Odalis Perez wasn't Ollie Perez, and that made all the difference tonight. The Bucs managed only three hits against the Nats and wasted a fine effort by Zach Duke, falling 3-2. Duke showed that if his fielders will make some plays behind him, he's still effective.
Two of the Pirates three knocks went yard, with Freddie Sanchez and Ryan Doumit doing the honors. But the first shaky outing by John Grabow gave the lead back to Washington in the eighth, and their bullpen brought it home without breaking a sweat.
The pair of runs Duke gave up in the second were in large part due to some curious managing by John Russell. With one out and runners on second and third, he brought the infield in to the eight hitter Wil Nieves, who grounded a single through the drawn up fielders to bring in both Nats.
We can only guess that with the pitcher on deck, Russell was rolling the dice on escaping without a run. Bad bet.
The game winning run came on a close play at the plate with two outs when Christian Guzman beat Xavier Nady's throw home. Nady's peg was just a bit up the first base line and Guzman dragged his hand across the plate just before a lunging Doumit could get the tag down. If it was on target, Guzman was a goner.
One thing we'd like to add - despite our naysaying, Doumit may yet become a major league catcher. He's still a little slow to react to some pitches, but is doing a better job of keeping still behind the dish and is noticeably improved in framing close pitches. Looks to us like he's calling more of the game on his own, too.
We'll be happy to eat some crow if Doumit continues to make progress behind the plate. It's a pity he took such a long hiatus from the tools of ignorance under the old bosses.
Still, not much to cry about this game but for the obvious. Pittsburgh just got outpitched, not outplayed, and we can live with that.
On the Pirate front: Tom Gorzelanny and John Russell said that the tightness in the lefty's lower back that forced him out of yesterday's game after 5 innings shouldn't cost him a start. He's still penciled in to go Tuesday against the G-Men.
The Pirates today unconditionally released minor league pitching prospect Olivo Astacio, a 6-6, 245 lb. RHP, for what they described as a "significant violation of organizational policy."
Astacio, 23, was added to the 40-man roster last fall because the team liked his power arm. He missed all of spring training with a shoulder injury, and hasn't pitched yet this season. Astacio topped out at Class AA Altoona in 2007 after advancing through two levels of A ball.
The Bucs didn't specify the infraction or say who they planned to put on the 40-man to replace him.
On the ex-Pirate front: The Big Mac attack, Rob Mackowiak, is off to a rough start with the Nats. He has two hits in twenty at bats with eight Ks.
Jose Guillen drove in five runs to lead KC to a 9-5 win over the Rangers Tuesday. He hit his third long ball of the campaign, but his average is still an anemic .190.