Monday, June 2, 2008

Another salami...

Say this for the Pirates - they don't quit. Down 4-0 in the seventh, a hit and a couple of walks loaded the sacks for Jason Michaels, coming in cold off the bench with two outs. All he did was launch one into the bullpen to tie the game.

First, Luis Rivas, now Jay Michaels. When will the madness end? Michaels' pitch-hit slam was the first for Pittsburgh since Craig Wilson hit one against Milwaukee in 2003, and his third career bases juiced jack.

An inning later, again with two gone, Jay Bay drove in Nate McLouth, who got to second after a leadoff single on a Jack Splat sac bunt, with the game winner. Frankie Osoria, Damaso Marte and Matt Capps shut down the Cards over the final three, and the Bucs earned a split with an unlikely win over St. Louis.

Gorzo pitched an OK game, going 6 innings and giving up 4 runs on 7 hits. The outing actually lowered his ERA, to 7.22. He was spraying the ball some, but did hit his spots often enough to hang in. Still, that 89 MPH heater...

Give some props to the Card fans, among the most knowledgeable in the league. They gave McLouth a prolonged ovation after he made a dazzling, back to the plate catch to take away a possible triple from Aaron Miles in the first inning.

All in all, a sweet way to end a road trip.

And a huge GW high five to the Pens, who stayed alive with a triple overtime win in the Motor City. The kids are all right. Marc Andre Fleury was awesome.

On the Pirate front: Gorzo better rediscover his form in a hurry. During his Sunday radio show, GM Neal Huntington said the minors are an option if he can't find his groove.

Huntington was quoted by the Post Gazette as saying "We have to figure out the best course of action to get him back to his potential. Whether we can do that at the major league level, or that does take going to Indianapolis...we're still a ways away from that, but the reality is that we have to help Tom Gorzelanny."

Of course, the bigger issue isn't whether he deserves sent down or not. The question is whether there's anyone at Indy that can do any better. If the brass think not, then they might as well let him work it out in Pittsburgh.

>Jack Wilson is expected to be back in the Pirates' lineup for the team's final game of it seven-game road trip on Monday night. But as Sunday showed, nothing is certain when it comes to his leg, when he was scratched from the lineup just before game time for the second straight time.

Jack Splat felt a "pinch" behind his knee during the pre-game warmups, and John Russell opted to let Wilson fight another day.

>Russell said he hopes to get Bryan Bullington some work out of the bullpen in the next few days since the RHP hasn't thrown in a game since May 25.

>The MLB scheduling is hard to figure; we suppose it just proves the old adage that it takes a computer to really screw up. Pittsburgh meets Houston, a division rival, for the first time this year tomorrow, in game #58. Then they meet them a half dozen times in July and seven more times in September.

Couldn't the league have penciled in an Astro series or two instead of the quadzillion Cub games?

On the minor league front: Pitcher Jeff Sues, 24, was promoted to AA Altoona a couple of weeks ago. The right-hander had been one of Lynchburg’s more effective relievers, posting a 2.11 ERA in 13 appearances, with 17 Ks to 6 walks.

This kinda slipped under our radar, but since he's been there, Sues has pitched 9 innings in 5 outings, with a 1-0 record, 2.00 ERA, and 12 K's to 3 walks. The 6'4", 220 pounder was drafted in 2005 from Vandy with a great heater, but has spent considerable time on the DL. Sues is a converted starter and may bear watching.

Altoona, still in a 22-32 funk record-wise, won 6 out of 7 games on its' just concluded road trip. Then they came home and lost. Go figure.


WilliamJPellas said...

Regarding that awesome comeback win versus the Cardinals, Nate McLouth was indeed sacrificed to second base by Jack Wilson, and from there Jason Bay drove him home. Pirates win, all is right with the world....except that I'm beginning to wonder about McLouth's basestealing game. Ron, did you know that before this season, Nate had NEVER been thrown out by a catcher when trying to steal second base? It's true! Nate the Great had been caught stealing a TOTAL of 2 times for his CAREER heading into this season (out of 38 attempts). This season he has just 5 SBs while being caught 3 times---though 2 of those were pickoffs from wily veteran lefthanded pitchers (Ted Lilly being one of them) and the other was a disputed call at second base.

Still, I know that Nate had a hamstring bothering him in spring training, and while he's unquestionably been the Bucs' best player this season, I'm wondering if his leg is still hurting given the fact that his running game has been MIA most of the year. Such as in the Cardinals game. Yeah, it worked out great, but wouldn't it have been even better if Nate had stolen second, then been bunted to third? Not sure why he wasn't running there, and in fact hasn't been running much at all.

Ron said...

Bill, that's a great observation, and something we've been wondering about - not just McLouth, but the whole package.
It'd seem like Nate and probably Jay Bay should have green lights to go on their own. (We really think Bay could swipe a dozen or so sacks, though putting him in cleanup kinda squelches that thought.)
The team, God knows, isn't built for speed, but we'd like to see some more guys move along from first to third or second to home instead of station to station and a bit more hit and run.
Maybe Russell's just leery of the hand he was dealt with a bunch of average to below speed runners and the circus the Pirates put on running the bases early in the year.
But you're right - as the season winds along, you'd think we'd see a more aggressive attitude on the bases. They've picked their spots where they've shown some flashes; it could be he wants them to have some success first. It looks like he wants the team to learn how to crawl before he lets them run.

WilliamJPellas said...

Certainly this Pirates team is in general a bunch of leadfoots. But yes, Bay and especially McLouth are definitely legitimate basestealers. Bay is more in the "pick his spots" category, and of course with his knee injuries I'm sure he can't be as fast as he once was. But he is still a smart baserunner and capable of more than he's shown to this point.

McLouth is a legitimate basestealing threat. Not quite elite in terms of his raw footspeed, but still very fast and otherwise an expert at reading pitchers.

Why the two of them don't have at least twice the number of swipes that they have is beyond me. Especially when it comes to McLouth, which is what has me wondering if he isn't a little bit hurt. I mean, he hasn't looked gimpy when playing center field, but on the other hand he just hasn't been running much.

I sure hope it's not a John Russell thing, because I hate the whole American League, station-to-station style of baseball. One complaint I always had about Jim Leyland was that he was an AL-style manager, successful as he was for us here in the NL.