Posts Tagged ‘Pedro Alvarez’

Pirates beat 8/29

August 30, 2010 Comments off

Outfielder McCutchen out of Sunday’s lineup

MILWAUKEE — Through 129 games this season for the Pirates entering Sunday, center fielder Andrew McCutchen had played in 121 of them. When game No. 130 rolled around, McCutchen’s name was left, surprisingly, out of the lineup.

“It’s good I guess,” McCutchen said. “I don’t really have days off. It gives me time to just kind of chill, relax and get myself right. I’ll always be ready, though. You never know, it could be a close game and I could come in late. So I keep myself prepared and mentally ready to play.”

All but two of the eight previous games McCutchen had missed came in a mid-July stretch when he sat out six consecutive contests with a shoulder injury. After returning from that injury, McCutchen sat out another time just three games later.

Before that day off, McCutchen had not missed a game for the Pirates since the first week of May. With that in mind, the center fielder did not expect to sit out the series finale at Miller Park on Sunday.

“How can you expect it when you’re arguably the best player on the team?” remarked outfielder Lastings Milledge as he sat nearby at his locker.

“You don’t really expect a day off when you play every day,” McCutchen said. “I don’t mind playing every day. I’ve had my days off with me being injured, so it’s not like I’ve been playing the whole season. I guess they felt I needed one, so they gave me one.

“I’m not thinking too much about it.”

Alvarez moving forward after costly error

MILWAUKEE — With two out and a runner on third in the bottom of the seventh on Saturday, reliever Chan Ho Park got Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy to ground to third.

With a hard hit grounder, the ball hopped off the glove of Pirates rookie Pedro Alvarez, caroming over his left shoulder and into shallow left field to shortstop Ronny Cedeno.

“The ball kicked up on me a little bit,” Alvarez said. “It took a tough hop and I can’t predict something like that.”

As center fielder Lorenzo Cain scored easily from third, the Brewers tied the game at seven runs apiece, coming back from four runs down when the Pirates led, 6-2, in the third inning.

Alvarez appeared a bit indecisive on whether to charge the ball or wait back on it. He chose the latter, and could not make the play.

“It’s still a sign of youth,” said manager John Russell. “It’s a big moment, you get a little tense and [he will] continue to get better.”

The error was Alvarez’s 10th of the season, which ranks as the ninth-most among National League third basemen. With a .942 fielding percentage, Alvarez now sits 14th among those in the NL who have started 60 or more games at the hot corner.

Even with the error leading to a crucial run for the Brewers, it’s not one that Alvarez plans to spend much time worrying about.

“Obviously you never want that to happen,” Alvarez said. “I can’t worry about it anymore. I tried to get myself in the best position possible to catch it and I just couldn’t come up with it.”

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

Errors costly in Bucs’ extra-inning loss

August 29, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — One bad inning is all it takes to send you from a win to a loss. Within that inning, it’s often one hit or one defensive play that makes the difference.

It took two innings and two defensive miscues to complete the job on Saturday, but the seventh inning made all the difference for the second consecutive night at Miller Park as the Pirates lost, 8-7, to the Brewers.

On Friday, it was a six-run rally highlighted by a misplayed line drive to right field that turned into a game-winning two-run triple. In the second game of the series, a pair of errors by rookie infielders Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker allowed the Brewers’ tying and winning runs to score, respectively.

“We always know every time we come here it’s going to be a battle,” Walker said. “Four-run lead, three-run lead, whatever it may be, it’s never safe here when we play these guys.”

In a long game that featured 14 pitchers, 21 position players and lasted more than four hours, lefty reliever Wil Ledezma finally surrendered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th to rookie center fielder Lorenzo Cain, scoring Ryan Braun from second and sending the Brewers fans among a crowd of 37,782 home happy.

“That was awesome — my first Major League walk-off,” said Cain, who also scored the tying run in the seventh.

Without a fielding error by Walker at second base, the 11th inning may have turned out much differently. As Prince Fielder ripped a grounder toward the rookie second baseman, Walker misplayed it, allowing Braun to advance and putting Fielder aboard safely at first.

“It’s a play I’ve got to make. Plain and simple,” Walker said. “I’ll take the blame. We played our butts off today and a couple of mistakes just cost us the game.”

The other mistake for the Pirates came in that crucial seventh inning.

Entering the seventh inning, lefty Zach Duke was in line for his first career win at Miller Park and the Pirates led by three runs, sitting just three innings from their first road win since July 28 at Colorado.

But after reliever Sean Gallagher gave up a leadoff single to Braun, he was removed in favor of left-hander Brian Burres. As Burres hung a 1-2 slider on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Fielder didn’t miss it, sending the ball an estimated 455 feet to right-center field for his second home run of the game and his 20th career multi-homer game.

Four batters later, Chan Ho Park appeared to have gotten out of the inning, but a fielding error charged to Alvarez on a hard hit grounder to third allowed Cain to tie the game at 7.

“It’s a tough play, but again, it kind of shows our youth a little bit,” said Pirates manager John Russell. “We make those plays and it might be a different game, but the guys really battled. They kept after it.”

While he would have gotten the win had it not been for the seventh inning, Duke was not exactly sharp.

He allowed four runs on nine hits while walking one, recording one strikeout and surrendering a pair of solo home runs.

“It was definitely a battle from the first hitter on,” Duke said. “My location wasn’t very good and my stuff wasn’t all that great. Everything was giving me problems.”

Despite his struggles, Duke did outduel Brewers starter and fellow lefty Chris Capuano.

Starting in place of Manny Parra for Milwaukee, Capuano was roughed up for six runs on six hits in just three innings of work while walking three and giving up two home runs.

“I had flashes tonight where I thought I had great sequences to guys, and then I had flashes where I was having some problems with command,” Capuano said. “I have to do a better job than that. That’s obvious.”

Parra replaced Capuano in the fourth, and proceeded to put down nine of 10 batters faced through three innings of work. He gave up just one hit, a fourth-inning single to Walker, while striking out three batters.

Left fielder Jose Tabata highlighted the Pirates’ offensive outburst, as he homered in the first inning and finished 3-for-5, adding a double and a single. Catcher Chris Snyder also added his second home run of the series in the third, a three-run shot that put the Pirates up, 6-2, at the time.

Walker added a solo homer in the seventh — which appeared to be insurance for the Pirates — off reliever Mike McClendon. Seven runs marked the most scored by the Pirates since a 7-1 victory over the Marlins on Aug. 16.

The loss is the 12th straight on the road for the Pirates, and secures yet another road series loss for Pittsburgh. In 21 road series this season, including the current three-game set with the Brewers, the Pirates now have lost 16 series with just four series wins and one tie.

“It’s tough coming in here, but we battled with them tonight,” Duke said. “Hopefully we can get one tomorrow.”

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

Pirates beat 8/28

August 28, 2010 Comments off

Karstens not likely to miss another start

MILWAUKEE — The Pirates got some good news on Friday. It appears right-handed starter Jeff Karstens’ right arm fatigue is not likely to cost him another start.

After missing his last start on Wednesday, Karstens now looks to be on pace to make his scheduled start on Tuesday in Chicago. Karstens threw at Miller Park on Friday before the Pirates’ series opener with the Brewers.

“He had a light side today,” said Pirates manager John Russell. “It went good.”

LaRoche gets start against Brewers

MILWAUKEE — With the Brewers sending a left-handed starter to the mound on Friday against the Pirates, manager John Russell thought it would be a good time to give Pedro Alvarez the night off.

More importantly, though, Russell saw it as a good chance to get Andy LaRoche a start.

“Andy hasn’t played much,” Russell said. “We’ve been pinch-hitting him quite a bit — and I’d like to get him some at-bats so he feels a little more comfortable at the plate. We’ve been looking at it over the last four or five days moving into this week what would be a good day.

“With [Chris] Narveson pitching today, we thought it would be a good day to get Andy in there and get Pedro a day off.”

While Russell hopes the start will help LaRoche, he sees plenty of benefits in it for Alvarez as well.

“It’s not so much [that] Pedro needs the rest, it was more about getting Andy in the game,” Russell said. “[But] letting Pedro watch again, those young guys when they sit, they can learn a lot.”

This month, LaRoche has started just two games, once at first base and another time at third base. His last start came Aug. 10 at first base against the Padres in San Diego. Since then, he’s pinch-hit 10 times — going 1-for-10 with a single and two strikeouts.

As a pinch-hitter this season, LaRoche has gone 4-for-28 with two doubles and two RBIs along with six strikeouts and two walks. In 55 starts, LaRoche is batting .228 (45-for-197) with three homers, 12 RBIs, six doubles and 16 walks against 29 strikeouts.

“It’s tough for anybody when you’re used to playing a lot and you go to the bench — and you don’t get to play,” Russell said. “We’ve tried all year as much as we can to keep those guys in the game as much as we can and get them some starts here and there.

“It will help them when they pinch-hit. That’s a tough enough job without having any time. Giving them four at-bats every once in a while will help.”

McCutchen’s recent work impresses Russell

MILWAUKEE — Getting a spot start in place of Jeff Karstens on Wednesday, right-hander Daniel McCutchen impressed as he tossed six shutout innings in the Pirates’ 5-2 victory over the Cardinals at PNC Park.

His manager was equally impressed by McCutchen’s performance in relief leading up to the starting opportunity.

“I think he showed a lot more confidence out of the bullpen,” Russell said. “I thought he threw the ball pretty well. I think it kind of helped set up his start.”

McCutchen’s start was his first since July 31, also against the Cardinals. In that start, which was in St. Louis, McCutchen went 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits. McCutchen struck out just one batter while walking six as he took the loss.

In eight starts this season, McCutchen owns a 6.92 ERA — giving up 30 earned runs over 39 innings of work on his way to a 2-5 record with 20 walks and 20 strikeouts. As a reliever, McCutchen has an impressive 1.74 ERA — allowing just two runs on 11 hits over 10 1/3 innings of work in nine appearances.

“He was more aggressive. He was hitting his spots. I don’t think he was worried how deep he was going to go in the game,” Russell said. “I think he was just out there one hitter at a time, one inning at a time. I think that’s a good lesson that he learned from the bullpen — and if he does start again, it’s something he can draw onto.

“It is one pitch at a time. Execute this pitch, go to the next pitch.”

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

Hart’s walk-off HR lifts Brewers to sweep

July 11, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — It was the perfect ending to a great week for Corey Hart.

A week after being named to his second All-Star Game, the Brewers right fielder capped the first half of the season with his second walk-off home run on Sunday.

Hart, who had struggled through his first four at-bats of the game, crushed a 1-0 slider out to left off Pirates closer Octavio Dotel, giving the Brewers the 6-5 victory at Miller Park.

“I was trying to see something and get a hit,” Hart said. “When I hit it, I didn’t want to be one of those guys that put my hand way up in the air, so I gave it the half finger because I thought I got it.

“I knew it was going to be over his head, so I knew the run would score.”

Hart’s blast put an exclamation point on what is sure to be a memorable day for him, as he was named to the starting lineup of the National League All-Star squad as a replacement for injured Braves outfielder Jason Heyward.

Afterward, Hart was all smiles after his team-leading 21st home run saved the day for Milwaukee and sent the Brewers into the All-Star break on a positive note.

“They were giving Corey a lot of breaking balls,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “He finally got one up and didn’t miss it. That’s a nice ending to the first half.

“The climate in [the clubhouse] is a 180 [degrees different] from the end of the [previous] series.”

Not only did Hart give the Brewers the win, but the two-time All-Star also picked up the slack of closer John Axford.

With the Brewers having tied the score at 4 in the eighth on a pair of singles by Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez, the game was placed in Axford’s hands with the expectation that he would give the home team a chance to win in the bottom half of the ninth.

Axford (5-1), who was pitching for the third straight game, gave up a pair of singles to open the inning, which was followed by a sacrifice fly to right, putting the Pirates ahead by a run.

The first single, which came on a bunt by Ronny Cedeno in which he narrowly avoided a tag by first baseman Prince Fielder, was a call which Axford did not agree with afterward.

“I thought Prince got him right on the heel, so did Prince,” Axford said. “I’m sure if you ask the umpires, they’ll say, ‘No,’ but if you ask them without a paper and pen and maybe a recorder, they might say that he was tagged.

“It was right there. I was standing right in front of it, and it looked pretty good. I even thought I heard it.”

Axford escaped the inning when he snagged a ball hit back through the middle and started a crucial inning-ending double play.

Though he was frustrated when he returned to the dugout, Axford reminded himself that his club was certainly capable of coming back again.

Three batters later, he was right.

Lefty starter Randy Wolf was not as sharp as he might have liked to have been, but he did just enough to keep the Brewers in the game. Wolf allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings while walking three and recording five strikeouts.

For the second straight outing, Wolf had a solid start except for one bad inning — a three-run second frame. The only other blemish was a solo homer in the sixth by rookie third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

“One rough inning,” Wolf said. “I left some balls over the plate, and they had a three-run inning. That last run. … I was successful all day with fastballs to Alvarez and he just finally caught up to one and he barreled it.

“I’m not happy with it, but I’m glad we ended up winning in the end.”

Despite his lack of success early on — Alvarez was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts going into the at-bat — he stuck with it and gave his team the 4-3 lead.

“You never know when you can get a big hit,” he said. “It’s a matter of not giving up, and I just kept with it. I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on the ball.”

Along with Hart’s big blast, the Brewers got two more homers, solo shots by Braun and George Kottaras.

For Braun, who continues to break out of a prolonged slump, the home run was his second in as many games as he went 5-for-8 with two home runs, five runs and three RBIs in the three-game sweep.

After dropping five straight with some of their worst performances of the season, the Brewers head into the All-Star break riding a wave of momentum.

“We feel better about ourselves, that’s a good thing,” Braun said. “It’s irrelevant to think about whether we’ve won four or five games in a row or lost four or five in a row.

“We just need to focus on the task at hand, go inning to inning, at-bat to at-bat, pitch to pitch and try to put ourselves in the best position to be successful.”

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