The St. Louis Cardinals held off the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh in large part to Michael Wacha’s near no-hitter and Matt Holliday’s 2 run blast. This is Wacha’s first postseason start and this 6’6″ rookie is making quite a name for himself in Major League Baseball. Wacha was a first round pick (19th overall) out of Texas A&M in the 2012 draft. A pick which the Cardinals received from the Los Angeles Angels for the signing of Albert Pujols.
Wacha, 22, made 11 appearances in 2012, making it all the way to AA Springfield. 2 of his 11 appearances were starts and his 2012 statistics looked a little like this..
2012: 21 innings pitched, 4 walks, 2 earned runs and a whopping 40 strikeouts with an ERA of 0.86.
This gave plenty of reason for Cardinal fans to be excited about their young arm and he continued his success this season at AAA Memphis in 15 starts posting an ERA of 2.65, 73 K’s and 19 walks in 85 innings.
St. Louis had brought Wacha up a few times this season and he made 15 appearances, 9 for starts for the red birds and just keeps dealing. He’s averaging a K per inning and his ERA sat at a nice 2.78 by the years end. His 15th MLB appearance was probably the most notable of his career almost no hitting the Washington Nationals… Up until today, facing elimination against the Pirates and at PNC Park, he picked up where he left off. Wacha carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning up until third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit a pitch into the seats, bringing Pittsburgh a run closer to tying the game. Ultimately the Pirates fell short in what was quite a pitchers duel between Wacha and Charlie Morton.
The series will go to a very exciting game 5 which will be played in St. Louis on Wednesday 10/9. The winner will play either the Dodgers or Braves in the NLCS.
Surely by now you have realized or heard by now that this is the first time the Pittsburgh Pirates have made the postseason since 1992. A lot of things has happened over the last 21 years in baseball but it’s finally time for baseball fans in the steel city to throw on their eye patches and root for their Pirates as they take on the division rivals and champion, the St. Louis Cardinals.
First the Pirates had to survive the one game playoff game against another division foe, the Cincinnati Reds to get the shot to move on and play the National League’s best record (97-65) St Louis Cardinals. Francisco Liriano spun a gem and Russel Martin smacked 2 home runs en route to a 6-2 victory over the Reds, the first postseason victory at PNC Park.
Starters: The St. Louis Cardinals closed out the regular season with 6 straight victories and are putting their ace, Adam Wainwright on the hill for game 1. The NL leader in Wins (19), will face the Pirates for the 4th time this season and owns a 3.00 ERA over the first 3 starts. The Pirates are throwing AJ Burnett on the mound who has faced the Cards 6 times this season, posting a 3.67 ERA. I give the Cardinals the starting pitching advantage in game 1 of the NLDS.
The two teams have faced each other 19 times this season, with the Pirates taking the booty 10 times. But the Red Birds have won the last 4 of their match-ups. Pittsburgh has displayed more power, hitting 14 more home runs than the Cards in their 19 games but give St. Louis the upper hand if you’re talking recent postseason experience. I do feel that if it is close late in the game, the Pirates can do a better job keeping the lead close with their bullpen arms.
Statistics really only go so far when it comes to October baseball. Who will be the hero? I think the St. Louis Cardinals will take Game 1 but mark my words, without Allen Craig I think the Pirates have a legitimate shot at taking the Cardinals down in the NLDS.
There’s a few weeks until opening day when the Texas Rangers are set to face the Houston Astros. Having said that, we are still underway in the 2013 spring training season. For this article I’ll look at a couple players of the Pittsburgh Pirates and how they’re coming along this March as they look to finish above a .500 record. Something they haven’t accomplished in 20 years.
Perhaps my favorite player in camp this year and set to take over left field for the Pirates is Starling Marte. I got to see him a few times last season when AAA Indianapolis came to town. Starling is such an outstanding athlete and looks to showcase an impressive skill set in the majors. He got a taste of MLB pitching last season playing in 47 games. He’s a guy with plus speed, above average fielding and has some pop in his bat. He’ll need to polish it up a bit and try to cut down on the whiffs and be more consistent at the plate. But that comes with experience at this level. It’s reported that he has been working on tightening his game this offseason and this spring it looks to be paying off. Starling Marte is hitting .407 with 3 triples and 7 runs scored. Flashing a bit of speed with 3 stolen bases.
Gaby Sanchez, acquired last season from the Miami Marlins is off to a nice start. It’ll be crucial for him to regain his all-star form if the Pirates want to finish above .500 or make the playoffs. In 12 games this spring, Gaby is hitting .320 with 3 solo home runs and an even 2:2 BB/K ratio. Can he keep it up this season?
It looks like Pedro Alvarez has found his hammering power stroke last year hitting 30 HR’s last season. He’s now 26 years old and it seems pretty clear that he wont hit for average or take an ample amount of walks. But he’s got that thunder in his bat and can still work to improve his plate discipline. He’s hitting a measly .088 going 2 for 25 with 2 RBI’s in 10 games this spring.
Newly signed Russell Martin looks to take a major role with Pittsburgh. The Pirates wanted to find a seasoned vet to anchor their pitching staff. Looks like they found a pretty descent guy. Although daddy might have some achy knees this season catching the wild A.J Burnett and Francisco Liriano. Martin is hitting .176 with an OBP of .364 in 7 games. Pirates are probably taking it easy on him early on.
Mark Melancon looks to bounce back after a dreadful season with the Boston Red Sox. He’ll add to the bullpen and if he performs well, he may see some save chances if Jason Grilli struggles. He in fact does have some closer experience with the Astros. In 6 games he’s worked a 1.50 ERA, giving up a hit per inning and 1 ER off a home run. I think a move back to the National League was the best thing he could do. Nice fit with Pittsburgh.
Lefty Starter Wandy Rodriguez has tossed 5 innings and held batters to a .211 batting average. A fly by under the radar guy has a chance to turn in a good season and he’s having his best spring training yet so far.
Not that these numbers really matter as players look to get into the flow before the regular season and work on personal things to improve themselves. But it is always nice to check in on your favorite player or team. I do however think Pittsburgh will improve this year and will make it over the .500 hump for the first time in 2 decades. You’d think the baseball gods would throw them a bone, right?
So I sit here watching this incredible up and down World Baseball Classic game between USA and Canada. A game that has a feel like like a final game in a ALDS, but in the month of March. The United States at one point, decides to put Arizona Diamondback David Hernandez out to the mound. I can’t help but think about how underrated the guy is….
In my eyes, David Hernandez is one of the top relief pitchers in the game. A man who does his job quite like no other, bridging the gap from the 8th inning to the 9th beautifully. A handcuff to the aging J.J. Putz. In the past 2 seasons for the Dbacks, Hernandez compiled 48 holds which is a Major League 12th best. Not to mention a good honkin’ fastball and a nasty slider.
A former 16th round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft. 483rd overall to be exact. He came up as a starter, putting in good overall numbers in the minors. At 24 years old, he was called up by the Orioles making 19 starts and once out of the pen for a limp 5.42 ERA. Forward to December of 2010 and David Hernandez along with Kam Mickolio for slugger Mark Reynolds. Perhaps Arizona was on to something by trading for Hernandez, seeing how they had drafted him once previously but he didn’t sign. They had an obvious liking for the guy. The Diamondbacks strictly used him out of the bullpen in 2011 and 2012 and the move payed off. Proving that he is a trusty reliever and without a doubt a possible future closer for the Diamondbacks, replacing an aging and oft injured J.J. Putz. Between David and Heath Bell, he’ll likely get some save opportunities if Putz sees any DL time or needs a night off.
In fact, the four seasons he has pitched in the MLB he managed to lower his ERA, runs, hits given up, walks, WHIP, and HR’s allowed in each season. While increasing his strike out total in each season. In 2012 he stuck out an impressive 98 batters in 68.1 innings. Perhaps the most valuable part of David Hernandez to the Arizona Diamondbacks is that he is set to earn just over $3 Million for the next 2 seasons. Count on him to have another voluminous season.