Saturday, June 21, 2008

Home sweet home

The Pirates played a very efficient game against the Jays tonight and were rewarded with a 6-3 win. The Bucs had but six hits, but three left the yard, and that was enough to do the trick. They stranded zero runners.

Paul Maholm was workmanlike. He was bailed out of one spot when Nate McLouth threw out a runner at home, and worked out of another when he jammed super pest David Eckstine with the bases juiced and got a come-backer to end the inning.

It was according to plan - get a lead, get seven innings out of Maholm, and let John Grabow and Matt Capps nail the coffin shut. It's sweet when it works out that way.

Listen, we know that the Blue Jays are on life support right now. But the Pirates weren't far from it after the disastrous White Sox series, and their resilience, especially with Ryan Doumit and Xavier Nady on ice, is great to see.

It was a nice win. Now to see if Ian Snell has figured anything out tomorrow.

Hey, make sure to read Will Pellas' column (Pellas on the Pirates) just below this. He's got some great views on the team, and we're glad to have him join the blogosphere with us.

On the Pirate front: Last night was just the second time in the eight-year history of PNC Park that a game was scoreless through nine innings. The other was against Atlanta Aug. 28, 2002. The Pirates won that one too, 1-0, in the 10th.

The most dramatic overtime shutout in Pittsburgh was when Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon became the first NL pitchers to throw a combined extra inning no-hitter in history against the Astros on July 12, 1997 at TRS. Mark Smith hit a 3-run homer in the 10th to claim that win.

> The Bucs won't clear Doumit for duty behind the dish until he goes a day without showing any symptoms of his concussion. That leaves Doug Mientkiewicz as the back-up catcher. Maybe he'll pitch next.

> John Russell said on Saturday that the Pirates are shooting for Tuesday as a possible return date for both Nady and Doumit, when the Pirates open a three-game set against the Yankees. They're definite scratches for the Blue Jay series.

The Bucs won't come out and say it, but we think they're really pointing to the Yankee series, and are rolling the dice that Doumit and Nady are in the lineup against the Bronx Bombers.

> Nyjer Morgan has 19 stolen bases in 37 games for Indianapolis. He adds some desperately needed speed to a lead footed Pirates lineup that has a major league-low 21 stolen bases this season, and are on pace to end up with under 50 steals in 2008. We hope Russell will take advantage of his wheels when the situation calls for a stolen base.

On the minor league front: Steve Pearce hit his 9th home run, a three-run, walkoff shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He went 3 for 4 with a double, walk, four RBIs and steal. He's hitting .259. 3B Neil Walker, hitting .230, smacked his team-leading 11th home run for Indy.

> Catcher Ronny Paulino, who was optioned to Indianapolis on June 5, has a right ankle sprain suffered during a rundown. He just was placed on the DL.

> RHP Luis Munoz, in his first game since being demoted from Indy to Altoona, allowed 1 run and 4 hits in seven innings. He struck out 6. The Curve did wonders for Evan Meek; let's see if it helps Munoz.

On the draft front:
The Rays agreed to terms with their No. 1 overall draft pick, shortstop Tim Beckham, on Friday, sweetening his deal with a $6.1 million signing bonus. Having the top dog get signed usually helps the rest of the first round fall in line, and we'll see shortly if it comes into play with Scott Boras and Pedro Alvarez.

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