4/15/2014 11:31 P.M. ET
Pirates keeping close eye on Wandy's velocity
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Monday night was cold and wet, but Pirates lefty Wandy Rodriguez still managed to find a "hot zone" -- in all the wrong ways.
"His mistakes are getting covered and hit over the wall. When he's missed [with his pitches], he's missed in hot zones," manager Clint Hurdle said, meaning pitches to the hitters' liking.
Three of Rodriguez's mistakes went over the wall in the Monday portion of the suspended game completed Tuesday afternoon. All three came with a man on base, accounting for six of the Reds' runs in the suspended 7-7 tie. And those were not the young season's first far-hit mistakes by Rodriguez, whose velocity has been a couple ticks off his usual 92-93 mph.
"Sixteen innings, five home runs," Hurdle said, clearly alarmed by that trend. "It's a challenging time for him, but I'm not going to run to answers right away, because I've seen three outings and his velocity is down a tick."
The Bucs have too much pitching depth in the Minors to give a struggling starter an extremely long leash. However, Rodriguez will get every chance to show what he's got in a different kind of hot zone.
"When we get to warmer weather, he might get more acute focus, which is what we're looking for," Hurdle said. "You've got a pitcher from Latin America [the Dominican Republic] pitching in April, wet and chilly."
Cole feels connection wearing Jackie's No. 42
CINCINNATI -- Losing Tuesday night made Gerrit Cole feel bad.
Losing on Jackie Robinson's Day and in his No. 42 made Cole feel inconsolable.
"That's quite disappointing, even more so than us losing the game. It's just a little extra downer. I wanted to represent him a little better," Cole said quietly in the Pirates' clubhouse following their 7-5 loss to the Reds in Great American Ball Park. "What he did for baseball ... you can't say enough about that."
The emotional wave Cole surfed Tuesday night was whipped up by more than just the groundbreaking heroism for which Robinson is celebrated.
The young pitcher also embraces the fact he and Robinson are connected through UCLA. In addition to the No. 42 on his back, Cole had "UCLA 42" on the band of his cap.
"Absolutely," Cole said, proudly. "You know that everyone who has gone to that school recognizes him as the quintessential Bruin, outside of maybe John Wooden. So I think this is a special day for everybody, and for everyone who has gone to UCLA it is an extra special day. Just ask guys around the league [who came out of UCLA], like Chase [Utley] and Brandon [Crawford].
"Getting to pitch in that uniform was cool. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to deliver."
Gaby emerges as option against righties
CINCINNATI -- From the outset, Clint Hurdle said first base would not be a "cookie-cutter" platoon, and Gaby Sanchez can look forward to facing more right-handers after drilling a couple of cookies into the seats Monday night.
Both of Sanchez's homers came off righties, starter Homer Bailey and reliever J.J. Hoover. It was his third start of the season against a right-hander, most of which have gone to lefty-hitting Travis Ishikawa.
"Yeah, we'll continue to pick some spots where the at-bats best suit him," Hurdle said Tuesday prior to the resumption of Monday night's suspended game. "It'll be [based] a little bit on matchups, but it won't be all hard numbers. We're old-school here. We'll also go with what our eyes and gut tell us."
Neil Walker and Sanchez remained in the lineup for the game picked up in the top of the seventh, with the teams tied at 7, so they had a shot at an unprecedented MLB feat: Hitting back-to-back home runs three times in a game. They were due to come up fifth and sixth.
As it was, Walker and Sanchez could boast of something accomplished only once in Pirates history, 60 years ago. On April 27, 1954, Toby Atwell and Jerry Lynch homered back-to-back in the sixth and eighth innings. That also came in Cincinnati, at old Crosley Field.
First number, last word
7: Home runs by Walker in Great American Ball Park, in 29 games, matching his most in any road ballpark (also Miller Park, in 30 games).
"The funny thing was, I think I took the same path Neil had. I remember jumping over the same puddles." - Sanchez, recalling his trot after following Walker's home run with his own for the second time Monday night in the rain-soaked sixth inning.
• This was the first suspended game the Pirates have been involved in since May 1, 2007, when their game against the Cubs in PNC Park was halted in the bottom of the seventh with the Bucs trailing, 6-5. Chicago completed an 8-6 victory the following day.
• Sanchez's multi-homer game was his first since July 23, 2011, with the Marlins.
• The multi-homer game was the second of Walker's career, and they came within his last three games at the Reds' house. He hit two out of Great American Ball Park on Sept. 28, 2013.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.