Wednesday, April 16, 2008

back to earth with a thud

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Watching a game that Matt Morris starts is kinda like watching one of the Alamo movies. You know the good guys are gonna hang around for a little bit, but it always ends up the same. The troops eventually get overwhelmed.

It's a mystery of sorts how he can nibble away and keep his stuff down for three or four innings, and then suddenly everything he throws comes in at the belt with the usual disastrous results. Worse yet, when it happens, he looks like he's fighting himself, not a good sign from a guy signed to be a veteran leader.

Morris doesn't have much room at all for error, and when he makes a mistake, you can bet a slew more will follow. He's become the team's stopper, but in the wrong sense.

That was the plot line of last night's game. He was a batter away from getting through the fifth with the team still in it, down only 3-1. But Morris couldn't get that third out, and by the time he and Phil Dumatrait were done throwing some gasoline on the fire, it was 8-1 just like that.

Evan Meek couldn't build on his last good outing, and by the time the smoke cleared, it was the Pirates that were smoked, 11-2.

There were a couple of positives to take from the game. Nate McLouth pounded out two more hits, and his batting streak is now 14 games. The back end of the bullpen got a well deserved evening to kick back and save their arms for another day.

Jose Bautista couldn't get a ball out of his mitt, allowing a runner to reach base and giving the Bucs their majors-leading twentieth error of the season. We're number one! And that's about it.

Paul Maholm will match up against Brad Penny tonight, for those hardy enough to stay glued to the radio after the Penguin game.

On the Pirate front: Chris Duffy's shoulder isn't coming around, and he got a cortisone shot today to see if that will loosen it up. Recent pain during his long-toss rehab sent him back to his surgeon, Dr. Lewis Yocum, who gave him the shot. If that doesn't work, then he's getting an MRI next, according to the team.

McLouth's 14 game streak is the hottest start a Buc has had in over 30 years. The last Pirate to open a season with hits in 14 consecutive games was Pops Stargell in 1976.

BTW, the longest modern day hitting streak by a Pirate is 26 games, by Kenny Lofton in 2003 and Danny O'Connell in 1953. The longest ever is 27 games, rung up by Jimmy Williams in 1899.

And the reward hitting coach Don Long earned for getting McLouth up to speed? When he doubled in the eighth, his bat splintered, most of it flying into the Buc bench. Long caught a faceful of wood, and ended up with ten stitches in his cheek.

On the MLB front:
Many players in the league wore #42 yesterday to celebrate the 61st anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color line in baseball on April 15th, 1947.

Los Angeles starter Hong-Chih Kuo had a weird streak himself last night. After walking three batters in a row, he came back and struck out the next five. He figured it out pretty quick - taking notes, Matt?

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