It started with Monday’s game, during which Rod was 0 for 3, struck out once, and was hit by a pitch. So how did that start the hitting streak, you ask? Aside from the strikeout, the other two outs were hard-hit balls. Unfortunately for Rod and the Pirates, one was a line drive right at the left fielder and the other was a hard-hit ground ball right at the shortstop. The box score read 0 for 3; the reality was Rod made contact with the ball and was unlucky.
Tuesday’s game officially started the hitting streak; the box score even agreed this time. Rod had a beautiful game at the plate Tuesday night. The statistics show a strikeout in Rod’s first at-bat; the reality was a called third strike that was well inside. In the 5th inning, Rod patiently drew a walk. In the 6th inning, Rod came to bat with runners on 1st and 2nd. He didn’t disappoint, pulling an RBI double to left field. A popup in the 8th was Rod’s only real offensive mistake. In the 10th inning, Rod singled to center before being replaced by a pinch runner.
Michael McKenry started Wednesday’s game, Thursday was an off day, and Rod started again Friday night. He continued right where he left off. Well, after a 3rd inning strikeout. In the 5th inning, Rod singled to center field. Then, in the 7th inning, unfortunately with the bases empty, Rod connected for his 9th homerun of the year. Of course he pulled it to left field for a trademark Barajas bomb. It was a ray of light in Friday’s loss.
McKenry started again Saturday night, but Rod started today. He struck out twice looking but made contact twice. One was a flyout to left field, and the other was a single to left. The single came in the 6th inning, just in time to continue his hitting streak. Rod looks more comfortable at the plate, makes solid contact with the ball, doesn’t pop it up, and is even showing some power. It’s good to see him coming around.
It’s also been stressed over and over what a leader Rod is to the pitching staff and in the clubhouse. “Rod has been great working with the pitching staff and Pitching Coach Ray Searage,” Clint Hurdle said in my interview with him. “He brings a veteran presence to the catching position and a leadership role in the clubhouse.”
From the moment the Pirates signed Rod, he was ready to lead and identify with the team. “They were aggressive, and the organization really seemed like they wanted me to wear this uniform,” Rod said in an interview last November, shortly after signing with the Pirates. “Last year they” – Rod corrected himself – “us, you know, we played well and we were, for four months, we were right there.”
I can’t quite express how glad I am to have Rod as a Bucco, and I pray the Pirates exercise his 2013 option.