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Saturday, May 15, 2010
The Closer: Proud pair of Pirates

By ESPN Stats & Info

Hitters of the Night

Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones, PIT: 10-for-11, 2 HR, 7 R, 7 RBI, 2 SB


McCutchen and Jones, batting three-four in the Pirates' order, both had five-hit games, the first Bucs to do that since 1970. It was the first career five-hit game for both players.

Only one of the 10 hits was on an inside pitch, while five were on the outside-- including two out of the strike zone away. Cubs pitchers were reading the scouting report by keeping balls out there. Prior to Friday, the two had combined for a .321 average on inside balls-- with Jones' .344 propping that up-- and only .223 on outside offerings.

Prior to Friday, the two combined Pirates hit only .127 against sliders and .111 against changeups, while striking out on those pitches over one-fourth of the time. Today they went 3-for-4, although the only blemish on their record-- Jones' fourth-inning strikeout-- was on a slider.

McCutchen and Jones saw 23 pitches in the strike zone, and swung at 18 of them (78.3%, much higher than their previous rate of 63.9). They fouled off 10 and had ZERO swings-and-misses. The eight strikes they put in play all went for hits, including both homers.

Two-strike hitting was also key. The two Pirates entered the game with a batting average of only .219 in two-strike counts. On Friday they got five hits and five RBI, including Jones' homer, in those situations. Both players have also had great success against the Cubs so far this season, combining to bat .679 with an OPS of 1.745. Against all other opponents, they're hitting just .255.

Why They Won

Why Giants starter Todd Wellemeyer won:

- Got ahead: 65.5 pct first-pitch strikes (51.5 entering the game), including no hits in four at-bats when the first pitch was put in play (.385 entering the game)
- Pounded away with his fastball: 74.5 pct of his pitches and 65.8 pct strikes, both highs for the season
- Allowed just two hits in 16 at-bats ending on the heater, which averaged a season-high 90.5 MPH

Why Angels starter Joe Saunders won:
- Got ahead: 68.8 pct first-pitch strikes (58.0 entering the game)
- Allowed no hits in 10 at-bats when ahead in the count (.340 entering the game)
- Went to 3-ball counts on just four hitters (0-2, 2 BB)

Why Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie won:
Used his fastball:
- Threw it on 66.4 pct of his pitches, his most in a start this season
- Allowed no hits in 18 at-bats (.296 entering the game)
- Induced misses on 13.3 pct of swings (7.6 pct entering the game)

Why Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez won:
Used his fastball:
- Threw it a lot and threw it for strikes (65.7 pct and 69.0 pct, most in a start this season)
- Allowed only 3 hits in 14 at-bats (.214 -- .379 entering the game)
- Got 3 strikeouts (4 strikeouts total entering the game)

Why Mets starter Oliver Perez lost:
- Couldn't finish off hitters. Florida batters got two hits and drew three walks when Perez already had two strikes on them. Previous opponents hit only .125 in two-strike counts.
- Threw his fastball 56.8 pct of the time, way down from the 67.5 pct rate entering the game.
- Left too many pitches in the strike zone. Earlier this season, Perez left only 45.6 pct of his pitches IN the zone, forcing hitters to chase more. On Friday, 53.4 pct hit the zone, and Florida hitters went 9-for-17 against them. Only two Marlins concluded their at-bats on a pitch outside the zone, and both were swinging strikeouts.
- Left the ball up in the zone. More than a third of his pitches were high, and the Marlins went 5-for-9 including two homers against those.

Home Run Notes

David Ortiz ended up seeing five straight fastballs from Max Scherzer, thanks to the first three missing the zone. He then fouled off a 3-0 pitch before launching his three-run homer.

Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Ortiz has swung at nearly 17% of 3-0 pitches-- almost TRIPLE the major-league average of 5.9%.

However, only seven of his 90 previous homers over that span have come on 3-0 or 3-1 counts.

Ortiz's 459-foot blast was the longest home run of the night, and not surprisingly, would have been a home run in all 30 MLB parks.

As noted above, Andrew McCutchen had a tremendous game at the plate, going 5-for-5. But his 382-foot solo shot at was hit in the lone MLB park (Wrigley Field) where it would clear a fence. That's right, out of all 30 MLB parks, McCutchen's home run wouldn't have cleared the fence in any of the 29 other parks.