Pirates, let us count the ways. Second and third, no one out. No one scores. Bases loaded, one out. No one scores. They load the bases with one out again. Again, no one scores.
Matt Capps comes on, for the fourth consecutive game and fresh from blowing his first game of the year. He walked the first batter after being ahead 0-2. Sounds like a recipe for another dismal night in Pittsburgh.
But the Bucs weren't to be denied tonight and ground out a 3-1 win over the Nats. Ian Snell looked like the ace of old, going 6 innings and K'ing 6. He was finally efficient with his pitches, throwing 93 - and 61 were strikes. It was Snell's first W since April 12th, and he's now 3-6.
Capps got back on the bike again, getting a fly out and DP to end the game and notch his 16th save, a day late, maybe, but a rose by any other name...
Can there be a better breakout story than Ryan Doumit? He pumped out three more hits and another dinger, this one right handed. What a difference he makes in the middle of the order, especially with the continued Adam LaRoche funk.
LaRoche is hitting .213, 30 points lower than any other starter. And worse, his slugging percentage is higher than only Jack Splat's and Freddie Sanchez', our middle infielders. John Russell has dropped him to 6th in the order, and he may go lower.
He's batting .194 against lefties, and if they could platoon Joey Bats, they have every reason to do it for LaRoche, too. Our guess is the only reason they haven't is the hope that he snaps out of it so Pittsburgh can move him off its' books.
But hey, if the Pirate pitching keeps it up, Pittsburgh can afford to carry a glove at first base.
On the Pirate front: For all of the incessant yada yada yada, the Bucs haven't been at .500 since they were 7-7 on April 15. They've crept up to within one game of .500 five different times, and rolled back down the hill.
We'd like to see the media fixate on something else, like what the record will be on September 28th.
On the minor league front: Ronny Paulino is now 9-for-13 (.692) with 2 homers, 5 runs scored and 4 RBIs since being optioned to Indy on Friday.
>Class A Lynchburg's SS Brian Friday and 3B Jim Negrych have been chosen to represent the Hillcats in the California-Carolina League All-Star Game. Friday, the club's 3rd selection in last season's draft, is hitting .301 with 41 runs scored. Negrych's .353 batting average and 82 hits lead the Carolina League. The third baseman's 39 RBIs rank third. He's from Pitt.
>Hickory's 3B Bobby Spain was selected as a South Atlantic ("Sally") League All Star. He's hitting .312 with 4 HR's and had a 21 game hitting streak earlier in the season.
Neil Walker and Joey Bats better keep their heads on a swivel - Pedro gets drafted #1, and both Class A third basemen make the All-Star team. A veritable embarrassment of riches for Pittsburgh at the hot corner!
>Brian Rogers, who was released by the Pirates last week, signed on with the Tigers and has been assigned to AAA Toledo. That was his organization before he came to Pittsburgh.
On the draft front: The Bucs signed a gaggle of late round picks today.
They inked C Mark Carver (33) from North Carolina-Wilmington, 3B Matthew Payne (34) of North Carolina State, RHP Allan Knotts (38) of Louisiana Tech, LHP Michael Williams (44) of Mount Olive College, 1B/P Allen Ponder (45) of Auburn at Montgomery, and finally RHP Zachary Foster (49) of Pitt-Bradford.
Carver was a fifth-year senior, setting a school record for RBIs with 82 and hitting .347 with 16 HRs. According to Baseball America, he has an average arm and below-average receiving skills, but is pretty athletic and could move to another spot. The Bucs are gonna try him behind the dish for now.
Payne, a senior, went to school as a pitcher, was converted to the infield, and didn't earn a starting job until this year. He hit .320 with 9 HR's and drew about as many walks as K's at the plate, so he's got a decent eye.
Knotts is another 5th year senior, and he both started and worked out the pen, compiling a 3-3 record with a save and an ERA of 4.74. Williams is a senior and was 8-2 for the D-2 champs, Mt. Olive, with a 4.10 ERA.
Ponder is one of the hybrids that Littlefield loved so much. He went to Alabama as a pitcher, played 2 years, sat out 2, and finished at AUM as a 1B/closer. He was 8-1 with 6 saves and a 2.01 as a reliever, and hit .349 with 18 HR's for his NAIA team. He'll be 25 in September, so he better be a quick read in the minors.
Foster, a junior who attended Bradford HS, was 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 outings, 8 as a starter.
(We got most of their rundowns thanks to WTM's Pirate Player Profiles.