Thursday, October 8, 2015
And So It Ends....
As it did in 2014, the Pirates 2015 season ended with a Wild Card loss. This time, it was 4-0 to Jake Arietta and the Chicago Cubs.
Much of the pre-game strum und drag centered around Clint Hurdle's decision to start Sean Rodriguez and first base and sit Pedro Alvarez. In what was thought would be a tight pitchers' duel, Hurdle and the Pirates' advanced metrics boys went with defense over offense. Of course, the Cubs jumped to a 3-0 lead, and all of a sudden the Pirates had to play for offense, and Alvarez pinch hit for Rodriguez on his first turn in the order. Alvarez responded by going 0-for-3 with three strike outs. Of course, no one else in the line-up hit either, as the Pirates recorded only four hits, and Arietta continued his almost unprecedented streak of pitching excellence.
The game was also sparked by a benches clearing brawl in the seventh inning when Tony Watson hit Arietta in the butt with a pitched ball. The back story here is that Arietta had previously plunked two Pirates, one of whom, Francisco Cervelli, had to quickly fall backwards as the ball was headed right for his face. Anyway, Watson responded by hitting Arietta in his left ass cheek, about the least vulnerable spot to hit a batter. Instead of taking first base, Arietta had to start jawing at Watson, and that led to the benches clearing.
I found it interesting that announcer Ron Darling, a pretty good pitcher in his day and a smart guy (he has a degree from Yale) to boot, said, and I am paraphrasing here, if you hit two of the other teams batters, you have a nice lead, and then you get plunked in the butt by the other team's pitcher, smile and jog down to first base. If Arietta had done that instead of jawing with Watson, there would have been no incident.
Right now I am betting that Tony Watson is the most popular guy in the clubhouse amongst his teammates.
Back to Alvarez. What we all saw last night was surely Pedro's last appearance in a Pirate uniform. How he was used by the Pirates this season made it apparent that the team had lost their patience with such a one dimensional player, and the decision to not start him yesterday surly reinforced that notion. I have always been a Pedro backer. Many times over these last six seasons, and as recently as just this past Sunday afternoon, I have been in awe of how far he can hit a baseball. Last night, however, truly encapsulated the Conundrum that is Pedro Alvarez: Over the course of 162 games, he will hit a lot of home runs, but when it comes down to any one specific game, he is far more likely to do what he did last night - strike out three times - than he is to launch one on the river walk.
I am sure that I will be writing a lot more about Pedro over the course of the off-season that started at about 11:00 last night.
It was certainly a disappointing end last night, but I am going to try, really try, not to let that sour finish mar what was a pretty terrific season for the Pirates.
How many days 'til pitchers and catchers report?