Charlie Mortons spot in the rotation may not be there much longer.
San Diego Padres 8, Pittsburgh Pirates 2
38,000 plus fans showed up today at PNC, the 15th sellout of the season. The Pirates however did not. A series that should have been manageable for the Bucs turned into one of letdown and missed opportunities. The Padres win their 14th straight series in Pittsburgh, somehow they have still never dropped a series to the Bucs at PNC. Your Pirates move to 62-55 on the year. It looks like the Cards are gonna win today so that means the Pirates will move back to 3rd place in the NL Central. The Pirates should remain in 2nd place in Wild Card standings as the Giants look like they are going to lose to the Royals. The shuffle in the standings continue as it will the rest of the way out. With the Tigers coming to town its hard to feel good about where this team is after dropping the series to the Padres.
Tyson Ross was able to stifle the Bucs enough to put his team in a spot to take the game and the series. He went 6 innings, giving up six hits, two runs (both earned), while walking two and striking out three. Ross earned the win today, moving to 11-10 on the year. The Pads bullpen held strong after his exit. Boyer, Thayer and Stauffer combined for three scoreless innings of work to close out the Pirates.
Charlie Morton was miserable in his 24th game of the year. Despite going three innings without surrendering a hit, the tide turned quickly for Morton and the Bucs. Chuck went five, giving up five hits on five runs, all of which were earned. He walked just one, struck out five along with a wild-pitch and hit batsman credited to him today. The loss takes Morton to a dismal 5-11 this year. Morton had control early on, when that 5th came arguably too much control. He left too many pitches over the plate and lost control over the secondary pitches. When the sinker doesn't sink, Charlie is very average. Morton has been the Pirates worst starter this second half of the season. Sure he still hasn't gotten the run support that the other Pirates starters have been able to, but most of the time he hasn't pitched well enough to deserve it. He's lost his last 4 decisions, giving up 14 earned runs in 23 innings of work. If the time comes where someone has to move out of the rotation, a strong case can be made that Morton should be the guy. He doesn't have reliever makeup, so the bullpen likely wouldn't be an option. You have to go with the guys who are getting it done, right now Charlie Morton isn't one of them. The only way the Pirates can stay in playoff contention is with quality pitching, especially from the starters. I would have a short leash if I were Pirates management, a couple bad starts from a guy and before you know it you're watching from home come playoff time.
The Pirates got on the board first coming off the bat of Gregory Polanco. El Coffee blasted a two run home run after a Marte single to give the Pirates their only runs on the day. San Diego got one across in the 4th to cut the Pirate lead to one. Then, trouble came in the 5th. After loading the bases Morton allowed a 3-run triple to Seth Smith. That was the deciding moment in the game. The Bucs went down 5-2 following that inning. Pimentel came on in the 6th and worked two innings. He allowed another run to the Padres in the 7th, making it 6-2. Jeanmar Gomez came on in the 8th. He worked a worked a scoreless 8th before giving up to runs in the 9th. The Pirate bats were silent after the first inning. They don't seem to have an issue getting on the board early. Opposite to what we saw out west. They are scoring early then getting complacent and going stagnant. Against the Tigers coming up they're gonna need a little bit of both. It will be tough to get runs off of their starters but their bullpen can be susceptible. We will see what we get.
The top of the lineup continues to perform for the Bucs. No matter who is written in to those first three spots, they have came through. 1-3 in the Pirates order are batting well over .400. It's the rest of the lineup that continues to struggle. Polanco and Mercer were the lone Pirates with multiple hits in today's game. Polanco was responsible for the only two Pirate runs with his two-run homer in the first. Tough day for Nix, Snider and Stewart. They were a combined 2-10, leaving ten base runners stranded in their plate appearances. That's absolutely horrible. The Pirates and the fans are starting to see how bad things can get with the type of lineups they're sending out there. Just as easily as you can put up a crooked number you can get shellacked by a 54-62 Padres team.
Gregory Polanco is your Bucco of the Game! He went 2-4 today, driving in the Pirates only two runs with a home run in the bottom of the first.
It will be interesting to see in the next couple of days what roster moves the Pirates make. The bullpen needs to be leveled out, they've been running a man down. Walker appears to need more time, may need to lose the selfishness and send him to the DL. All reports say Cutch is getting back to health very quickly and that he is doing exceptionally well. The way Neil Huntington talked today on the pre game show, he made it sound that he has an open mind to still going out and getting someone to improve the team. Better late than never. But really, it's getting a little late here Neil. Not sure how much any player can help you for just a couple of weeks.
I'd like to address the lingering Pirate injuries. I've been really upset about this and I will go back to what I said before. WHAT ARE THE PIRATE TRAINERS DOING? This is now the third time we have seen this. Cutch in Arizona...they let him play the day after being hit, he ends up straining himself and coming out of the lineup with a back injury. Starling Marte before that...he was hit in the head with a pitch, stayed in the game. The next day, out of the lineup and still hasn't fully gotten back to where he was since then. Now Walker, he comes out of the game with back tightness. Okay, so they treat him let him sit a few days. Then, last night he pinch hits. Now, he's back on the shelf and the Pirates can't post-date a DL stint. Why does this keep happening? If a guy is hurt then sit him. Don't let him go back out there or give it a shot if it mean extra days out of the lineup. Somebody isn't doing their job.
Gerrit Cole went 6 IP today at Indy, giving up just one hit while striking out three. It's good to see he bounced back from getting roughed up in his earlier rehab start there. The Bucs need him back, they need him now. Personally, I don't care if the guy is at 50% of where they want him. He will be able to go out there and keep ya in ball games.
Unfortunately, it's the Tigers next up for the Pirates. They come into town tomorrow for a home and home with the Bucs. Two games here and then the Pirates will head to Detroit for two. We won't see David Price but the rest of the rotation is just as strong. Arguably the toughest test for the Pirates all year. If the Pirates go out there like they did in this series, the Tigers will run them off the field. Need good starts from the rotation and some magic out of the bats like we saw a couple of times. The lineups are still going to be ugly, so don't even waste your breath complaining about them.
First pitch tomorrow at 7:05. Jeff Locke (3-3, 3.78) takes the mound for the Bucs against Justin Verlander (63-51) for the Tigers.