Ah, a little payback. No, not during the early mashup between the teams, but when the Bucs finally turned the tables on a wild pitcher, in this case none other than the Big Unit.
Doug Mientkiewicz walked to lead off the third. He scored - on Luis Rivas' bases loaded walk. Jason Michaels walked with one out in the fourth. He scored. Jack Splat walked to begin the fifth. He scored. Mientkiewicz walked again to start the sixth. He scored again. Spot a trend?
Randy Johnson walked 5 in his 5-2/3 innings. Four scored, and the other drove in a run. How often has this happened against Pittsburgh? Sweet to be on the fat end of that stick for once, hey?
Zach Duke quietly put together another nice game, evening his record at 4-4 and dropping his ERA to 4.10. He went six, giving up a pair of runs on five hits, and striking out 5.
Damaso Marte and Tyler Yates came on to provide a little drama before Matt Capps got the call, and nine pitches later, he had netted his 15th save in 15 tries. The Bucs finished on top 5-3 to salvage a draw of the four game set with the D-Backs.
Yates wildness hasn't hurt the Pirates yet, but it's beginning to become a little worrisome. We hope he can find his eye if he's gonna keep pitching in the seventh. After all, his rep as a wild thing is what got him dealt to Pittsburgh.
The boys got a little feisty in the heat. Arizona manager Bob Melvin was ejected by home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg after arguing that a double was a homer in the second. Boo hoo, hehe. Then the clubs threatened to have a third inning smack down when Mientkiewicz and Johnson exchanged looks and then words.
The benches and bullpens emptied, but a tennis match broke out and calm was restored. Who woulda thunk the Zachster would outdo the Big Unit - and have more K's, to boot?
All in all, a fine way to spend a summer afternoon.
On the Pirate front: How good has the bullpen fivesome of Tyler Yates, Frankie Osoria, Damaso Marte, John Grabow and Matt Capps been? Today, the Pirates ran their record to 21-0 when leading after six innings. The outings haven't all been gems, but plenty good enough to close the deal.
>Jason Michaels was ejected for arguing a strike call yesterday. He was playing for the gimpy Xavier Nady, and as a result, Doug Mientkiewicz had to sub in right field for only the 6th time in his 11 year career. We hope John Russell explained the difference between passionate and stupid to Mr. Michaels.
On the minor league front: Indy scored 5 times in the ninth to pull out a 9-7 win. TJ Beam ran his record to 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA and Jesse Chavez, who's coming out of a recent pitching funk, got the save, his fourth. His ERA is 3.44.
Neil Walker hit his 8th and 9th long balls of the year, picking up 4 RBI's and his average, now at .237. The thought of Pedro coming aboard seems to have brought out the best in Walker.
Ronny Paulino is batting clean-up for the Indians, and went 2-5 tonight with a double.
>The Pirates made an interesting move when they signed Franklyn German to a AAA contract a few days ago. The 6'7", 260 lb. Dominican RHP has pitched for Detroit, Florida and Texas, and boasts a high-90's heater and a split finger fastball. German, 28, is considered to have closer potential.
His only drawback? In 158-2/3 big league innings, he's struck out 114 - and walked 119! So far in Indy, it's been 2 innings, 2 K's, 2 walks.
>Brian Rogers, the pitcher the Bucs bagged from the Tigers for Sean Casey, was released to open a spot. The suits didn't see him as having a major league arm. The transition from soft throwers to flame throwers continues.
>Altoona had a big night too, winning 13-5. Shelby Ford became just the tenth player in Curve history to record five hits in a single game. 5-for-6 on the evening, the 2B was a homer shy of the cycle and finished the night with a triple, double and three singles along with a pair of runs scored and an RBI. He's hitting .365.
C Miguel Perez (.304) and OF Jonel Pacheco (.298) also had big nights. Perez finished the night 2-for-5 with 5 RBI. He hit a home run, a three-run double, and a sac fly. Pacheco added three doubles en route to going 3-for-6.
>Mike Crotta led Lynchburg to an 8-2 win. The 23 year old RHP threw 6-2/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and striking out four in his longest start of the season. Crotta is now 5-4 with a 4.84 ERA.
>Brad Lincoln and Hickory lost 2-1. He went 5, giving up both runs, as his record dropped to 3-2. The Crawdads have lost four in a row, and 7 straight on the road.
On the draft front: Pittsburgh picked off some of the low hanging fruit and inked three selections this morning. 11th-rounder OF Dave Rubinstein of Appalachian State, 35th round pick LHP Tyler Cox of Illinois State, and 36th round draftee OF Kyle Morgan from the U of San Francisco all agreed to deals.
Rubinstein, a junior, hit .332 with 9 home runs and 48 RBIs as a junior and was an All-America. Senior Cox was 4-4 with a 4.55 ERA in nine starts, and Morgan, another senior, batted .298 with 6 home runs and 50 RBIs.