Blue Jays slam Pirates, Volquez
How low does the strike zone go? The Pirates claimed the answer varied from one inning to the next Sunday in their 7-2 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the second inning, right-hander Edinson Volquez thought he fired some low strikes, but didn't get the calls from umpire Greg Gibson. Volquez tried to adjust and wound up yielding a grand slam to Colby Rasmus.
Two innings later, Pirates first-base coach Rick Sofield grumbled when Gibson called strike three when Jordy Mercer took a pitch around his knees. Sofield and manager Clint Hurdle were ejected.
“It was pretty apparent the low strike wasn't going to come into play,” Hurdle said. “It got to a point where a pitch that I thought hadn't been called a strike all day was called a strike in a very pivotal at-bat for us.”
Mercer's strikeout came with two outs, two runners on base and the Pirates trailing, 4-1. It turned out to be their last real threat in the game.
As Mercer stood at the plate in disbelief, Sofield walked past and muttered, “Ball was low.” That was too much for Gibson, who earlier had warned Hurdle to stop complaining about calls.
“We disagreed on the strike zone,” Hurdle said. “I thought he let us know that part of the zone was going to be a ball, that's all.”
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Josh Harrison, who started in right field and batted leadoff for the second game in a row, tripled and scored on Neil Walker's ground out.
Harrison tripled and scored again in the eighth inning against right-hander Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays' top pitching prospect who was called up before the game and made his big league debut.
“Just feels good to be in the lineup and help any way I can,” Harrison said. “They were both two-strike fastballs, and I just put a good swing on it.”
The Blue Jays went ahead to stay in the second. Volquez walked Edwin Encarnacion on five pitches, then threw four straight balls to Juan Francisco.
“I made a lot of bad pitches,” Volquez said.
Was he getting squeezed on the strike zone?
“I can't keep that on my mind,” Volquez said. “I've got to let it go and make better pitches. I was all over the place today. I was off a little bit.”
Brett Laurie hit a bouncer that arced high toward the left side. Mercer grabbed the ball on the run, but had trouble getting it out of his glove. Laurie reached on an infield single, loading the bases.
“Just couldn't get a handle on it,” Mercer said.
With a full count against Rasmus, Volquez offered a waist-high curveball. Rasmus launched it into the right-field seats for his fourth career grand slam.
“He felt he was getting the ball in good spots down in the zone, but wasn't getting calls,” Hurdle said. “He tried to make an adjustment and probably over-adjusted.”
Jose Reyes opened the fifth with a double. On the next pitch, Melky Cabrera hit his sixth homer of the year to make it 6-1.
Volquez (1-3) yielded six runs in five innings. He gave up seven hits, walked three and struck out three.
Volquez began the season with five solid outings, including a two-inning relief stint in his debut, but has been roughed up in his past two starts. He gave up six runs in 52⁄3 innings April 27 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Hurdle pointed out that in the loss to the Cardinals, Volquez served up a three-run homer to Jhonny Peralta after a borderline 2-2 pitch was called a ball.
Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan (2-1) worked seven innings, his longest outing of the season, and allowed one run on three hits.
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.
- Steelers sign former star LB Harrison; Tomlin talks ‘different climate’
- Steelers’ Taylor recovering from forearm surgery
- Experts weighing in on how to fight Pa.’s heroin problem
- Cranberry police trying to ID repeat burglary suspect
- Pittsburgh teacher accused of choking, pushing student acquitted
- West Virginia notebook: Holgorsen likes energy level as Mountaineers head into bye week
- Port Authority: Drivers ‘reckless’ before buses bumped, wrecking 1
- Attorney general rejects Tribune-Review request for ‘racy’ emails
- Jury acquits Stowe man of charges related to bar shooting
- Steelers defense must replace 3 injured starters after victory
- State Sen. Jim Ferlo: ‘I’m gay. Get over it. I love it’