Mama and Papa Dumatrait must be so proud tonight. Their son Phil won his first MLB game, and in pretty convincing style.
He scattered three hits and struck out five without yielding a run in 5-2/3 innings to earn his first W, 3-1. Dumatrait was yanked after 78 pitches, and not because he was in trouble. "I just thought it was time," John Russell said. "He hasn't been that deep in the game and I had the feeling it was time to get him out."
He's apparently on a pretty strict pitch count regimen, even though Russell has said he'd let him get to the 100 pitch mark. His ERA is down to 3.86, so whatever Russell and Jeff Andrews are doing with him, it's working so far.
Dumatrait outpitched Barry Zito. While Zito's hit on tough times, he's just the kind of hurler the Bucs have trouble solving - he throws soft and softer.
The trio of Xavier Nady, Jason Bay, and Nate McLouth did all the damage, and the bullpen was up to the task of putting the G-Men to bed tonight, although Matt Capps made it interesting.
But ex-Buc Jose Castillo came to the rescue, bouncing into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game against his old mates.
Russell rolled out another different lineup tonight. The order was Sanchez, Bautista, McLouth, Bay at cleanup, Nady, LaRoche, Paulino and Bixler.
We might have put Bay second and Bautista sixth, but hey - if it works, who are we to harp? We'll see what he pulls out of the hat tomorrow when Ryan Doumit is behind the dish.
It was a good day to pitch. Ump Rob Drake had a generous strike zone, and perhaps because of that, the batters were fishing all night. It's nice to get a couple wins outta the five spot in the rotation, something Pittsburgh couldn't do when Matty Mo trailed the pitching parade.
The game drew less than 10,000. They should get a bigger crowd tomorrow - if it doesn't rain, thunder and lightning - to catch a businessman's special with Paul Maholm matching up with Giant wunderkind Matt Cain.
Then the Braves come to town. It'll be interesting to see how the teams match up now after putting on a three-ring circus act to start the season.
On the Pirate front: The Bucs actually lead the league in a couple of categories that aren't negative. They've turned the most DP's, with 40 (although with all the runners Pirate pitching has allowed...) And the X-Man took over the lead in RBIs with his 2 run shot, with 34, to nose ahead of the 'Stros Lance Berkman.
And how about Damaso Marte? His 5.06 ERA would make you think he's lost his stuff, but he's retired 20 straight hitters and struck out 20 of the 63 batters he's faced this season, including K'ing the side in the 8th tonight.
GM Neal Huntington confirmed that the Pirates are in discussions with Tampa Bay, trying to work out an agreement that would keep Evan Meek, who cleared waivers today, with the Pittsburgh organization. The talks have involved both cash considerations and player trades.
It's always nice to see San Francisco. The Pirates have won 12 of the last 14 games against the Giants.
More than 7,000 area school children will take part in the first two Pittsburgh Pirates "Education Days" starting tomorrow when the Bucs take on the San Francisco Giants and again on Monday when they host the Atlanta Braves.
Teachers will be given a lesson plan that involves Pirates baseball and in-game entertainment while covering subjects like history, math and geography. To think we had to shoot hookey to get out of school and see a ball game back in the day...
On the injury front: Gorzo should be ready to go Saturday, but Jack Wilson told the FSN crew that he's 2-3 weeks away from returning. We expect a steady diet of Bixler at short for the foreseeable future.