Sometimes we forget that playing baseball is a job. Sure, grown men are playing a child’s game and being paid well to do so, well once they make the majors anyway. It was really evident that something wasn’t right with Bryan Reynolds all season long, I mean I even wrote a fairly lengthly piece breaking down what he’s struggling with and trying to find signs he’ll break out of it.
I heard some people bring up his pregnant wife at home, mostly as a joke explanation, but maybe that did play a role. In fact on the most recent Bucs In the Basement Podcast Chris Lanuti brought it up very colorfully. I laughed, knowing he was only half serious but as I really thought about it, maybe we didn’t give that enough chance at being true.
Hey, one game won’t serve as an announcement Reynolds is back to being Reynolds, just like Polanco having his second strong effort in as many days won’t make anyone believe he’s turned the corner.
That’s baseball. At some point you just look up and realize Polanco is suddenly really doing well, and people start transitioning to whatever that means to them, trade value, excitement for what he can do for the club and even those who would be mad he’ll walk away soon because Nutting, you know.
Regardless, today was a day to see some players that this club will depend on in 2021 start to find themselves a bit. On the other side it was an opportunity to once again watch this team trot out a player who absolutely won’t in JT Riddle. Watch him make another error at third. Watch him continue to not hit. Watch a kid who had a stellar debut performance, followed by a rough 2nd time out in Hayes, sit on the bench and chew on that last shot at it for a day.
If you want to learn about a kid, seeing how he handles the adversity of a bad outing by throwing him right back out there is as old as moves you’d see Connie Mack make. If there is a “way to do things in baseball” this management group takes a left turn. It’ll either work or make them the easiest target since Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle.
Today the Pirates would put all these factors together and beat the Cubs handily, overcoming more less than clean defense again. This is statistically the worst fielding team in MLB and as someone who watches every inning of every game, it could be worse if home teams didn’t make scoring decisions.
JT Brubaker fought through 5 innings, sprinkling 7 hits and two runs around and working around some poor defense. In the 6th Sam Howard came in and retired two batters but loaded the bases on two hits and a walk. That’s when Derek Shelton called on Geoff Hartleib, who left the bases loaded, he’s been quite good at stranding runners this season.
So good in fact Hartleib would pitch the 7th as well.
All of this bulldog pitching was backed by a rare consistent offensive attack from the Pirates, led by Gregory Polanco and Bryan Reynolds. None bigger than the 3 run shot by Bryan in the 3rd that game them a 4-2 lead. The Bucs would add more in 6th on a Cole Tucker pop up that landed in no man’s land.
Turley would pitch the 8th for the Pirates and he walked Kyle Schwarber to get things started but delivered a double play ball in the very next at bat and finished with a quick strikeout.
In the top of the ninth the Pirates decided to go with Richard Rodriguez. Now if you think that was a bad idea, they had Dovydas Neverauskas warming next to him.
Rodriguez gets the job done and the Pirates win 6-2. Double header tomorrow starting tomorrow at 3.
News & Notes:
- Gregory Polanco had another solid outing today, going 2 for 4. This would be relatively nothing but it’s his second in a row. Good sign for one of the few almost positively on this club in 2021
- Bryan Reynolds returned from Paternity leave with a bang. Double and a homerun certainly a nice way to re-inject yourself into your profession.
- Geoff Hartlieb is no longer a guy we should be surprised by, his 2.30 ERA in 14 appearances and ability to strand inherited runners makes him someone to look to in 2021, and not because they’re stuck with him, he’s earned it.
- Ian Happ left today’s game after taking a foul ball off the eye. Reports came in that he was negative for fractures, so good news there on the hometown kid.
- Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are really struggling right now, that would continue today as the Cubs continue to strand runners at an alarming pace.