The Florida Marlins got the W in Fort Lauderdale tonight, but make no mistake. They didn't win the game. The Pirates lost it. There were no extra inning heroics to overcome the self-inflicted wounds this time.
They could have easily chased Scott Olsen out of Dolphin Stadium in the first two innings. But after the one-two hitters reached base in the first, the heart of the order struck out looking and hit into a broken bat double play.
In the second, a runner was picked off second. Pittsburgh plated three runs; they could have just as easily had 5 or maybe more before the fans found their seats. That might have been enough to put it to bed early.
The Marlins kept pumping fastballs over the heart of the plate, in the high 80's early when Olsen was pitching and the low 90s when Florida got to their pen. They went right at the hitters, and they won. Pirate batters either swung through them or fouled them back. Pittsburgh flunked BP!
They committed errors number 5 and 6 in one Abbott and Costello sequence, allowing a run. Two guys were thrown out at second, and another was picked off after a bunt attempt went astray. Pittsburgh scored when Doumit ran through a stop sign. Who's running the asylum?
There was again no production from the 3-4 spots in the lineup. Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche have no, as in zero, RBIs yet this year. Xavier Nady can't save their bacon every night.
Matt Morris - Matty Mo, as FSN announcers call him - left far too many of his balls up in the second and third. He threw over 60 pitches in just those two innings and was lucky to escape with just a three spot against him, although he did settle down during the fourth and fifth. Heck, even the pitcher hit a pair of shots off him, including a two-out RBI liner into right.
And what's with Freddie Sanchez? We'd like to know what's really wrong with his shoulder - inflammation is a symptom, not an injury. Did he get any cortesone or treatments, or is this going to be a long term problem?
We hope warm weather is the cure, but in the back of our minds, we're suspecting something worse than a sore, puffy shoulder. The brass said today's scratch was precautionary, so maybe they are just using kid gloves in the short term.
As for our other boo-boo boy, John Russell said that team doctors will evaluate Jack Wilson over the next few days, and determine whether or not he'll have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list. It doesn't sound good to us.
Gonna be a busy month for Luis Rivas. We may see a lot of him and Chris Gomez manning the middle infield.
The schedule makers were kind to the Bucs, starting them off against Atlanta and Florida. But with the Cubs, Reds, Dodgers and Cubs again next on the slate, they better straighten out fast or they'll be facing a long April. It's only four games in, but the wheels need oiled already.
On the contract front: The Pirates inked Matt Capps to a two-year deal worth $3,050,000 before today's game. His 2008 salary was increased a bit to $500,000 and he was given a $250,000 signing bonus.
He'll make $2,300,000 in 2009, which is his first arbitration year. He can earn up to $150,000 in performance bonuses the second year, based on games closed: $50,000 each for 50, 55 and 60 games finished.
Both sides are happy. Capp was shown some love, and the Pirates have a window to determine his 2010 market value, not to mention the all-important cost certainty that the arrangement brings to both parties.
The Pirate payroll is now at about $51,500,000 this year. We're in Oakland's ballpark, but way below the other NL Central teams. The payrolls as of opening day: AP MLB Payrolls