Pirates' Marte, Walker held in check
The Pirates needed just one run in the ninth inning Monday to tie Game 4 of the National League Division Series — or two to win it in walk-off fashion and clinch a spot in the National League Championship Series.
Ordinarily, the ninth spot leading off the inning followed by Starling Marte and Neil Walker would have been a promising start for the Pirates. That hasn't been the case.
The St. Louis Cardinals have silenced the bats of both leadoff man Marte and No. 2 hitter Walker; they are a combined 1 for 31.
Walker got on base for the first time in the series by way of a two-out walk after Jordy Mercer struck out and Marte grounded to short, but Andrew McCutchen flied out to end the game.
“We got to find an answer here the day after tomorrow,” manager Clint Hurdle said following the 2-1 loss. “We would like to get a little better action up top. These guys are trying. They're working. The pitching has been challenging for them.
“They're gaining valuable playoff experience. They tried to work counts at times. I think a little patience might help at times, and the time you do take it, it seems like it's always a strike. We've just got to keep grinding. They have to get in there and keep trying. Both are capable.”
Walker entered the postseason batting .259 in the second half but just .207 (19 for 92) in September. Seven of those 19 hits were home runs, however, matching his total from the first four months of the season.
He was 2 for 5 in the wild-card game against the Reds but hasn't had success against the Cardinals. Walker said he has shortened his swing and is doing what he can to get back to the middle of the field, but stretches like this are no fun.
“I need to be better,” he said. “It's plain and simple. But they're pitching well. These are two very good pitching teams. It's not really a surprise that some guys have been held in check. One of their best hitters (Matt Carpenter) has been held in check, too. That's been a pretty important thing in the two games that we've won is keeping him off the base paths, their leadoff guy.”
Marte walked once and was hit by a pitch in Game 2 and collected his only hit of the series, a home run in the eighth inning of Game 2 with the Pirates leading, 6-1. But he went hitless in four at-bats in Games 1, 3 and 4.
Marte said, through bullpen catcher and translator Heberto Andrade, that he doesn't believe lack of experience in the postseason has been a factor.
“I'm just trying to have fun and play the game the way I always have,” Marte said. “This is the big leagues, but I've been in tight situations in the Dominican Republic when you play in the playoffs, and it's even louder than it is here. I understand it's the big leagues, but I don't feel pressure. I feel like I've been here before.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Selig: Pirates’ rebirth a positive step for baseball
- Wednesday’s scouting report: Dodgers at Pirates
- Rossi: Liriano no ace, but he’s Bucs’ key
- Outfielder Polanco driving force for Pirates in victory over Dodgers
- Pirates notebook: Huntington staying patient as trade deadline approaches
- A quest to get to core of MLB oblique injury trend
- Monday’s scouting report: Pirates at Cardinals
- Pirates’ all-fields approach showing results
- Dodgers rough up rusty starter Volquez, knock off Pirates at PNC Park
- Pirates notebook: Polanco, Puig held out of series opener