By no means was it pretty, but the Pittsburgh Pirates did just enough to take two of three games from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Here are my takeaways from the weekend that was.
This bullpen is still a mess
I feel as though every series I have been critical of the bullpen, so forgive me if there is repetition, but this is getting ridiculous.
All weekend the bullpen did not rise up to the task and once again clearly was the weak link.
Regardless of weather, it should not take eight or 10 runs to defeat this Diamondbacks team and everyone slipped up.
Clint Hurdle asked Tony Watson on Friday to try and go two innings. Why? Because he did not have trust in the rest of his bullpen and Watson still let him down. Mark Melancon then had to get a four-out save. That hasn’t happened since he was with the Houston Astros.
Middle relief continues to be a mess, and I would be here all week if I had to address all of the shortcomings.
All you need to know is somehow Arquimedes Caminero got a save in the 13th inning of Sunday’s game after Melancon blew his first save of the season by allowing a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt.
Jared Hughes is coming back very soon, but I am unsure if that is even the answer any more. This bullpen is a mess, and the Pirates clearly got a bit too confident in what they had based on past success.
This was bound to happen at some point, but that does not mean there is an excuse for it happening.
With the Chicago Cubs off to such a big lead and the Pirates facing inferior competition all month, the bullpen has set them back in a big way.
Something has to change and fast, especially with Coors Field, such a hitter-friendly venue, on tap.
I can’t say I saw this one coming.
Sean Rodriguez has shown some power and as a result has deservedly earned more playing time.
Manager Clint Hurdle has always stood by Rodriguez because of his flexibility but last year was a bit rough offensively.
Rodriguez was hampered a bit by having to clean up the mess Pedro Alvarez consistently left him toward the end of games at first base but now is free to move about the field.
This freedom seems to have simplified his approach at the plate and frankly made him more comfortable.
I will admit when the Pirates re-signed Rodriguez, I was a bit skeptical. His bat was a liability throughout the summer and toward the end of the regular season, he seemed to be involved in several of the benches clearing incidents.
Rodriguez appears more focused and motivated this season. He lets his bat do the talking and frankly this past weekend it spoke quite a bit.
If he continues to perform at this level, then it will be hard for Hurdle to not put him in the everyday lineup.
Liriano learns from mistake
After a Welington Castillo three-run homer, Francisco Liriano had to regroup and fast.
Liriano takes a lot of pride in how he pitches, and the Pirates once again rewarded him with an Opening Day start.
Since that appearance, Liriano has not pitched like that leader and while injury was a part of it, executing pitches was a larger piece to this puzzle.
From there, Liriano took care of business and this outing had to be a big one for him even if the bullpen was unable to hold the lead and secure a win.
It is not easy sitting down for an extended period of time such as that the fourth inning provided. The Pirates scored five runs in the frame and Liriano came to the mound.
The big at-bat was Jean Segura’s. Liriano got away with a pitch as the umpire called strike three on a 3-2 pitch out of the zone.
Liriano then struck out the other two batters he faced that inning and showed he was able to settle down.
It is unknown if Liriano was fully healthy in his start earlier in the week against San Diego, but he was not getting away with pitches he normally gets called strikes and paid the price.