Andrew McCutchen as a No. 3 hitter?

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andrew mccutchen headshot.jpgAndrew McCutchen quickly earned the
reputation as an offensive dynamo in his rookie season, batting
.286/.365/.471 with 12 home runs, nine triples, 26 doubles, 54 RBI, 74
runs scored and 22 stolen bases in 443 at-bats, all of them out of the
leadoff spot. But after the acquisition of Akinori Iwamura from the Rays last month, manager
John Russell has at least begun to
consider the 23-year-old McCutchen as his No. 3 hitter:

“I’ve thought about it, especially if Aki does a nice job. We’ll see
how it goes,” Russell said. “But Cutch has been in the majors for three
months, and he did awfully well for us at the top. If it ain’t broke,
don’t fix it. All around baseball, you hear teams talk about how they
want a leadoff hitter. Well, we’ve got some good options.”

With his .354 career on-base
percentage and 10.1% career walk rate, Iwamura is another solid on-base
option for Russell, but don’t expect this to happen anytime soon. Even
with Hanley Ramirez, the transition from leadoff hitter to full-time
No. 3 hitter took three seasons. Especially with a run-starved team like the
Pirates, he’s best utilized at the top.

Photo of the Day: Colby Rasmus just wants to love on everybody

Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus hit a big home run last night to set off the scoring and to set the tone for the Astros.

After the game he spoke to Jeff Passan of Yahoo and voiced some nice perspective and maturity as well, acknowledging that his time and St. Louis and Toronto left him with a reputation that he’d rather not have follow him around forever, saying “I don’t want them to say Colby Rasmus was a piece of crap because he had all of this time and just wanted to be a douche. I just try to love on everybody.”

Fair. By the way, this is what Rasmus looked like either just before or just after telling reporters that he “just tries to love on everybody.”


Ready for some lovin’?

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.