Rob Biertempfel reports on the Pirates' new lineup against the Astros on Saturday, in which the Bucs followed leadoff man Andrew McCutchen with Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Ryan Doumit, in that order:â†µ
“The five guys (at the top) are still the five guys; they’re just in a little different order. Left-right, pretty much all the way through, with a couple switch-hitters in there. It gives us a little more punch a little bit higher, and also keeps the speed up top.”â†µ
Hitting coach Don Long, bench coach Jeff Bannister and Russell have been discussing the revamped lineup for the past week.â†µ
The Pirates scored in bunches the first few games after the All-Star break, but lately have struggled to string hits together. Russell hopes this puts more sizzle in the offense. “It makes (the opposition) think,” Russell said. “It’s a different look. It doesn’t look that easy to get through — the left-right, the speed and power. On paper, it makes a lot of sense.”â†µ
I like the lefty-righty mix of the new lineup - compared to Friday's lineup, which began with two righties followed by a switch-hitter followed by two lefties, the new lineup makes it a bit more difficult for opposing managers to deploy lefty specialists. But really, the lineup change is mostly psychological. Biertempfel noted that it created a "happy buzz" in the clubhouse Saturday, and that can't be a bad thing for a team that has struggled to score runs. The Bucs only scored two on Saturday (with both runs coming on Jones' two-run jack in the first), but let's hope they stick with this experiment for a while longer.