Hall and Counsell to platoon third base
PITTSBURGH -- The numbers finally got the best of Bill Hall this week, with manager Ned Yost opting for an informal platoon at third base between Hall and Craig Counsell.
Hall, a right-handed hitter, was hitting .371 against left-handed pitchers through Tuesday but only .163 against right-handers. With righty Ian Snell on the mound Wednesday night, Yost started the left-handed-hitting Counsell at the hot corner.
"I'm going to have to do it a little more until some of these numbers come up for Billy," Yost said. "His left-handed numbers are as good as you can dream of ... but his right-handed numbers are about as low as they go."
The upcoming schedule is favorable to Hall. The Pirates will field a left-handed starter for Thursday's series finale at PNC Park, followed by two Nationals left-handers to begin a four-game series in Washington.
Entering the season, Hall was a career .270 hitter against left-handers and .262 against right-handers. But the split started to emerge last season, when he hit .270 against lefties and .246 against righties.
Yost was surprised to note how dramatically the gap has changed. In 2004, Hall's first full season, he hit only .190 against left-handed pitchers and .256 against right-handers.
"When you're struggling to score some runs, you're going to have to find ways to improve a little but here and there," Yost said. "It's not something I enjoy doing, but we have to do it right now.
"I think we are at a point where we can't get any deeper into this. You try to find every little bit of offense we can get here."
MIL: RHP Dave Bush (1-4, 6.05 ERA)
Bush has had some trouble of late getting the third out. All five Red Sox runs against him in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Saturday scored with two outs, though one was unearned. Bush surrendered a two-out, two-run double to Mike Lowell on a curveball down and away in the first inning, then misplaced a fastball to Lowell in the third and saw it go for a two-out, two-run home run. Thirteen of the 28 earned runs that Bush has surrendered this season have scored with two outs.
PIT: LHP Tom Gorzelanny (3-4, 6.64 ERA)
Mercifully, Gorzelanny won't be facing a club with 'Chicago' laced across the front of its uniform. Take away the left-hander's woes against the Cubs this season (three starts, 11 total innings, 21 runs), and Gorzelanny's numbers aren't so bad. His command has only sporadically matched that which he showed a year ago, however, his fastball still clocks in about two to three mph slower than it did in 2007. The lefty needs to get his pitches down, and his next test in doing so will come against a Milwaukee team that he has never faced before.
Yost and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, like all Major League managers and GMs, participated in a conference call with league officials on Wednesday regarding efforts to speed the pace of games. MLB advised clubs that umpires will be more vigilant in enforcing rules like 6.02 and 8.04, which pertain to batters taking too much time getting into the box and pitchers exceeding the 12-second limit between pitches. Umpires will also be more active in shortening coaches' visits to the mound. ... Yost said catcher Jason Kendall's outstanding throwing numbers this season (he had thrown out 12 of 30 basestealers entering Wednesday's game, or 40 percent) are the result of changes to Kendall's throwing mechanics, and not necessarily related to pitchers' efforts to be quicker to the plate. Last year, Kendall threw out 13 of 124 runners, or 10.5 percent. ... By winning the first two games of the series, the Brewers ensured their first series win at PNC Park since August 2006 and moved to within a win of their first-ever series sweep here.