Hinske and Cutch – for a walk off win for the Pirates. Matt Capps tossed the 9th for his first win of the year.

The Good

Have to be happy taking 2 of 3.

Ohlendorf was fine, allowing five hits and three walks in seven.

McCutchen has a 13 game hitting streak.

The Bad

The offense continues to gimp along. There was clutchness when it counted most tonight.

The Rest

This was the fourth time this year Ohlendorf pitched seven or more innings. Ian Snell has gone that far just three times. Jeff Karstens pitched seven or more just once in his 10 starts before being pulled from the rotation.

A scary thought hit me that Cutch’s start is too reminiscent of Chris Duffy’s hot start back in 2005.

Jack Wilson had his fifth game this year with three or more hits. He had just five such games in all of 2008.