The answer: Eight.
The question: How many Pirate pitchers does it take to beat the Reds?
Zach Duke, Denny Bautista, John Grabow, Tyler Yates, Damaso Marte, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps (the win), and Romulo "The Chief" Sanchez (the save.) That's how many it took.
In 11 innings of high drama and low comedy, the Bucs outpunched the Reds, 6-5. The secret? Sanchez left Junior on deck instead of letting him get to the plate with the game on the line tonight. It was a pretty good ballgame between a pair of not so good teams. 'Nuff said, we're looking forward to another good one tomorrow.
On the Pirate front: Oh no, not again. Zach Duke is in the eighth hole tonight, between 3B Jose Bautista and SS Jack Wilson. John Russell has found a shiny new toy to play with this week.
> Ron Cook of the Post Gazette rapped Pirate prez Frank Coonelly for saying his team is competitive and more folk should show up for the festivities at PNC. We don't have a problem with Coonelly's yada. He's doing his job, trying to drum up fan support and maybe posturing a bit for potential trade partners.
Even he has to know he's just engaged in some puffery, and that's how it should be. Do you expect him to say his team is a pack of pooches? Coonelly's more than aware that he needs product to throw in the bobblehead and fireworks mix if Pittsburgh wants to draw some warm butts to their ballpark.
In fact, Coonelly said in a web chat today that "If I had been intent on assessing blame for our disappointing attendance, I would have placed that blame squarely on the organization and not with our fans." That's right on.
> *blush* We screwed up our dates yesterday, as the Elias Sports Bureau was kind enough to point out. A Pirates pitcher hadn't batted anywhere other than ninth in the lineup since April 18, 1957, when Bobby Bragan batted Luis Arroyo eighth ahead of Bill Mazeroski in a game against Brooklyn at Ebbets Field. Mea culpa.
It should be mentioned that Bragan had no faith in Maz's stick and would pull him for a pinch hitter at the slightest provocation. Maz gave Danny Murtaugh, Bragan's successor, much love for showing confidence in him as a hitter.
On the hot stove front: According to Peter Gammons of ESPN, the Rays are focused on a right-handed hitter. Matt Murton and Xavier Nady are on the radar.
> From MLB Blogs: Some reports that have indicated the Braves are interested in obtaining Jason Bay or Xavier Nady in a trade with the Pirates. But one team official said on Sunday that the Pirates have shown no indication that either of these outfielders are currently on the market. If they were available, the Braves would seemingly be more interested in Nady.
It also notes that getting Nady back on the field now gives the Pirates a full month to showcase what has been a stellar offensive year from the RF, and should be enough time to convince prospective suitors that he is healthy enough to finish the season strong.
Nady is still expected to be the first outfielder shipped out of Pittsburgh because of his contract status (one more arbitration year) and agent (Scott Boras) as long as he can remain healthy enough to attract a good package of prospects
On the draft front: The Pirates have signed their 14th-round draft pick, RHP Mike Colla of the University of Arizona. He throws a fastball that edges into the low 90s, but his secondary stuff is iffy. Colla was 4-2 with a 4.79 ERA, starting 7 games and coming out of the pen for another dozen. He's a project.