Coulda, shoulda...the Bucs had a chance to steal a victory against an uncharacteristically wild Johan Santana, but in true team fashion, they failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them and lost 5-4 in eleven innings.
The loss went to John Van Benschoten, but he shouldn't have been in that position. If Ian Snell could have handed the ball to the bullpen in the 7th instead of the 5th, he wouldn't have been in tonight's game. Snell lasted 4-1/3, giving up 4 runs, 5 hits and 5 walks. The Pirates need Snell to step up to last year's level.
John Russell bringing JVB in with Evan Meek and Matt Capps still available for duty is a puzzler to us. He would have been our last option, given the fact he's a mop up man and hadn't appeared in a game yet this year, but Russell elected to throw him in the fire from the git-go. The results were predictable.
The Bucs had plenty of chances to take the game. They left the bases loaded in the sixth when Adam LaRoche popped out. The had runners on first and third in the seventh, and Jose Bautista was caught at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch.
The bases were juiced again in the eighth with a run in, but Bautista bounced into a forceout at home and pinch hitter Ronny Paulino swung at the first pitch and popped it up for the third out.
The Bucs were clutch in the ninth when Freddie Sanchez' two-out single tied the game. Pittsburgh wasted a double in the 10th a single in the 11th. The money hit wasn't on the menu today.
Nate McLouth and Jay Bay both homered early to plate the other trio of Pirate runs.
They say it's a team game, and the loss was a team effort today.
On the hot stove front: Devan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette has an article on Buccos available to the highest bidder: Pirate Trade Pieces Raise Stakes
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports writes that most teams wait 40 games to determine their needs, but as April draws to a close, the trade market already is beginning to take shape. Xavier Nady and Jay Bay are virtually certain to be available before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, he sez:
Nady is off to his usual fast start, and the Pirates should begin exploring the market for him immediately. Bay, too, is hitting, but his defense in left field draws as much disdain from rival executives as Dunn's. (We guess Rosenthal hasn't watched Bay much this year; he's much improved in LF now that his wheels are turning.)
Both players are under control through 2009 — Nady is earning $3.35 million in arbitration this season, while Bay is signed for $5.75 million this season and $7.5 million in '09.
The Pirates' new front office was largely inactive last off-season, gambling that Bay, in particular, would restore his value. As the deadline nears, the team figures to turn more aggressive.
Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd said Monday the club is discussing internally whether to pursue Matt Morris, though it's unlikely given the right-hander's performance. Morris, 0-4 with a 9.67 ERA, will clear waivers Wednesday.
The Rockies, Cardinals and Mariners attempted to acquire the veteran at the trading deadline last July. Barry Axelrod, Morris' agent, said Monday his client would need a few days to clear his head before making decisions about his future, according to the Denver Post.
The Bucs offered Morris a job in the organization when they released him.
It all could be academic. According to Justin Rodriguez of the Times-Herald Record, Matty Mo has retired. He said that he has no desire to battle his way back or work out of the bullpen.
On the college front: Phil Axelrod of the Post Gazette has a nice recap of the local collegiate scene, including Duquesne's shot at the A-10 crown: Duquesne Eyes First Baseball Title