Tag: Pedro Alvarez

Ryan Zimmerman

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights


Nationals 8, Yankees 6: Down by four after four and a half innings, the Nats chipped back and then won the whole dang thing on a Ryan Zimmerman two-run walkoff homer in the tenth inning. Bryce Harper homered too. It was his 15th, which leads the NL. Washington is now 13-4 in May and are tied for first place in the NL East. So much for all of that April hand-wringing.

Cardinals 10, Mets 2: Not gonna say that this was a laugher, but Cardinals lefty specialist Randy Choate actually had a plate appearance here. Drew a walk! The guy has played for 15 years. This was just his sixth plate appearance ever — his first since 2004 — and the first time he has ever reached base. I wonder if anyone gave him a GPS in order to find first. Randy Grichuk drove in three and every Cardinals starter had a hit except for Matt Holliday.

Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 2: A.J. Pollock hit a pinch-hit, tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth. The righty Pollock hit it off of lefty Mike Dunn. Chip Hale said after the game that Pollock would not have been used as a pinch hitter if the Marlins had a righty up in the pen, ready to bring in to face Pollock:

“We were watching the pen real carefully and there was no righty up at the time,” Hale said. “That was the only way I was going to use him for Peralta. If there had been a righty up I probably wouldn’t have done it.”

After the game, new Marlins manager Dan Jennings said that he had his lefty face Pollock because he “went with the gut feeling.” That gut, at that point in time, had less than two full games’ managerial experience in it.

Twins 8, Pirates 5: A lot of weird things here. Like, in the second, Joe Mauer came up with the bases loaded and poked a single through the left side. Just a weak rolling grounder hit the opposite way. And it cleared the dang bases:

Clint Hurdle’s comments about that play after the game were harsh, but fair:

Oh, and Pedro Alvarez hit a home run into the Allegheny River on the fly. And it landed in a boat. For real:

461 feet.

Angels 3, Blue Jays 2: Hector Santiago has started eight games this year. In six of them, this one included, he has allowed one earned run or fewer. Not too shabby. Especially given how well the Blue Jays have hit left-handers this year.

Brewers 8, Tigers 1: Six runs in the third inning for the Brewers, thanks in part to back-to-back-to-back homers from Ryan Braun, Adam Lind and Aramis Ramirez. Note: you can hit back-to-back-to-back homers, but three guys can’t stand back-to-back-to-back. Physically impossible. Baseball is a funny game.

Orioles 9, Mariners 4: Jimmy Paredes homered and drove in four. Paredes has reached base in 20 straight games. His big game came at a good time too, as last year’s DH, Nelson Cruz, was in town. He homered, but the local fans had no reason to long for him last night.

Red Sox 4, Rangers 3: The otherwise slumping Mike Napoli went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI. David Ortiz homered too and Wade Miley pitched well (7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 7K), which hasn’t happened too often lately.

Rays 5, Braves 3: The Rays took advantage of Braves starter Mike Foltzynewicz to the tune of eight hits, a walk and five runs in five innings. He struck out seven, but the stuff I said about him last week still holds. The Rays have won five of seven.

Indians 3, White Sox 1: Trevor Bauer snapped the White Sox’ winning streak by pitching one-run ball into the eighth and striking out seven. He has made three starts against Chicago this year and has owned them completely.

Royals 3, Reds 0: Yordano Ventura, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis combined for a four-hit shutout. This after the Royals shut out their last opponent, the Yankees, on Sunday. Johnny Cueto took the loss and is now 3-4. He has received a total of two runs of support in those four losses. He’s probably going to be dealt at the deadline. I’m guessing he can’t wait.

Astros 6, Athletics 4: Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus each hit two-run homers. Houston has the best record in the American League and Oakland has lost five of six.

Rockies 6, Phillies 5: Philly’s six-game winning streak is over, as Nick Hundley hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth. The Rockies, despite the win, struck out ten times. That’s the seventh straight game in which they’ve done that. According to the gamer, that’s one shy of the record, currently held by the 2011 San Diego Padres.

Padres 4, Cubs 3: James Shields got a no-decision, but he struck out 11 while allowing two runs in seven innings, outdueling Jason Hammel. Derek Norris hit a two-run double in the eighth to break a tie. Former University of San Diego player Kris Bryant made his return to town and went 1-for4.

Giants 2, Dodgers 0: Six and a third shutout innings for Tim Hudson as the Giants win their fourth in a row. They’re three and a half back in the west. Which is fairly interesting.

Video: Giants win when batted ball hits Angels’ runner for the final out

Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson pitched eight effective innings for the Giants, but his bullpen was in the process of taking him out of the running for the win when Lady Luck helped out on defense.

Hudson started the ninth inning, but issued a lead-off walk to Collin Cowgill, so manager Bruce Bochy took him out and brought in Sergio Romo. Romo allowed a one-out single to Mike Trout to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Albert Pujols, who had homered earlier in the game. Romo struck him out.

With the left-handed-hitting Kole Calhoun coming to the plate, Bochy brought in southpaw Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt, however, gave up an RBI single to Calhoun, which brought the Angels closer at 5-3. Closer Santiago Casilla then came in to try to end the threat. David Freese singled to center to bring in another run, making it 5-4. Taylor Featherston came in as a pinch-runner for Freese at first base.

The Angels were, then, down by one run with runners on the corners and two outs in the top of the ninth. Matt Joyce swung at Casilla’s first offering, a 92 MPH fastball. The Giants were shifted to the right side, but none of their three infielders on that side had a chance to make a play on the ball as it hit Featherston. By rule, Featherston was out and the game ended. Second baseman Joe Panik, played in right field, probably could have made a play on it, but there was always the chance he misplayed it in some fashion. It’s certainly one of the more unconventional ways with which to win a ballgame.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

Mookie Betts

Red Sox 9, Nationals 4: The Mookie Betts show. A three-run homer, a home run-saving catch. Two stolen bases on one play because the Nationals, apparently, forgot that when you’re in a shift, no one is covering a third, leaving that bag wide open. The Nats defense overall was a total disaster, with mental lapses, balls plopping onto the turf between two fielders and all of that jazz. It’s been like that the entire first week of the season. Which shows you that, even when you’re everyone’s World Series favorite, you still have to play good baseball.

Mets 2, Phillies 0: The Phillies are going to make a lot of pitchers look good this year, even the bad ones. So when a good one like Jacob deGrom faces them, welp, this sort of thing is going to happen. A shutout into the seventh supported by an infield single and a sac fly.

Pirates 5, Tigers 4: The dream of 162-0 is over for the Tigers. Alas. They had their chances, but Jared Hughes bailed Gerrit Cole out of a a no-out, bases-loaded situation in the seventh and Mark Melancon bent but did not break in the ninth. Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart all homered for Pittsburgh, which has won 3 of 4.

Royals 12, Twins 3: The Royals, however, still have a shot at 162-0, right? At this rate, why not? The bullpen has been amazing and unlike last year they’re not jus eking by in the one run games. Get this:

Rany later went back and checked and, yes, that extends back to the beginning of the American League as well.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4: Carlos Gomez had two hits and an RBI for the Brewers in what Ron Roenicke called “an ugly win.” But this play from K-Rod was pretty:

Rockies 2, Giants 0: The Giants raised their banner and carried out their trophies and stuff, then got shut out. Rockies rookie starter Eddie Butler outdueled Giants rookie starter Chris Heston, tossing five and a third shutout innings. Heston only allowed one earned run, but the Rockies’ second run was his fault as he committed an error to allow a run to score. The earned run rules are dumb.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: Stephen Drew had to pinch hit for Brett Gardner after Gardner needed to exit following an earlier hit-by-pitch. No worries, as all Drew did was hit a grand slam in the seventh to put the Yankees up by two. Chris Young and Mark Teixeira also homered. That’s two in a row for the Yankees. Winning streak.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 1: The Rays runs scored on consecutive bases-loaded walks by R.A. Dickey. It was three walks in a row for Dickey, actually, all after he had recorded two outs. Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi allowed one run over eight innings to spoil the Jays home opener.

Braves 3, Marlins 2: Reading some news stories and random Twitter comments, the whole “the Braves are playing small ball, doing the little things” narrative is clearly starting to take hold. Someone call Whitey Herzog, then, and tell him that they’re defining small ball down. In the fourth it maybe sorta looked like small ball, as Christian Bethancourt made his way around the bases without the aid of a hit, but it also came via a Marlins throwing error and a wild pitch. And the inning ended with another Braves runner caught stealing. The other two runs came the next inning via a combo of single-double-single-single. Yes, the Braves have been really home run dependent, but stringing hits together is not the same thing as “small ball.” I know I probably should care — hey, my team won! — but I don’t want to encourage Fredi Gonzalez into thinking he’s some master button-pusher.

Angels 6, Rangers 3: The Rangers jumped out with three in the first, but Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker bounced back and didn’t allow anything else while pitching into the seventh. LAA got a pair of two-run homers from Collin Cowgill and David Freese in the fifth inning and they never looked back.

Cubs 7, Reds 6: Jon Lester was roughed up pretty good — and revealed that, yeah, maybe he has the yips — giving up six runs on 10 hits over six innings, putting his ERA at 7.84. Jorge Soler helped bail him out, however, hitting two two-run homers. The Reds bullpen imploded here, as they were up 6-4 when starter Mike Leake left after seven innings. Jumbo Diaz gave up one of those Soler homers to tie it. In the tenth everything unraveled, as relief pitchers who were not Aroldis Chapman allowed the Cubs to win. Such a shame that God Almighty Himself handed down that Commandment about not using your closer in a tie game on the road because He in all of His wisdom and glory has declared the save statistic to be sacred.

Athletics 8, Astros 1: Hey, Evan Gattis finally got a hit. His line on the season is now .042/.080/.042, which is sort of satisfying looking, aesthetically speaking. That was it for Houston highlights, however. Billy Butler hit a three-run homer in the fifth, but the game was already decided by then. Scott Kazmir allowed one run over six.

Dodgers 6, Mariners 5: Alex Guerrero hit a bases-loaded single with two outs in the 10th inning for the walkoff win, in a game the Dodgers trailed 4-0 in the fourth inning. Nelson Cruz hit two homers in a winning effort in a losing cause. Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy gave up four homers but also struck out ten dudes. That combo doesn’t happen often, according to the Elias Sports bureau. But I suppose both results are a function of guys on the other team hacking like hell.

Diamondbacks 8, Padres 4: Ender Inciarte hit two doubles, a triple and drove in four. If the sports headline in the Arizona Republic is not “Ender’s Game” today, I’m just giving up.

2015 Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

mccutchen hurdle getty

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Big Question: Can the Bucs make a third consecutive trip to the postseason?

In 2013, the Pirates snapped a painful 20-year October drought and advanced through the National League Wild Card Game to the NLDS, where they lost in five games to the division-rival Cardinals.

In 2014, the Pirates made it back to the National League Wild Card Game but fell to the eventual World Series-champion Giants.

Postseason baseball is an expectation now in Pittsburgh, and this 2015 group looks amply equipped to keep the tradition going. Let’s start with the outfield, which might be baseball’s best …

Andrew McCutchen, starting center fielder, has finished top three in the National League MVP voting each of the last three seasons. He posted a career-high and National League-leading 168 OPS+ in 2014 and he doesn’t turn 29 years old until October 10, 2015. A good defender to boot, “Cutch” is probably the second-best overall position player in the major leagues. Starling Marte, the Pirates’ 26-year-old starting left fielder, batted .291/.356/.453 with 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 135 games last season. He’s getting better every year, and the Pirates have him under contract through at least 2019 at a very team-friendly rate. Gregory Polanco, right field, was ranked a top 10 prospect by Baseball America before the 2014 season. He struggled in 89 games as a rookie, but well-built 23-year-old has all the tools to become a star.

These three can hit, field, and they’re all in or very near their baseball prime.

In the starting rotation the Pirates also have a couple of building blocks: Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. Cole battled a right lat injury in 2014 that limited him to 138 regular-season innings, but it shouldn’t be a lingering thing and he has looked sharp this spring in the Grapefruit League. The former No. 1 overall pick (2011, out of UCLA) boasts a 3.45 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9 through his first 255 1/3 career major league innings. He’s only 24 years old and under club control through 2019. Liriano was the biggest bargain of the offseason, re-signing with the Pirates for three years and $39 million in a free agent market where Ervin Santana scored four years, $55 million. Liriano has delivered a 3.20 ERA and 9.4 K/9 in 55 starts over the last two seasons with Pittsburgh. He’s only 31 years old — the same age as $155 million man Jon Lester.

It’s a strong core, and with a few surprises from other players on the roster the Pirates should be in the mix all year for another Wild Card spot and maybe even the National League Central title.

What else is going on?

  • Francisco Liriano has never pitched more than 200 innings in a season, and neither has Gerrit Cole. Pittsburgh will be hoping that changes in 2015 because the rest of the rotation is a little bit iffy. A.J. Burnett left money on the table to sign with the Bucs this offseason and he had great success in 2012-2013 under Pirates coaching coach Ray Searage — the new go-to reclamation project guru — but the 38-year-old righty posted a rough 4.59 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 34 starts last summer with the Phillies. He might be beyond saving. Charlie Morton had a pedestrian 96 ERA+ in 2014 and Vance Worley is due for some serious regression after managing a 2.85 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in his first 110 2/3 innings with the Bucs.
  • Top pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow may be able to provide some help in the second half. Taillon, the No. 29 prospect on Baseball America’s latest Top 100, is on his way back from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. He’s expected to start pitching in minor league games in May. Glasnow, No. 16 on Baseball America’s Top 100, hasn’t appeared in a game above High-A ball but looks to be a fast-riser. Baseball Prospectus recently ranked the Pirates’ farm system eighth overall.
  • Josh Harrison broke out in 2014 just as Pedro Alvarez’s defensive issues at third base began to boil over. Alvarez has been moved into a first-base platoon with Corey Hart and Harrison enters 2015 as the starter at the hot corner. Harrison was a 2014 National League All-Star and even earned MVP votes after batting .315/.347/.490 with 13 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 143 games. The 27-year-old began the 2014 season as a utilityman. It was quite a rise, though his past numbers suggest he is in for a dropoff.
  • Losing catcher Russell Martin to free agency leaves a sting, but the Pirates did pretty well to fill the void in acquiring Francisco Cervelli from the Yankees last November for lefty reliever Justin Wilson. Cervelli, 29, has batted .293/.372/.449 in 223 plate appearances over the last two seasons and is decent defensively. He shouldn’t be expected to carry that kind of batting line over a full starter’s slate, but something remotely close would be great. Cervelli is hitting very well in the Grapefruit League this spring.
  • Jung Ho Kang drew interest from a range of Major League Baseball teams this winter after hitting .356/.459/.739 with 40 home runs and 117 RBI in 117 games last season for the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. But it was the Pirates who landed him with a $5,002,015 posting fee and four-year, $11 million major league contract. Kang was a superstar in South Korea, and the usually-frugal Pittsburgh front office surprised a lot of people by nabbing him off the international market. $16 million isn’t a big amount of money for most clubs, but it is for the Pirates. Kang, 27, is expected to open the 2015 season in a utility infield role. If his defense is good enough, he could eventually steal playing time from shortstop Jordy Mercer, who batted .255 with a .305 on-base percentage in 2014.

Prediction: McCutchen, Marte, and Polanco will help lead the Pirates to a second place finish in the National League Central and a third straight appearance in the National League Wild Card Game.

Corey Hart is trying to make a comeback, with the Pirates and without his speed

Corey Hart

Corey Hart missed all of 2013 following knee surgery and might as well have missed all of last season too, hitting just .203 with a .590 OPS in 68 games for the Mariners while looking like a shell of his former All-Star self.

Hart signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Pirates this offseason and now the 33-year-old is on the comeback trail, telling Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he’s trying to adjust his overall game to no longer having plus speed:

Speed was definitely a big part of my game. But, right now instead of being tall and skinny, I filled out a little bit, so the weight is there and the knees are there. I’ll try to use the speed when I can, but I have to be smarter about the running process now.

Hart is 6-foot-6, but logged time in center field for the Brewers and swiped 20-plus bases in two different seasons. Those days are gone now, so Hart is focusing on getting his bat back to where it was when he ranked among the league’s top right-handed power hitters, batting .280 with 30 homers per season from 2010-2012.

He’ll likely begin this season in a part-time role, platooning with the left-handed-hitting Pedro Alvarez at first base, but he’s also a candidate to see some time in the outfield corners if the Pirates need reinforcements there.