The Pittsburgh Pirates enter play Sunday afternoon losers of 10 out of its past 12 games and are looking to avoid dropping a fourth consecutive series, this time against the Cincinnati Reds.
Ryan Vogelsong (3-4, 4.07 ERA) will be facing Brandon Finnegan (8-10, 4.17 ERA). Vogelsong is coming off a no decision against the St. Louis Cardinals in which he allowed five runs on six hits over four innings.
He is 5-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 21 career appearances (11 starts) against the Reds.
Finnegan is coming off a no-decision Tuesday in which he allowed two runs on three hits in five innings against the New York Mets. This is Finnegan’s 29th start of the season and second career appearance against these Pirates.
His first appearance came Oct. 3 of last season and he got the win allowing a run on three hits in six innings.
Delivering with runners on
Drew Hutchison blew a four-run lead allowing four runs in the fourth inning. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle cautioned reporters that Hutchison had done this in the minor leagues and it proved to be his undoing as the right-handed pitcher was removed for the game after the inning ended.
He is not the only one guilty of some mechanical work when runners are on base. Hurdle offered generalities when discussing the issue of pitching in such a scenario.
“Hurrying your delivery to slow down the runner and the running game is never going to work,” he said. “Holding the ball, stepping off, different release times as far as your holds all are much more beneficial. I’ve had conversations with Maury Wills and watch Vince Coleman and Willie Wilson. All of them said their biggest challenge was when the pitcher held the ball.”
In the minors there are pitchers who sometimes do not have the chance to deal with runners on base so much and have to make the adjustment once they are called up to the major leagues. Hurdle put Tyler Glasnow in this category.
Glasnow is available in a bullpen capacity but was not used in last night’s game. Hurdle was tempted to use Glasnow after Jeff Locke pitched two scoreless innings, but the Pirates offense made a dent in the Reds lead and instead the bullpen phone rang asking for Juan Nicasio to warm-up.
Pitching from the stretch is not the easiest of things to do, but the Pirates have a program in place to try to make it an advantage. Veteran pitchers have remarked that they pitch from the stretch during their pregame bullpen sessions which is something different from programs other teams use.
“It’s one of the ways we try to reinforce it and develop turning it into a good habit,” said Hurdle.
- Jordy Mercer SS
- Josh Bell RF
- Andrew McCutchen CF
- Jung Ho Kang 3B
- David Freese 1B
- Gregory Polanco LF
- Sean Rodriguez 2B
- Chris Stewart C
- Ryan Vogelsong P
- Tyler Holt CF
- Eugenio Suarez 3B
- Joey Votto 1B
- Adam Duvall LF
- Brandon Phillips 2B
- Scott Schebler RF
- Ramon Cabrera C
- Ivan De Jesus Jr. SS
- Brandon Finnegan P
Bottom of the ninth
Sunday marks the start of the NFL season for nearly all teams and the Pirates clubhouse was buzzing. While the media was talking with Hurdle, the players cranked familiar FOX NFL Sunday and NFL Network jingled that not even a closed door could hold the sound out of.
Several players are participating in the annual fantasy league with each of their respective first-round draft picks represented in the form of their jersey hanging from their clubhouse areas.
There was not much trash talk, as much of that was provided by Travis Snider who is no longer with the team.
According to Jared Hughes, there is a new trash talk sheriff in town, though his selection has a decent amount of bias attached to it.
“The way (Rick) Sofield deals with his Giants is tough to deal with sometimes,” he said. “It’s tough to handle. He was running around acting like he was kicking off the football. He’s all fired up. The Giants are going against the Cowboys tonight and (Jordy) Mercer, myself, (Chris) Stewart and (Chad) Kuhl are all Cowboys people, so hopefully we’re going to take down Sofield’s Giants.”
There was no status update for Josh Harrison (right groin discomfort), though Hurdle likely will keep him out of this game… This game ends a stretch of 24 consecutive games in which the Pirates faced a right-handed starting pitcher. The Pirates are 18-8 in games started by a left-handed pitcher this season.