Saturday, May 10, 2008

Is that the Pirates?

Ronny Paulino from
(photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez of AP)

They say a diamond is a girl's best friend. Well, if you're a pitcher, a double play is yours. And boy, did that ever prove true tonight.

The Buc's turned 4 DP's against the Braves, giving them 6 over the two game series and a league leading 46 for the season, and they were the key to a 5-2 win.

The game started as another "here we go again" affair, with Tom Gorzelanny giving up a double, homer, and walk, putting Pittsburgh in a quick 2-0 hole before they even got to bat. But that was to be it for the Braves, which have only four wins on the road so far this year.

There were a lot of things to like for the 28,000+ that came out for the game. First was Gorzo getting into the eighth inning, scattering 7 hits and walking only two while whiffing four. His velocity isn't great - his heater topped out at 89 MPH, although tonight it did have good sinking movement. His control was good, too - 60 of his 92 pitches were strikes.

And Gorzo came through as a fielder, too. He threw out the lead runner on sacrifice bunt attempts twice, and snared a liner to start a DP. We hope the rest of the staff was taking notes. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

The fans were treated to a rare Jay Bay - Adam LaRoche double steal (it was LaRoche's second career stolen base!) that set up a run when Bay scored on a short sac fly with a sweet backdoor slide. Ronny Paulino took the batting honors tonight with 3 RBIs.

John Russell gave Nate McLouth the night off against lefty Chuck James, and his sub, new Pirate Jason Michaels, came up with three hits and a pair of runs scored. He even had the luck of the Irish on his side - cleanly picked off first, the ump missed seeing the tag and called him safe. Bay slammed the very next pitch into the stands.

Frankie Osaria faced one hitter, and got him to bounce into a DP. Matt Capps, whose 93% save percentage leads all active NL pitchers (he's behind Mariano Rivera and Todd Jones overall), came in and nailed down the win with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 9th save of the year.

It's hard to believe that a week ago, this same team lost 3 out of 4 to the Washington Nats. The Pirates were a train wreck.

But since they've been home, the starting pitching has been strong, the bullpen stalwart, the fielding professional, and they're hitting in the clutch. Sure is nice to see a real baseball team wearing Pirate uniforms for a change.

On the hot stove front: "If Jason Isringhausen can't correct his mechanics, St. Louis could be in the market for a closer come July. Closers who could be available include Matt Capps..." according to Coley Ward in a post on the MLB Trade Rumor site. And Capps was part of a very short list.

His name hasn't surfaced as trade bait for awhile. We wonder if Capps' long term contract spat is a bigger problem than we thought or if Ward is just idly speculating?

It adds that the Bucs will try to fill their open 40-man spots (they still have a pair of unfilled slots) through low profile moves, like the Jason Michaels signing. They won't deal players like Bay or Nady until they're truly out of it, as first reported by Dejan Kovacevic in the Post Gazette.

So don't hold your breath waiting for the the new bosses' signature deal quite yet. After all, the Bucs are only 4-1/2 games out of the wildcard spot and 5 behind the Cards, hehe. Hope springs eternal...

On the ex-Pirate front: The Padres called up outfielder Jody Gerut from Portland to take Jim Edmonds' roster spot (Edmonds was released after hitting .178 and not being able to catch a cold.) Gerut hit .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI in 27 games at Portland. He made San Diego's opening day roster before being optioned to AAA.

No comments: