Hey, if Phil Dumatrait could have hit the broad side of a barn after the second inning, the Bucs would have romped. But he couldn't, walking seven batters in his last 2-2/3 innings, and the Pirates went down 4-3. All four Cub tallies were scored by runners that reached base via the free pass.
Adam LaRoche had a big day with a home run and 3 RBIs, but the Pirates' and Cubs' bullpens owned the last three innings of the game. Each struck out 5 opponents, and the Pirates threw perfect ball over the last 3-1/3 innings. The Cubs weren't far behind, giving up just 1 hit and 2 walks over three.
It was a bad day to lose a tight one as everyone else in the division, other than Milwaukee, won today and picked up a game on Pittsburgh. The Bucs are off tomorrow and host the Brew Crew on Tuesday at PNC. Manny Parra will hook up with Paul Maholm.
On the Pirate front: The Pirates today conclude an unusual eight-day stretch that has them playing seven daylight games. After Saturday's win, the Pirates are 8-8 this season in day matches. Four of those losses have come in afternoon contests at Wrigley Field.
Some of the players see early starts as a distinct advantage for the Cubs, who play under the sun all the time at home and don't have to alter their routine. Others believe that like the weather, both teams have to adjust to it and so it's no big deal.
The Cubs are 18-8 at home, 8-9 away. They spend much of June and early July on the road in what could be a telling stretch of games for them.
On the MLB front: No one would have guessed it two months ago, but going into today, the Yankees, Tigers, Padres and Brewers are all in last place of their divisions.
On the local bookworm front: If you feel the urge to curl up with a new book while waiting out the spring monsoons, you could do worse than grabbing John McCollester's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly".
As the blurb says, the book is filled with "Pirates highlights, lowlights, wonderful and wacky memories, legends and goats, the famous, and the infamous." Dr. McCollester is a Lutheran minister raised in Scott Twp. and has written several Bucco books. And we all know the Pirates could stand a little Divine intervention.
There's also a recently released book about New Brighton's Terry Francona, former MLB player whose career was shortened by injuries and current Bosox manager, called “Red Sox Rule.”
The book is written by Point Park University grad Michael Holley, now a radio talk-show host in Boston. It tells the tale of Francona's new-school managerial skills, a must for a Theo Epstein hire, and Boston's Sabermetric road to two World Series crowns in the past four years.