7-25-21 – By Gary Morgan
The Giants have been a huge surprise this season but the Bucs have played them tough this year. I feel like a broken record as I brought this up on Locked on Pirates with Ethan Smith and Jim Stamm and I spent a whole segment on my show the Fan Forum on DK Pittsburgh Sports Podcasting Network, bad teams play better against good teams or at least look more professional.
It’s such a weird baseball thing, and it obviously doesn’t lead to a great record, but it does mean you can’t just look at the schedule and assume a team like the Pirates is going to drop 3 straight to the Giants after sweeping the helpless Diamondbacks.
In fact, on paper, it’s hard to understand why the Giants are better than the Diamondbacks.
Speaking of surprises maybe we should start with Gregory Polanco getting the call to hit cleanup last night. Surely a mistake according to many of you before the first pitch. Hey, I’m not pointing fingers, it struck me as less than ideal too. Fortunately it made sense to Greg, all he did was drive in 3 runs and crank a homerun.
I mean we can go all day, how about seeing a matchup of Wil Crowe going up against Kevin Gausman who has just been crazy good this season? Crowe looked in command, Gausman couldn’t throw strikes and fought through trouble most of his outing.
Wil Crowe for the first time all season, had and used all five of his pitches. We’ve seen him dogfight through when he had 3 of them but it was really good for the Pirates and Wil to have all his weapons at his disposal. 5.1 innings isn’t as long as you’d like to see but the Pirates are now getting pretty vocal about not wanting to see some of these guys go past 90 pitches. We can argue about this being right or wrong (you all know I have) but it is the reality of how they want to handle the staff, at least this season.
Meanwhile, the Pirates rocked Gausman over 4.1 innings for 6 earned runs.
Loading the bases in the first inning for Polanco who picked up his first RBI of the night with a sac fly to deep left. Sure a hit would be nice, but you’ve watched enough this season to know getting a run in that situation for the Pirates isn’t a given. In fact that one run was all they’d get. They let Gausman off the hook a couple times in this one believe it or not.
In the third though, they broke through.
Gamel drove in Polanco who himself had just driven in his second.
In the fifth, well, Greg
Then Newman with one of his 4 hits tonight. (not a typo)
Good defense was a theme all night too, this wasn’t just an offensive show.
Then they went about the business of making this one ugly, Michael Perez cracked his first ever triple, which would have been a homerun in all but 2 ball parks.
Just a well played and feel good ball game in Oracle Park last night for the visitors.
Pirates try yet again for their first sweep today at 4:05 as JT Brubaker looks to get back on track against Alex Wood.
News & Notes
- Kevin Newman’s average is still nowhere near what you’d like to see, but over the past 3 weeks he’s raised it from .201 to .216. This late into a season that’s quite a lot of movement. His glove has been terrific this season, and playing defense like that his bat doesn’t need to lead the team. He’s on a nice path right now with the bat and if it continues I think we could look back on this year feeling pretty good about Newman.
- Gregory Polanco has been a different player since returning from the IL. He’s seeing the ball well, being patient and more than anything, making hard contact. No, I still don’t think it’s enough to have someone trade for him. Also, his 11 homeruns are second on the team behind Reynolds even with all his missed time.
- Before the game, the Pirates announced that Kyle Crick cleared waivers (AKA, nobody else wanted him either) and they decided to outright release him rather than to AAA. There must be more to this story, and it must not be a well kept secret in the league. Look for something to come out on this.
- I know I already referenced Greg, but if you listened to his post game interview, man, what a shame he’s never put it all together. He’s a great teammate, and truly a wonderful guy. You can talk to him about an 0-5 night and find yourself smiling. We all rightly have expected more than he’s given in his career, but I hope as fans we can at least realize he’s not stupid, he’s not lazy, in fact, he’s simply a tremendous human. None of that means they shouldn’t move on, but it does mean don’t misplace your anger.