Friday, May 23, 2008

The Cubs again...?

Hey, the Bucs banged out a win. The Brewers copied a page from Pittsburgh's playbook last night and stranded 14 runners, blowing their best opportunity to sweep a series at PNC by an 8-4 count.

Nate McLouth got 4 hits, Jay Bay and Xavier Nady homered, and Chris Gomez chipped in with another hallmark two-out, bases loaded dink to carry the attack.

Gorzo was just OK, as all the starting pitching has been lately, but tonight the Pirate bats had enough life to bring home the win.

Tonight's game will feature the rematch of Zach Duke and Carlos Zambrano. We'll see if Zambrano can refrain from breaking a bat over his body at PNC.

And we give a tip of the cap to John Russell. Even though Jack Wilson has been out of the lineup all year, with Ryan Doumit recently joining him, he's managed to piece together an efficient lineup, even with more holes on the card than hitters.

When the Pirates score four or fewer runs, they're 6-21. But they're 16-4 when they score at least five, and their last 8 wins have been earned by putting together at least a five spot or better.

His starting pitching has been horrid, even by Pirate standards, and their 5.51 ERA is MLB's worst. We won't even talk about the fielding. But he's managed to cobble things together enough for the team to stick around most nights.

Yah, we know he hangs pitchers out to dry way too often - one part tough love and another to save his bullpen - and made some on-field moves that leave us scratching our heads. He'll never be one to coach by the book.

The season could have started off as a train wreck, but he's juggled his handful of bats and arms in the pen about as well as can be hoped. Russell's kept the team playing hard, if not well, nine innings a game so far this year.

Of course, the key is to see what he can do with a real team. And that test won't come this year.

On the injury front: Jack Splat is slated to be back in a Bucco uniform on Tuesday. Ryan Doumit is taking some swings at the air now, and may not be gone quite as long as first thought. That's good news, though it cuts down on the time Ronny Paulino has to audition for the rest of the league.

On the homeboy front: 6'5" Milwaukee lefty Zach Jackson, who pitched a couple of innings last night, is a Seneca Valley HS grad. The 25 year old was born in Latrobe and brought up in Cranberry.

Jackson was drafted in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004 after completing his junior year at Texas A&M. He pitched well, jumping to Triple-A in his first year. The Blue Jays traded him along with Dave Bush and Gabe Gross to the Brewers for Lyle Overbay and Ty Taubenheim in December 2005.

He started 7 games for the Brew Crew in 2006, going 2-2 with a 5.36 ERA. Jackson's had a rough couple of years at AAA Nashville and his star has lost a lot of its' shine.

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