July 4: Pirates (37-43) @ Marlins (41-40); Happy 4th of July
Happy July 4th, everyone. Not sure why you’re busy reading this blog when you should be grilling out, headed to watch a fireworks show or enjoying time with family. But since baseball is America’s Pastime, I guess there’s a built-in excuse to check in for some baseball news, too.
There won’t be any BBQ for me (unless the press dining ladies here are so kind…), but I do get to look forward to a fireworks show and a concert from KC and the Sunshine Band later while I’m trying to write my gamestory. Maybe that would be more exciting if I actually knew who KC and the Sunshine Band was. Sorry for those who are now shaking their heads or wondering what planet I live on. But unless it’s country, I’m just not up on the music scene. At all. Past or present.
Well, folks, today also marks another milestone besides just our country’s 233rd birthday. It’s game #81, effectively marking the halfway point of the season. There have been huge steps forward made in some case (Zach Duke) and steps back by others (Ian Snell). Some have been consistent (Freddy Sanchez), while others have labored to show they belong as an everyday player (Brandon Moss). Some have arrived (oh boy, where do I start… Andrew McCutchen, Charlie Morton, Delwyn Young…), only to see others depart (Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett among them).
Still, the Pirates sit a respectable six games behind first-place St. Louis, though the team is still six games below .500. It’s still too early to tell if there will be relevant baseball in the second half of the season, though much of that will likely be determined by how these next eight days leading up to the All-Star Break go. If nothing else, the fact that the Pirates currently have eight rookies on the team — the most on any team in the Majors — should at least give us all a glimpse of what’s coming in the next few years.
As for today’s news, notes and randomness…
- Freddy Sanchez remained out of the lineup again on Saturday, again because of tightness in his lower back. Sanchez confirmed that the problem is back spasms — not a pulled muscle. He continues to get treatment, though it seemed unlikely that Sanchez would be able to take swings pregame, which makes his availability as a pinch hitter quite questionable.
- With Sanchez listed as day-to-day, it’s somewhat surprising to me that the Pirates have not opted to call up another infielder for protection — someone along the lines of Luis Cruz. If someone else in the middle infield were to go down, the Pirates really don’t have any replacements ready. And with Steve Pearce unlikely to get any playing time, it’d seem to make sense for him to be the one sent down to open a roster spot. Just me thinking outloud…
- Ryan Doumit went 0-for-5 with one strikeout as the DH in a Gulf Coast League game on Saturday. He is flying to Indianapolis tonight so that he can join the Triple-A team on Sunday and continue his rehab there. A door has been left open for Doumit to return before the All-Star Break.
- Both Indian pitchers — Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel – made their professional debuts on Saturday. Pitching for the GCL Pirates, Singh allowed two hits and one run in one inning. The left-hander struck out one and threw 19 pitches. Patel needed just eight pitches to get through his inning of relief. He struck out one and didn’t allow a baserunner.
- Pedro Alvarez returned to action for Double-A Altoona on Friday and went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts. Alvarez sat out for four days while dealing with left knee tendinitis.
- Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny continues to shine down in Triple-A, with his latest stellar outing coming on Friday. Gorzelanny pitched eight innings and was charged with just one unearned run. He gave up five hits and walked none while striking out five. He certainly seems to be the next candidate for a rotation spot in Pittsburgh.
- Speaking of Triple-A pitchers, Ian Snell is taking the mound for Indianapolis later this evening. It is his first start since striking out 17 — including 13 straight — in his 2009 Indy debut.
- Interestingly enough, the Pirates haven’t played a night game on July 4 since 1990. They lost that game 5-4 in San Diego.
- Manager John Russell did a bit more campaigning for Sanchez and Zach Duke to be included on the All-Star team. Those selections will be made on Sunday.
- The Pirates have won five straight (four this season) against the Marlins. That’s the longest streak since the Pirates won seven consecutive games against Florida from July 7, 2004 – June 1, 2005.
- The Pirates’ win on Friday was the first victory the team has had in Jack Wilson’s four games hitting second in the order. He’s there again on Saturday.
- As they did on Friday, the Pirates and Marlins will wear the “Stars and Stripes” caps again on Saturday. I was a bit confused to see the caps come out on Friday since we were originally told they’d be worn just on the weekend, but oh well. The caps are also available for purchase at mlb.com. For every cap purchased, MLB.com will donate at least $1 to Welcome Back Veterans, a program that addresses the mental health and job needs of returning American Veterans. So get shopping!
- Baseball is also honoring the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech on Saturday. All players and personnel will wear a “4ALS” patch to raise awareness for the fight against ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Each first base will also have that “4ALS” logo on it, and I’ve heard that Jeff Conine will be at Land Shark Stadium to read Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech before Saturday’s game.
- Some minor Minor League roster moves: Outfielder Jonel Pacheco and catcher Milver Reyes have been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A. Infielder Ray Chang was promoted from Single-A Lynchburg to Double-A Altoona.
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Jack Wilson (SS)
- Delwyn Young (RF)
- Adam LaRoche (1B)
- Garrett Jones (LF)
- Andy LaRoche (3B)
- Robinzon Diaz (C)
- Ramon Vazquez (SS)
- Zach Duke (LHP)
- Emilio Bonifacio (3B)
- Jeremy Hermida (LF)
- Hanley Ramirez (SS)
- Jorge Cantu (1B)
- Dan Uggla (2B)
- Cody Ross (CF)
- Ronny Paulino (C)
- Brett Carroll (RF)
- Andrew Miller (LHP)