9-2-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
The White Sox did exactly what they’re supposed to do with a team like the Pirates, they swept them.
Neither of these games were blowouts. They weren’t laughed out of town, but the Sox left little doubt about what a fully rebuilt team should do to a team at the low point of it themselves.
Players like Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu remember just a couple seasons ago losing 100 games. I’m sure they even sympathize in a way with the Pirates few stars who have started wearing their frustration on their face.
Jake isn’t a huge star, but he’s been toiling for this team in a losing effort more nights than not going on 3 seasons now, and it’s starting to visibly show up.
As a fan, good.
I don’t want to see people happy with losing. Just like I cringe when Steelers players celebrate breaking up a pass down 20 with 6 minutes left in the 4th.
On the plus side, the White Sox also provide hope. They are the result of a complete tear down style rebuild and only 3 seasons removed themselves from 100 losses. As good as they are, they might not even be at their peak yet.
It can be done, but players don’t tend to think that way. Playing this game and not living in the moment don’t mix, so for now they’ll wear those scowls. For now they’ll roll those eyes knowing the one or two mistakes they make can’t be overcome with the talent they possess. Dealing with the fact they need near perfect performance to beat a team like this should act to drive them forward, but what you start to see quickly, there’s a reason no more than a handful of players survive these things on a roster from start to finish. It takes a special breed to not let it destroy you.
Now onto the actual baseball.
Max Kranick got the start in this one and his line 4.2 IP, 5 ER wasn’t reflective of his effort. Early on he was hitting his spots with the fastball, and I mean with precision. He rides that heat at 95-97 and if he’s placing it, everything else plays. This doesn’t excuse the runs. It doesn’t wipe away freshly called up Gavin Sheets destroying him for 2 homeruns.
What it does is show you flashes of what he has to offer, a player who started 2021 in AA and found his way to the bigs in the same season. Bouncing up and down, flashes are about what we can expect.
The Pirates hung in there, as Cole Tucker showed signs of life at the plate going 2 for 4, one a ringing double he took opposite field off the top of the wall.
Anthony Alford, still plagued by the strikeout showed what connecting on occasion means drilling a solo shot nearly 430 feet with an exit velocity of 110.
More than anything they simply didn’t have enough, and they certainly didn’t have enough coupled by uncharacteristic play by Kevin Newman who committed a terrible error trying to turn two that would have gotten Kranick out of an inning that turned ugly.
News & Notes
- Yesterday the Pirates and the league celebrated the 50th Anniversary of putting the first all person of color lineup on the field. Others have covered this better than I, but it’s certainly important to note, this wasn’t just for effect, this team won the Series.
- Cole Tucker showed some signs of life tonight. I’m of the belief he has a long way to go to salvage a 40-man spot for himself, but nobody should be rooting for the failure of a former number one pick, even if he has long since exited your plans
- Anthony Alford showed that real power and flashed the leather last night. Nobody has doubted the athletic ability, but he much like Tucker needs to show quite a bit in this chance to stick.
- Ke’Bryan Hayes is off with a self induced injury, but his absence really makes you appreciate what he does in the field. Hoy Park manned the hot corner last night and while he played fine, there were easily two balls Hayes gets to. Little things like that change the complexion of this game, maybe not enough to win, but enough to get noticed.
- Shelby Miller made his Pirates debut last night, and while many of you remember him beating the Bucs as a Starter for St. Louis, the Pirates will use him exclusively as a bullpen arm. He hasn’t experienced success in this league for half a decade, so it makes total sense to transition.