After two innings, the Bucs had fashioned a 9-0 lead over arguably the worst team in the Majors. What a gift for the pitching staff, right? Let you starter settle into a rocking chair, throw strikes, and maybe - maybe - turn it over to some middle reliever to finish the last two or maybe three innings while coasting to an easy victory. Instead, you know what happened:
- Starter Juan Nicasio gave back five runs and struggled to finish five innings so he could be the pitcher of record for such an "easy" win.
- Given a six run lead, Ryan Vogelsong gave back three runs, had to face a batter representing the tying run, and couldn't get trough two innings.
- Arquemides Caminero, in relief of Vogelsong, promptly gave up a home run before getting the one out needed to close out the inning.
- The Pirates had to turn over what should have been a laugher to their One-Two bullpen punch of Tony Watson and Mark Melancon to close out this win, something that I am sure that Clint Hurdle was not envisioning with a 9-0 lead in the second inning.
Well, it was only one game, you might say, but I think that this game was an example, perhaps an extreme one, but still an example of what the Pirates biggest problem has been: middling starting pitching and poor to awful relief pitching. If the Pirates are to go anywhere in the pennant race this season, the situation with the pitching staff, particularly the bull pen, must be addressed. If dummies like me can see this, I am certainly confident that Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle are seeing it, too, and are working diligently to address the problem. They had better be.
Last night's game aside, the biggest news of the day for the Pirates yesterday was the announcement of the signing Francisco Cervelli to a three year, $31 million contract extension (through 2019), and by the way, didn't Cervelli look classy and terrific by showing up at the press conference announcing the signing in a suit and tie?
Interestingly enough, I heard about this while listening to 93.7 The Fan while driving home from the golf course. Joe Starkey and Chris Muller were expressing surprise that no one was calling to (a) talk about the news, and (b) complimenting the Pirates for making this move. Imagine, said Starkey, how the phone lines would have been on fire with people boiling tar and plucking feathers had Cervelli been allowed to go to free agency at the end of the year and then signed a $31 contract with some other team?
Anyway, Cervelli now joins other key Pirates Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Josh Harrison, and Gregory Polanco under long term deals with the team. Significant, I'd say.
Looking forward to three plus more years of this....