ShareThis Page
Pirates

Hitting lefties key for Pirates' Moss

Joe Rutter
| Saturday, June 27, 2009

Two weeks after benching Brandon Moss for four consecutive starts, Pirates manager John Russell is showing increased confidence in his 25-year-old right fielder.

That was evident Thursday night when Russell started Moss against Cleveland Indians left-hander Cliff Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young winner.

Moss rewarded Russell by going 1-for-3 against Lee and contributing to the tying run in the Pirates' 3-2 victory. Moss slapped an opposite-field single to left field in the seventh, the only hit during an inning in which the Pirates tied the score against Lee on Andrew McCutchen's bases-loaded walk.

"Lee is tough on left-handers," Russell said Friday. "I liked (Moss') approach. He gave himself a chance."

The rare start against a lefty -- it was Moss' fifth in 20 such games this season -- was borne from an altered hitting approach that occurred last week in Minnesota. Moss started working on the new approach after an 0-for-15 slide that dropped his batting average to .249 and earned him extended time on the bench.

All that's left
A look at how Pirates right fielder Brandon Moss has fared in his starts against left-handed pitchers this year:
Date Opponent Pitcher Result
June 25 Cleveland Cliff Lee 1-for-3
June 2 New York Mets Johan Santana 1-for-3
May 31 Houston Mike Hampton 0-for-2
May 24 Chicago White Sox Mark Buehrle 1-for-3
May 8 New York Mets Jonathan Niese 0-for-3

According to Moss, it was during early batting practice that Russell told him to quit hitting the ball to the opposite field so much.

"Usually when a young player struggles, his first instinct is to use the bigger part of the field and go the other way," Moss said. "I was doing it a little too much, and I got long with my swing. I started jamming myself a lot. J.R. said to go back to the approach that has always worked for me, which is (using) the middle of the field, to right.

"I'm not late on pitches like I was. I was getting blown away by fastballs."

No more. Moss has gone 9-for-16 with five doubles and five RBI in his past seven games, and his batting average is back to .270.

"Brandon is really coming along," Russell said. "He's giving himself a chance to hit the ball the way he did last year and the way he's hit in his career. If he does that, he can be a big part of our offense."

Could that mean more starts for Moss against left-handers• The Pirates face one today in Kansas City's Bruce Chen and another Tuesday in Chicago's Ted Lilly.

Russell was noncommital yesterday. Delwyn Young has enjoyed success against left-handers this season (.316 average), and Steve Pearce wasn't called up from Indianapolis exclusively to sit on the bench.

Still, Russell is intrigued by Moss' potential against lefties.

"Brandon has the ability to change the scoreboard, and that's the kind of hitter you like in the lineup," Russell said.

Moss, of course, is in favor of more starts. Coming into the season, he had a .267 batting average against lefties, compared to .239 against right-handers. This year, he is batting .258 against lefties and .273 against right-handers.

"I've always hit left-handers better than right-handers," Moss said. "I really like playing against lefties. When I'm in a slump and go in against a left-hander, it usually helps me get out of that slump. But we've got guys who hit right-handers well who also play the outfield. I always relish every opportunity I get against lefties, but at the same time I'm not going to be mad if I don't (start) because I understand."

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.

click me