Posts Tagged ‘Lastings Milledge’

Pirates beat 8/28

August 29, 2010 Comments off

Morton poised for Sunday start

MILWAUKEE — Three months after he was sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis, right-hander Charlie Morton will start for the Pirates on Sunday against the Brewers.

In a move that had been expected since Ross Ohlendorf hit the disabled list earlier in the week, Morton will be recalled from Triple-A for Sunday’s start, while reliever Justin Thomas has been optioned back to Indianapolis to make room on the 25-man roster.

Morton made 14 starts for Indianapolis, posting a 4-4 mark with a 3.83 ERA. In 80 innings of work, Morton recorded 53 strikeouts against 30 walks.

Since giving up four runs in a July 27 start at Syracuse, the past four starts for Morton have been impressive. Morton has allowed just four earned runs on 17 hits in 24 innings over that stretch. He’s also struck out 17 batters while walking nine.

In his last outing against Louisville, Morton tossed six shutout innings, allowing just four hits while striking out four batters.

“I think he’s rebuilding and working on a lot of things down there to get himself mentally and physically ready. I think he’s made great strides,” said Pirates manager John Russell. “We wanted to get him back up here at some point and the opportunity arose for tomorrow. We’re anxious to see how he does.”

Before he lost his starting role in late May and was sent down to Indianapolis, Morton was 1-9 with a 9.35 ERA in 10 starts. For his career, Morton is 10-26 with a 6.13 ERA as a starter, giving up 145 earned runs over 213 innings of work.

Morton’s best start to date in the big leagues was his last of 2009, as he tossed a four-hit shutout against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sept. 30.

After struggling through the first two months of the 2010 season, Russell hopes the time in the Minors will help Morton get back to the type of pitcher he showed he could be with that dazzling performance in Chicago.

“I think he’s learned a lot this year,” Russell said. “I think it’s important that it’s going to be a good building block for him moving forward. It’s part of the learning process. It’s part of the things guys need to do.”

If Morton pitches well Sunday at Miller Park, does Russell see the rotation staying as it is for a while, with the 26-year-old right-hander in it?

“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” Russell said. “I’m anxious to see him pitch again. He’s got tremendous stuff and he’s a guy that should be able to pitch at this level and be very effective.”

Switch-hitting Doumit getting more at-bats

MILWAUKEE — One look at his batting splits will quickly tell you that Ryan Doumit is a better left-handed hitter than he is right-handed. Even so, his manager thinks it’s important to give Doumit some starts in right field against left-handed pitching.

“I think it’s important just to stick him in there right-handed,” John Russell said. “Being a switch hitter, you need the at-bats right-handed against left-handed pitching.”

Since being moved primarily to right field this month with the acquisition of catcher Chris Snyder, Doumit has seen most of his starts come against right-handed starters. Conversely, right-handed hitting Lastings Milledge has typically been in against lefties.

While it’s tough enough to juggle Doumit, Milledge and Snyder as it is, Doumit’s ability to hit from both sides throws another wrinkle into Russell’s plans. Of course, Russell is not exactly a fan of a strict platoon to begin with, so that makes things easier.

If Doumit is swinging the bat well from both sides of the plate, Russell would have no problem starting him every day, regardless of if it were a left- or right-handed starter.

“I think if you look at it, any time you hear that, if you break it down and look at it, you rarely find that it’s just a straight platoon,” Russell said. “That’s why I’ve never been a big believer in it. What we try to do is put guys in a situation where we feel like we’ve got a chance to win and they’re going to have some success.”

Russell likes what he sees in McDonald

MILWAUKEE — Had it not been for some tough luck on what appeared to be a routine out in right field, Pirates starter James McDonald may have delivered one of the best starts of his young career on Friday night.

Instead, he and manager John Russell were forced to continue to focus on the preparation and the process, and not the result. One thing Russell particularly liked was McDonald’s efficiency through the first five innings.

In the first inning, McDonald needed 11 pitches to retire the Brewers in order. For the second inning, it took 12 pitches. The third inning, which featured a bunt single, took 16 pitches. McDonald recovered by tossing just 13 and 11 pitches while facing the minimum again in the fourth and fifth.

“I felt like when I had them two strikes and had them in the hole, I made a pitch and kind of made them induce contact,” McDonald said. “[I got them to] swing early in the count, and tried to keep the game going.”

Even when he started giving up runs, McDonald didn’t use many pitches. Facing five batters in the sixth, it took McDonald 16 pitches to escape with just one run allowed. Finally, in the seventh, when he recorded just one out through six batters, McDonald tossed 19 pitches.

All told, McDonald needed no more than those 19 pitches in any inning while totaling 98 on the night. Through five innings, though, McDonald needed just 63 tosses while facing only one over the minimum and striking out six batters.

“I really liked the way James was efficient in the zone,” Russell said. “He has a tendency in some of his starts of getting ahead and it takes him awhile to put them away. Last night he was doing a good job of getting the outs quickly.

“At times, he was dominant. It’s good to see and it’s good for him to continue to build off that.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McDonald, Bucs fall to big Brewers rally

August 29, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Sometimes in baseball, one inning is all it takes to change a game. For the Pirates on Friday, that inning was the bottom of the seventh.

Entering the inning, they held a one-run lead over the Brewers and looked for starter James McDonald to deliver one final solid inning before handing it over to the bullpen. When the inning came to a close, the Pirates trailed by five runs — as they lost the series opener, 7-2, at Miller Park.

Within that seventh inning, the turning point came with two on and one out, as rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar drove a 1-1 fastball over the head of right fielder Lastings Milledge for a two-run, game-winning triple.

Off the bat, it looked like a routine line out to right field. As it reached Milledge, it was anything but.

“When I hit the ball, I thought, ‘He’s got it,'” Escobar said. “Then he turned around and lost the ball, and I ran.”

“I looked up at the last minute and the lights got in my face,” Milledge said. “That’s a play that I make every day of the week. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the play. It cost us big. I make that play in my back pocket every day of the week.”

Following Milledge’s misplay on the Escobar triple, the Brewers tacked on four more runs on a pair of singles and two doubles, sending 12 batters to the plate before the Pirates finally got out of the inning.

While an out on Escobar’s triple could have saved the game for the Pirates, things really got out of hand when starter James McDonald and reliever Chris Resop were unable to close out the inning over the next five batters.

“They’re one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball anyway. Just one play is all they need,” Milledge said. “We were still in the game, only one run down, and they just took it over the top. It’s what they do.”

Milwaukee’s six-run, six-hit rally in the seventh inning marred what had been a spectacular performance by McDonald.

Through five innings, the right-hander had allowed just one hit — a bunt single by Escobar — with zero walks and six strikeouts. In the sixth, McDonald made a big pitch to left fielder Ryan Braun to induce an inning-ending double play.

But in the seventh, Braun managed to put the exclamation point on the Brewers’ victory.

“I thought McDonald threw the ball very well,” said Pirates manager John Russell. “He just couldn’t get out of that inning. After that, he just couldn’t get back in the dugout. You can’t give up six runs in the seventh.”

McDonald finished with 6 1/3 innings pitched, surrendering six runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and a pair of walks. The outing was McDonald’s second-longest this season — but it was also his worst in terms of runs allowed.

Before the game, Russell talked about focusing on the preparation and process, while ignoring the result. When asked about his start afterward, McDonald seemed to be following that mentality.

“It’s not frustrating, things happen. We played hard. Things didn’t fall our way,” McDonald said. “I felt like I had good stuff today. Sometimes I’ve had great stuff and I’m out in the fourth inning. I still went deep in the game. Things didn’t fall our way, but we’ll get them next time.”

Through five innings, though, things were falling the Pirates’ way.

Milledge got things started in the second, leading off with a double and coming around to score two batters later on an RBI single by Ronny Cedeno. In the fifth, catcher Chris Snyder added another run with a one-out solo homer off Brewers starter Chris Narveson.

But while Narveson (10-7) was not as sharp as McDonald through the first five innings, he benefited from the Brewers’ big seventh inning, picking up his first win since Aug. 3 and matching his second-longest outing of the season — going seven strong while allowing just two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.

It looked through five innings like the Pirates would finally snap yet another double-digit road losing skid. Instead, the streak climbs to 11 straight losses away from PNC Park.

For Milledge, though, the way the team has played in the last week far outweighs the Pirates’ 11-game road losing streak.

“You can say what you want to say about 11 straight, it doesn’t matter, we’ve still got a chance to win the series,” he said. “We’ve been playing good baseball here the last 4-5 days — it just got away from us today. We’re going to come back tomorrow and get it done.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates beat 7/9

July 9, 2010 Comments off

Pirates continue to struggle away from home

MILWAUKEE — After being swept in Houston, the road woes have continued this week for the Pirates, who have lost 21 of their last 23 away from PNC Park.

For manager John Russell, the trend is hard to figure out.

“It’s tough. I’ve never really seen much like it,” Russell said. “We can’t win on the road. I think it’s got to become a mentality at some point for these guys that they need to rise to the occasion on the road more.”

One thing Russell pointed out was a struggle in two key areas of the game: getting good pitching and scoring runs on the road.

Aside from that, Russell sees more mistakes away from home as well.

“I think on the road, we’ve found ways to kind of beat ourselves more than we do at home,” Russell said. “Especially the road trip when we lost a couple games in Detroit, if we make a couple plays we win. The same way in Oakland.

“Things that we need to do better as a team we don’t do. Part of that is youth, part of it is not making the play.”

Over the last 23 road games, the Pirates’ only wins have come in Chicago, when they took two of three from the Cubs from June 28-30. The club also took two of three from the Cubs at Wrigley Field in May.

Along with the two road series victories in Chicago, the Pirates have won just one other road series this season, April 19-21 in Milwaukee. The series victory snapped a 22-game losing skid for the Pirates at Miller Park.

Outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge have both enjoyed plenty of success against the Brewers in their careers.

Entering Friday’s game, McCutchen had hit safely in 15 of his 17 career games against Milwaukee, going 26-for-75 (.347) with seven doubles, four home runs and 10 RBIs. At Miller Park, McCutchen’s average was even better as he owned a 12-for-31 (.387) mark.

Milledge had been even better in Milwaukee, going 20-for-45 (.444) in his last 11 games at Miller Park after going hitless in six at-bats in his first game in Milwaukee.

With that in mind, the Pirates will be looking to add a fourth road series win this weekend.

“We do it in Chicago, we play well there,” Russell said. “So we talked about that. We talked to the players a little bit about that, of the intensity and focus we have when we play in Chicago and trying to get that same focus.”

Reliever Gallagher expected to fill many roles

MILWAUKEE — After joining the club on Thursday in Houston, reliever Sean Gallagher was expected by manager John Russell to be available if needed Friday.

He’ll pitch in a middle-relief role for the club in the short term, though Russell expressed an interest Friday in stretching the right-hander out.

“We’d like to because he has that capability,” Russell said. “He’s got four pitches, he has started before. I think he’s going to be a guy that we could use in that multi-inning role.”

Gallagher was acquired by the Pirates on Wednesday, as they sent cash to the Padres in exchange for the right-hander, who had been designated for assignment by San Diego.

With the move to Pittsburgh comes a bit of familiarity for Gallagher, who began his Major League career with the National League Central rival Chicago Cubs.

Additionally, Gallagher pitched for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League this past offseason, where Pirates first-base coach Carlos Garcia also was the manager. Garcia’s pitching coach on that Magallanes club was Pirates assistant pitching coach Ray Searage.

With that familiarity, Russell and his coaching staff likes the flexibility of Gallagher and what that could bring to the pitching staff.

“At some point, he is going to get stretched out,” Russell said. “That’ll be kind of the value that he brings as a guy that can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen.

“We’ll see how it goes, he could work his way toward the back side a little bit or he gives us an option as a spot starter.”

D’Arnaud added to Eastern League ASG roster

MILWAUKEE — With a spot opening on the roster, the Harrisburg Senators and the Eastern League announced Friday that Double-A Altoona Curve shortstop Chase D’Arnaud was added to the Western Division roster for the Eastern League All-Star Game.

D’Arnaud replaces Richmond infielder Brandon Crawford, who is unable to play and will not be attending the game on July 14 at Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, Pa.

With D’Arnaud marking the sixth Curve player selected to the All-Star Game, the Curve have tied the franchise mark for most players chosen in a single year. During the 2006 and ’07 seasons, the Curve also had six representatives.

Along with Harrisburg, the Curve have now tied for the most representatives on the Western Division roster. With seven selections, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern Division led all Eastern league teams.

D’Arnaud, the Pirates’ fourth-round pick out of Pepperdine in 2008, joins teammates Derek Hankins, Rudy Owens, Matt Hague, Josh Harrison and Hector Gimenez as the club’s representatives in the All-Star Game.

Worth noting

The Pirates announced Friday the signing of three more players from the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, all right-handed pitchers: 27th-round pick Kevin Kiels, out of Grossmont College; 41st-round pick Bryton Trepagnier, from East St. John High School; and 49th-round selection Logan Pevny of West Milford High School. … Friday marked the seven-year anniversary of the “Randall Simon incident” during the Sausage Race at Miller Park.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.