Wednesday, April 23, 2008

they may never lose again...

Image from NASA

God put on a pretty nice fireworks show before the game, with lighting bolts filling the sky. Then St. Louis put on a fireworks show of their own in the first inning, scoring four times on Ian Snell.

But the ultimate fireworks came from the Buc bats as they thundered in the last five innings to pound out a 7-4 victory.

Snell started off as funky as the weather, walking a pair and allowing six of the first seven hitters to reach base. But after catching his breath, the will of the wisp righty settled in and threw five goose eggs at the Redbirds.

It wasn't pretty - Snell gave up 8 hits, walked four, beaned one and only had one K to show for his 113 pitches - but he left with the team tied after six.

He saved his best pitch for last, when with two on and two out in the sixth he threw a nasty full-count change up to Albert Pujols and got him to meekly pop to first. Damaso Marte and Matt Capps faced the minimum over the last three innings, Marte getting the W while Capps collected his sixth save.

The Pirates even brought their mitts tonight, playing flawlessly in the field (two games in a row without an error!) and picking up Marte, first with a great grab of a line shot by Xavier Nady in the seventh and then when Ryan Doumit caught a would-be base stealer in the eighth.

Pittsburgh got back in the game in the fourth, when Freddie Sanchez and Jason Bay singled and scored on a Doumit base knock and a Nady sacrifice fly to the track in center. They had the bases juiced with one out, but Brian Bixler and Snell struck out to kill a promising inning. No matter.

The Bucs tied it in the fifth when Sanchez scored ahead of a Bay homer that just made it into the first row of seats in the bleachers. Hey, no one ever said a home run had to go 500' to count; as long as the ball goes an inch higher and further than the wall, it'll do.

It stayed even until the eighth when the Bucco two-out black magic weaved its' spell. Jose Bautista singled home Doumit, and after a Bixler double, Doug Meintkiewicz, batting for Marte, singled to center to drive in the insurance runs.

Capps got three fly outs to close it, and the Bucs concluded another successful if unscheduled fireworks night at PNC.

On the Pirate front:
Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette wrote that the Pirates are last in attendance in MLB, drawing an average crowd of 14,766 before tonight's game. This evening's gate of 10,487 didn't help that number any - weather and product are keeping people home. Then there are those pesky Penguins, too...

Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review dug out a scary fact. The Bucco D has only turned 66.2% of the balls put into play against them into outs. That's not just the worst record in MLB, but one of the worse fielding jobs of the past half century.

With Nady's performance last year and hot bat this year (he's now on an 11 game hitting roll), we'd hope there's some thought being given to keeping the 29-year old outfielder and focusing on moving the 28-year old LaRoche of the annual slow start and contractual impasse.

Both Nady and uberprospect Steve Pearce started at first and were pretty good gloves there. We'd guess they're looking to see if Nady can last an entire season without his twitchy leg acting up.

After losing seven games in a row when the opponent scored first, the Bucs have come on to win the last two nights after the bad guys had drawn first blood

The A's picked up outfielder Rajai Davis from the Giants. The G-Men had DFA'ed him. He's expected to be a bench player in Oakland. Maybe they'd like Matty Mo, too...?

The Cards brought a pair of ex-Bucs to town with them. 38-year old lefty Ron Villone, who was with the team back in 2002, is in the Redbird pen while Cesar Izturis, another curious Dave Littlefield pick up at the end of last season, is the StL starting shortstop, though he was out tonight with an elbow bruise.

On the Card front: Albert Pujols is on track to collect 154 walks this year, a Bond-esque number, as the league's pitchers continue to work around him with runners on. He wasn't walked tonight, although Snell did plunk him with a pitch.

Tony LaRusso continues to pencil his pitcher in the 8th spot of the lineup, using the Pony League concept of a double leadoff by batting a real hitter ninth. Tonight Aaron Miles, batting .295, was the nine hole hitter.

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