Only to be gunned down like so much venison by a bunch of Renegades (the New York-Penn League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). It was a beautiful night up here, so I went to see the Spikes. Nice stadium with 4,400 in attendance and a good game by the young Pirates.
Kyle McPherson pitched a good game through six even though he took the loss. Lots of first-pitch strikes, lots of balls beat into the ground, very few balls hit hard. Unfortunately, the Renegades hit balls hard when it counted. He got some good defense from Brock Holt at short and Pat Irvine at 3B, both of whom showed good range and made strong, off-balance throws to first. One concern is that the Renegades ran a lot and although the catcher, Craig Parry, had a very strong arm, it seemed like McPherson was not getting the ball to the plate quickly enough. The steals were on him.
Another fact not shown by the box score shows how good McPherson (and the relievers) were whilst simultaneously raising another concern. Hudson Valley had six hits – four of them were bunts. One double was a bloop that fell into no-man’s land down the first base line, one double was ripped down the third base line, and four batters got on by bunting. I’m not sure if this is a Renegades strategy to take advantage of their team speed or something they saw in our infield, but as a team they bunted very well. They picked up their insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on a bunt, a stolen base with the runner advancing to third on an error (someone should been backing up; bad break for Parry), and a squeeze play.
I picked the wrong night to try to gain insight into our future hitters. They were patient as the Renegades’ starter was working hard. Holt had an honest double and Irvine had a booming triple, but not much hitting beyond that.
And I found one glimmer of hope. I chatted with an Irish family vacationing in the mid-Hudson valley. After explaining how the Spikes feed players up to the Major League Pirates, I asked if he knew why the Pirates were currently notorious. He had no clue – so the unfortunate story of the Pirates’ tribulations have not – contrary to what ESPN would have you believe – reached every corner of the globe.