Thursday, April 22, 2010
Two Different Teams-Two Different Approaches
For seven other games, they have been a ballclub who has fallen behind early and coasted threw at bats and didn't throw strikes and didn't do the little things necessary to win. Consequently they got the crap kicked out of them in all seven of those games.
In the Pirates seven wins, they've had to scratch and claw. They've outscored the opposition 41-25 in those seven games. All but two have been one or two run games. Their largest margin of victory was by six on opening day.
In the Bucs seven losses, they have been outscored 65-13. Their closest loss was by six runs on two different occassions. Now, I feel that there really is no difference between losing 10-2 and 1-0- a loss is a loss, but what's the reason these guys haven't been able to even compete in those seven losses?
Is it starting pitching? Absolutely. I feel bad for the position players that seem to know they only have a chance to win two out of every five days out. The starters not named Zach Duke and Paul Maholm have got to start giving this team quality innings and quality starts. The pitching is the obvious answer and that's not what has my attention.
Is it the manager? Sure blame JR. I'm getting tired of looking at him, but that's not the main problem either.
You can even blame Ryan Doumit for leaving a small village on the base paths through 14 games.
The problem is the two totally differnt approaches these young guys take at the plate. In seven wins, from the first inning on, 1-9 in the lineup, these guys work deep in the count. The approach at the plate has been to see alot off pitches, foul off close pitches and take advantage of pitchers mistakes. Hitting coach Don Long has made that point to this team. They are hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position in the seven wins, almost all the hits coming with two strikes.
One example is the ninth innings on Friday and Saturday in wins vs the Reds. Take Lastings Milledge for example. Both days he had the chance to be the hero. It would be understandable for a young guy to get anxious and chase bad pitches in both situations. Friday, Milledge fell behind 0-2 and managed to work the count full, fouling off four, two-strike pitches before delivering the game winning single. Saturday, he did it again, falling behind in the count and managed a long at-bat before working a walk to tie the game. We need to see at bats like this all the time from everyone on this team.
A bad trend in the wins have been to have success the first time through the order, struggle in innings 3-8 and then win it in the ninth. The Pirates have got to start having good at bats for all nine innings.
In the losses, the approach is very different. Maybe these guys are pressing too much. Instead of discipline and quality at bats, we instead see alot of contact early in the count- which isn't a bad thing if your swinging at good pitches and hitting the ball hard, which the Pirates aren't. In the losses we also see more guys chasing out of the zone. The strikeout rate is alarming early in the season.
When they get guys on base, they are unable to get hits with guys on base. Again, the approach is way different. Another problem is having to bat Doumit behind Garrett Jones. Jones is never going to see a good pitch to hit until they get someone capable to hit behind him. If they could get away with batting Doumit 10th then they should.
The Bucs have scored exactly one run since the fifth inning on Sunday. That's 22 innings of baseball with one run. No way they should be getting dominated by the likes of Dave Bush. The approach at the plate has to change and change for the better and on a more consistent basis.
Today could be the last day of the season the Bucs are at or above the .500 mark, so enjoy.