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Pirates Vs. Giants, 15 April 2012

Today at 4:05, Kevin Correia takes on Ryan Vogelsong as the Pirates try to bounce back after five straight losses.

Here's the Pirates' lineup:

Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Michael McKenry C
Kevin Correia P

* * *

Last night: the Pirates lost 4-3. Clint Hurdle turned to Chris Resop instead of Joel Hanrahan with the game tied in the bottom of the ninth because, you know, you never bring in your closer with the game on the line if there might be an opportunity to get him a save later. After two singles, Resop intentionally walked Angel Pagan, loading the bases with no outs. Melky Cabrera then hit a grounder to short. Clint Barmes' throw was off, and Rod Barajas didn't field it, and the Giants won. That's a pretty embarrassing inning all-around.

This might be a good time to revisit David's essay from last week about how not to use your closer. It boggles the mind that major league managers still do this.

Not that the Pirates played terribly well before that, of course. Neil Walker bailed out Charlie Morton in the first inning with a man in scoring position by catching a line drive that Pablo Sandoval hit about a million miles an hour. The Giants then hit a couple balls hard in the second inning and didn't seem to have much problem with Morton's sinker. Morton made things worse by failing to cover first on a grounder by Brandon Crawford.

From David: A couple other thoughts from last night's game. Hurdle wants the Pirates to be more aggressive on the bases but I'm pretty sure Jose Tabata stealing third with two outs in the fifth is not what he had in mind. Sure he made it, but just a half-decent throw and he's out by two steps. These are the type of things that I find difficult to understand. I have no doubt that moves like that, bunting in front of the pitcher, sliding into first, etc. helped in the decision not to pick up Ronny Cedeno's option. Tabata just has to know at this point in his career, even though he's only 23, that that is a terrible idea. On top of that, Tabata looks really lost at the plate right now. His second at bat was one of the worst of the season. I think it's flying under the radar because of Alvarez's massive struggles, but it hasn't looked very good so far.

In the eight games I've seen, I've not seen the defense I expected from Clint Barmes. Yes, he made the error on the throw home -- that happens, and both he and Barajas should have done better. But, he also bounced a routine throw to first that McGehee had to dig out and his range, particularly to his left, looks limited. Maybe it's confirmation bias on my part because I think the Barmes signing might be the worst of Huntington's tenure (primarily because it's two years), but I just don't see it. It doesn't help when the other guy, in this case Brandon Crawford, looks so much quicker and smoother. He made three excellent plays last night. That's what I think of when I think of a really good defensive shortstop.

As for Barmes' bat, I've been told a few times on twitter that Barmes was signed for his defense, not his bat. I realize the front office wants to point out his defensive skills, but the guy still has to bat every time through the lineup. Jack Wilson's career OBP is .307, Barmes' is .301. Wilson couldn't hit. Draw your own conclusions. I just don't know how this is going to turn out well.

The pitching was fine. Morton did get hit reasonably hard. It will be interesting to see how he fares against lefties, because it seems apparent that is going to determine his career success. To re-post something from last night, last year lefties had a .960 OPS against Ground Chuck, righties .567. He should expect to see 7-8 lefties every time out until that changes.

The big positive is the pen. As I tweeted, sign me up as President of the Juan Cruz/Jason Grilli fan club. Both of these guys are showing nasty stuff right now and seem willing to throw any of their three pitches at any time and can throw them all for strikes. They have been really impressive.