Notes: Veteran Bay coming around
Slugger hopes big night Tuesday will begin hot streak
NEW YORK -- One game does not a season make -- but in the case of Jason Bay, it sure does help.
Bay's breakout performance on Tuesday night -- three hits, two homers and three RBIs -- was the first time he's posted a multi-hit game in over two weeks, the first time he's had two extra-base hits in almost two months and the first time he's had two homers in almost a year.
Not to mention the first time he's felt in a groove for as long as he can remember.
"I felt as good as I have all year," Bay said. "That's what I'm trying to get to."
This season hasn't been a total bust for Bay, despite sharp drops in his power and plate discipline. Last year, he was averaging a homer once every 16.2 at-bats, and a walk once every 6.7 plate appearances. This year, those numbers have risen to 24.1 and 10.0, respectively.
Bay showed signs of breaking out in May, batting .336 with four home runs and 22 RBIs. But in June and July the average fell to even lower depths, and he's batting just .177 since his so-called breakout month.
"How I felt a month ago when I was going well, it was just not there," Bay said. "[Tuesday], I kind of had it where I was just kind of back in a rhythm, seeing the ball, it was slowing down and everything. So hopefully I can take this through the last couple months of the season."
Granted, it was just one game. Perhaps it was a spark, perhaps it was a fluke, or perhaps it was just the New York air -- Bay is, after all, hitting .394 with four homers in his last eight games against the Mets. But whatever it was, Pirates manager Jim Tracy saw enough in four at-bats to bump his slugger back into the cleanup spot, a place he hasn't occupied in almost two weeks. That's an awfully long dry spell for a player that hit fourth almost exclusively a year ago.
But then again, a year ago, games like Tuesday happened all the time.
"When you see him swing the bat like that," Tracy said, "he doesn't belong hitting sixth."
Tom Terrific: The Pirates have won 41 games this year. Tom Gorzelanny has won nine, good for 22 percent of his team's wins.
That may not seem like much on the surface, but it's certainly an impressive feat. For comparison's sake, last year's NL Cy Young Award winner, Brandon Webb, won 21 percent of his team's games, and that was with a losing team. The past three starters to win the award, in fact, have won a combined 21.3 percent of their teams' games.
Amongst starters pitching for losing teams this year, only Cincinnati's Aaron Harang and San Francisco's Noah Lowry own a higher percentage of their team's wins, with Lowry's 24.4 percent leading the pack.
Left in center: Outfielder Nate McLouth -- owner of just 12 at-bats against lefties this season -- was hitting leadoff and playing center field on Wednesday, first in line to take his hacks against perhaps the wiliest lefty of them all.
The move, oddly, makes sense. McLouth hit lefties at a .260 clip last season, and homered about three times as often in the limited at-bats he received. And Mets starter Tom Glavine -- for all his fame -- has allowed left-handed hitters to batter him for a .348 average. For his career, the split is almost dead even.
"We have to get [McLouth] some more at-bats to find out," Tracy said. "I think it behooves you if you have some left-handed hitting in the lineup against Tommy, and the numbers would strongly back that up. So if you're going to try to see how he's continuing to do or going to continue to do against left-handed pitching, this is obviously a pretty good spot to take a shot."
Adam LaRoche -- the only other lefty on the team -- was also in the starting lineup against Glavine.
Down on the farm: Marty McLeary struck out six for Triple-A Indianapolis over six innings of two-run ball, but took a no-decision in an eventual 5-2 loss to Columbus. ... Infielders Steven Pearce and Neil Walker mashed out a combined four hits, two walks and five RBIs to lead Double-A Altoona over Binghamton, 7-2. The 24-year-old Pearce is now batting .331 with 24 doubles in 272 at-bats with the Curve.Coming up: Two more lefties do battle in the series finale at Shea on Thursday at 12:10 p.m. ET, as the Pirates get their first look at former teammate Oliver Perez in a Mets uniform. The Bucs counter with Paul Maholm, who will attempt to string together his fifth quality start in six tries.
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.