Ya could see this one coming. All the papers and TV talking heads were yapping about a Pirate sweep of the Nats and the surge into interleague play. Most ballplayers say they don't read the papers; the Bucs sure shouldn't have today.
Well, forget the sweep. In one of the more crushing defeat suffered at PNC, the Pirates lost 7-6 to Washington. The Nats had the middle of its' order out and the fewest home runs in the league, but banged out five blasts, one with two away in the ninth, to stun Pittsburgh, which had one of the best finishing records in baseball.
The Pirates blew a 4-1 lead in the seventh and a 6-5 lead in the ninth.
There were a couple of bright spots. Ryan Doumit was a monster, crushing two homers and adding a pair of doubles. He also slid headfirst into second and escaped with his thumb in one piece, so that's a plus too.
The chatter about Freddie Sanchez' shoulder should also be laid to rest after watching the great relay he made from right to easily gun out Lastings Milledge at the plate.
We're not exactly sure what problem child Elijah Dukes did to set off Manny Acta, but the Nat's manager lit into him during the dugout celebration of Milledge's game winner.
When the team lined up for the customary high fives after the game, Dukes pulled the old junior high snub and ignored Acta. But as the game ended, Acta was walking Dukes back to the locker room with his arm around his shoulder, chatting into his ear. Tough love in DC, we guess.
As for the Pirates, well, they've been resilient all season, and we hope this doesn't launch them into their traditional June swoon. Maybe a little lesson on hubris will do the boys some good.
On the Pirate front: Looks as if nobody outside Pittsburgh appreciates the work that Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady and Jay Bay have done so far this year.
McLouth is the only one getting any All-Star ballot-box love, and he's just 11th among OFs, while Bay and Nady haven't cracked the top 15. As Rodney Dangerfield sez, "I don't get no respect..."
On the minor league front: Altoona RHP Yoslan Herrera was named the Bank of America Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for the week ending Sunday. In his lone start during the week, the 27-year-old Cuban tossed a career-high eight scoreless innings.
On the draft front: A word of caution to those Bucco fans that are goo-goo over the Pirate draft haul. It's true that in the back end rounds they picked some toolsy, upside kids that projected to go much earlier in the draft.
What's also true is that Pittsburgh has little chance to lure them away from college unless they bury them in big bucks. They're not "steals" - their price will be dear.
And they won't hop aboard unless one or two of the kahunas at the head of the list don't ink a deal, freeing up some extra loot. The Buc's pot of gold isn't unlimited (don't we know that!), but the later picks are just a solid Plan B to keep the system bubblin' away if the big boys decide to wait it out another year.
We see it as a nice, professional draft with an acceptable amount of risk, given the state of the Pirate organization. But it doesn't mean a thing if you can't get the right names signed on the dotted line. August 15th, the contract deadline, is draft D-Day. Then we can start rating and debating the newest class of Pirates.
And don't hold your breath waiting. Pedro Alvarez not only has Scott Boras working for him, but intends to finish school (which is a big thumbs-up in our book.) We don't expect a quick deal being cut for him, and the rest of the draft won't fall into place until he puts his "X" on the paper.
On the high school front: Canon-McMillan cruised past Central Mountain, 14-0, to reach the AAAA-PIAA championship game. AA Burrell whipped unbeaten Sharon 8-1 to advance to the state finals. Carmichaels stopped the Serra try for state A titles in football, basketball and baseball when they jumped on the Eagles early and took a 6-0 victory. AAA Trinity lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Somerset.
>On the girl's side of the ledger, Latrobe's Alexa Bryson shut out Central York, 1-0, in 13 innings, giving up 5 hits and striking out 25. Bryson hasn't allowed a run in the postseason, covering 6 games and 51 innings. Pretty good stuff from the senior, who has one more hill to climb, the AAAA championship.
WPIAL A Champ Vincentian beat Bishop Guilfoyle 7-2 to earn a title shot.
AAA Belle Vernon fell 2-0 to Susquehannock. The WPIAL teams in AA got knocked out early, and Bald Eagle will represent the west.