Pirates Notebook: Tracy calls clutch hitting 'deplorable'
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ST. LOUIS -- It takes quite a bit to get Jim Tracy's dander up, so it might raise an eyebrow that he used the word "deplorable" yesterday to describe the Pirates' hitting with runners in scoring position.
Asked if the team's approach at the plate has regressed after an encouraging few days last week, Tracy replied, "Rather than look at whether the approach has gone sour, I think you'd better re-address it from the standpoint of something that has haunted us since April the 2nd. What has to get better is our batting average overall as a ballclub."
That currently is .246, which ranks 13th in the 16-team National League.
"But our batting average with runners in scoring position right now is deplorable," Tracy continued. "Go look at it. Look at the different individuals. One of the guys with one of the highest averages with runners in scoring position is hitting under .200."
That would be Adam LaRoche, .196 overall but .295 with runners in scoring position. Among the highest: Xavier Nady at .342 and Freddy Sanchez .333. Among the lowest: Jose Bautista .188, Ronny Paulino .179 and Jack Wilson an astounding .097.
Including an 0-for-5 count yesterday, the team's .237 average with runners in scoring position -- 92 for 388 -- ranks 15th in the 16-team National League, this despite having the 10th-most at-bats in such situations. Of those 92 hits, only 21 have gone for extra bases, including five home runs.
They have struck out 97 times, too, third-most in the league.
"We have to do better," Tracy said. "We have some people in the lineup who, hopefully, are going to get hot. They're going to drive some balls, and maybe some of those balls are going to reach the seats. We're not hitting any home runs, either."
The Pirates' 30 home runs rank 12th, and Bautista's solo shot yesterday was their first in five games.
Duffy a bright spot
Chris Duffy rebounded from his three-game benching to go 3 for 7 with a double and triple, and he has reached base on half of his eight plate appearances out of his new No. 2 spot in the order.
He also has played fine defense, including a sensational catch Wednesday night.
"I know how valuable this kid is," Tracy said. "Trust me."
Expect Duffy to stay put rather than move back to leadoff.
Ryan Doumit was rested, not because of his 2-for-16 slump, Tracy said, but because he has been bounced back and forth between right field and catcher.
Reliever Damaso Marte has given up one hit in opponents' past 23 at-bats. Is it the best he has pitched since joining the Pirates? "I think so," he said. "All my pitches are going down, and the fastball is really working."
Wilson snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a seventh-inning single.
Cincinnati's starters for the series that opens tonight: Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Kirk Saarloos and Kyle Lohse.
INDIANAPOLIS (27-18) won at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 8-5. RHP Marty McLeary (2-1, 2.25) pitched three-plus scoreless innings and allowed two hits in his first start since being demoted Sunday. LHP Juan Perez (3.00) pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. 2B Nick Green (.360) hit his first and second home runs and went 3 for 4 with five RBIs. CF Rajai Davis (.307) went 3 for 4 with a triple and his 24th steal. SS Brian Bixler (.340) went 2 for 5 with a triple and an RBI.
ALTOONA (19-24) lost at Akron, 7-6, in 10 innings. LHP Josh Shortslef (0-5, 3.33) allowed three runs, one earned, in 5 1/3 innings. 3B Neil Walker (.281) went 1 for 4 with a walk. CF Andrew McCutchen (.191) went 0 for 4 with two walks and his eighth steal.
LYNCHBURG (20-21) beat Potomac, 6-5. LHP Brian Holliday (0-2, 5.18) allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings. LF James Boone (.365) hit his sixth home run and went 2 for 4 with a double and three RBIs.
HICKORY (18-26) won at Kannapolis, 6-5. RHP Serguey Linares (1-0, 1.61) allowed four runs, five hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings. 3B Eddie Prasch (.212) went 3 for 4 with a double.
First Published May 24, 2007 10:45 pm