Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stop the presses...

Praise the Lord, the Bucs knocked off the Cubbies. It took awhile - they started an hour before the Penguins game and ended an hour after it, but hey, Jay Bay made sure that if he and his teammates were gonna play for 4-1/2 hours, they were gonna win.

The Cubs lost for the first time in five outings in Pittsburgh, where they have played games of 12, 15 and 14 innings this season. At least the Pirates make them earn it at PNC.

If Tyler Yates hadn't imploded in the eighth inning, Pittsburgh would have walked away with a well played, well pitched 3-1 win. But he did, so the Bucs rode 3 scoreless innings from Matt Capps and three more from John Grabow for a 14 inning, 5-4 win. Let's hope the bullpen isn't called on much tomorrow, although Capps got by with a very efficient 32 pitches.

And give some props to C Raul Chavez, who made a huge play when he picked Alfonso Soriano off second after he had doubled to start the ninth. Chavez may have some miles on the meter, but he catches a nice game.

Bay hit his 12th homer in the fourth and Luis Rivas, of all people, tied it in the ninth with a sac fly. After the bullpens traded zeros almost to the witching hour, Bay finally drove home Freddie Sanchez with the winner.

Phil Dumatrait pitched pretty well and might have stayed in the game longer he hadn't begun the sixth by stopping a line drive with his knee. He shook off the bruise, but walked two batters and allowed a single to load the bases with two out. In came Frankie Osoria, who needed just three pitches to strike out Mark DeRosa.

Damaso Marte added another scoreless inning before Yates gave up his three spot. He walked the first batter, though he could readily gotten the call on a couple of the pitches. Yates also gave up two ground ball hits, with Derrek Lee's double to center being the only well hit ball off of him (and it was smoked!) But the Bucs picked him up tonight.

As good as Bay was - he went 4-6 with 3 RBIs and even stole a base - that's how bad Jose "Joey Bats" Bautista was. He left five runners on, hit into two DP's and struck out looking. He also held on to a ball long enough at third to let a runner easily beat the throw on what should have been a routine out.

John Russell mercifully yanked him after 8 innings. Bautista had done enough damage.

The Pirates had a very respectable crowd of 29,900 on hand, especially considering the Pens were on TV and 13,000 were at the Arena to watch the Stanley Cup final on the big screen. Never underestimate the power of a bobblehead.

On the Pirate front: Going into today's game, Pittsburgh is 1-9 against the Cubs and 21-17 against the rest of the NL. Someone call Ripley.

Remember the hand-wringing when the Pirates broke camp with the questions about their bench? The Bucs ranked third in both pinch-hits (18) and pinch-hit RBIs (nine) in the NL heading into tonight's game.

One of the odder moments in yesterday's game was when Freddie Sanchez' bat shattered - while he was taking practice cuts in the on deck circle. We hope that MLB takes a long look at the fragile maple bats before someone gets speared or blinded by one.

On the minor league front: How are the big three doing at Indy? CF Andrew McCutchen is hitting .293 (6 HR, 21 RBI, 15 SB), OF/DH Steve Pearce .241 (4 HR, 26 RBI - and we wonder if the organization wouldn't be better off playing him at first when Nyjer Morgan, who's hitting .224 with 7 SB's, is in the lineup), and 3B Neil Walker checks in at .211 (6 HR, 25 RBI.)

All three strike out about once every 5+ AB's. OF Kevin Thompson has slowed down some, now batting .295 (4 HR, 12 RBI, 12 SB.)

RHP Brad Lincoln (2-0, 1.80), in his second start for A Hickory since returning from TJ surgery, allowed 1 run and 4 hits in five innings. He K'ed 2, walked 1 and got 8 ground ball outs. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

You think Pittsburgh is bush league? John Odom was released this spring from the Giant farm system, and caught on with the Calgary Vipers, an indie team. And then he was traded to the Laredo Broncos for 10 maple bats.

It ends up he couldn't get work papers from Canada because he was in a fight as a teen and had a record. So the Vipers shipped him to Laredo, where he could continue to ply his trade.

The original deal involved a player swap, but the Bronco's man refused to move to Canada. The teams then worked out an alternate deal for the bats, valued at about $650. Gotta love the indie teams. We wonder if Laredo ever plays the Wild Thing?

On the ex-Pirate front: Julian Tavarez has opted for free agency after being DFA'd by Boston, and Colorado, Milwaukee and Baltimore are poking at his tires.

The Bosox are eating his $3.75M contract after barely using him out of their pen this year, where he compiled a 6.39 ERA in 12-2/3 innings. Tavarez hasn't had a strong season since 2005 with the Cards. The 35 year old RHP has been in the bigs for 16 years and has a career 4.44 ERA.

He pitched in Pittsburgh in 2003, where he was 3-3 with a 3.57 ERA as a reliever.

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