The haluski, pierogie, and kielbasa were being piled high & dished out before the game, but once the fans settled in their seats, the Pirates served up the same old menu.
Five Buc pitchers gave up 11 runs on 15 hits and the Cards took the rubber match of the series, 11-6. For the three game set, St Louis scored 28 runs on 50 hits, hitting .394 against Pittsburgh. They belted out 10 doubles, 2 triples, 7 home runs, and drew 11 walks.
Something has to give. The Pirates give up 5.6 runs per game. Only Texas gets scored on more. They yield the most hits, 10.4/game, and are in a pack tied for last in walks given up at 4.1. The league norm is a run, hit, and walk less. We wonder what their record would be with 95 less runs to contend with?
The Pirates reached the All-Star break with a 44-50 record, 12-1/2 games out. Last year at the break, they were 40-48, 9 games back. That's a two game improvement.
Most readers know how the GW feels about batting pitchers eighth. In a one run, extra inning loss last night, starting Card hurler Todd Wellemeyer, batting eighth, left six runners on base while going 0-for-3.
Do you think St. Louis would rather have the pitcher or the eight man hitting with the bases loaded and no one out, like in the second when they failed to score? Serves LaRussa right.
The Pirates are 10-3 in extra innings, with eight consecutive victories, a streak that began when they rallied to win 8-4 at St. Louis in 10 innings on May 13.
This isn't the first time Jason Michaels ruined LaRussa's day this year - he hit a grand slam in St. Louis to cap a comeback from a 4-0 deficit when the Pirates won 5-4 on June 2.
Raul Chavez, who scored the tying run, and Michaels made the tenth inning lineup because of Adam LaRoche's bruised thumb. He had to leave in the ninth.
With Doug Mientkiewicz ejected and Chris Gomez already used as a pinch hitter, John Russell pulled a double switch, yanking Xavier Nady (why is beyond us), putting Michaels in right and Ryan Doumit at first. Russell was certainly destiny's child last night.
And how ironic was it that on the anniversary of Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon's combined no-hitter against the Astros, a 12-11 game broke out? It looks like July 12 in Pittsburgh is a fireworks night whether the Zambelli's are in the house or not.
On the hot stove front: The NY Time's Ben Shpigel says that with Moises Alou out, the Mets will look at Xavier Nady, who can play both corner spots as well as first base.
His running mate, Jason Bay, is equally alluring but would come at a higher price. But the minors are pretty barren in NY, and they may look for a rent-a-player on the cheap.
Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette says the other hot Nady suitor is the Tampa Bay Rays, who are loaded with prospects. The Atlanta Braves have tested the water but are in a holding pattern right now.
Also, as many as a dozen teams now have inquired about Damaso Marte, and he might be the most-sought left-handed reliever in a market hungry for that commodity.
The others being shopped are the Rockies' Brian Fuentes and KC's Ron Mahay. The Cardinals are hot after Marte, as are the Yankees, Mets, Rays and Boston Red Sox.
He adds that rumors linking Nady and Bay to the Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals were denied by all. Teams continue to ask about Bay, but the Pirates' party line is that they'll listen, but would rather hold on to him. In other words, they need wowed to ship Bay away this year.
On the minor league front: LHP Tom Gorzelanny, who was making his first start for the Indians since being optioned from Pittsburgh on July 8, was pinned with a 1-0 rain shortened loss last night. He went 3 innings, giving up 4 hits and a run, with 3 K's and a walk.
> Nyjer Morgan kept his hitting streak alive at 15 games with a single.
> IF Jim Negrych (.321) went 2 for 2 with a home run, two RBI, three runs scored and three walks and C Kris Watts (.280) went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI in Lynchburg's loss last night.
> DK's chat focused on OF Jamie Romak, who's mashing but seemingly stuck at Lynchburg. Kovacevic says he hears that Romak needs to be more aggressive. He takes a lot of pitches, but that's not necessarily good, as his K and walk stats will attest.
Aside from being a little less selective at the dish, Romak needs a better two-strike approach, and his D needs to improve.
Still, it seems to us that going against better pitching would force him to address those issues. But OF is Pittsburgh's strongest organizational position, so the suits don't have to rush him through any level they don't believe he's ready for.
Romak's hitting .303 with 17 HR's and 49 RBI. He's K'd 79 times and walked 29 times in 231 at-bats.
> At Hickory, RHP Brad Lincoln pitched his best game of the season as he went a career high 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, scattering 4 hits while striking out 7.
He's been getting smacked around a bit lately, and it's a good sign to see his arm bouncing back. Lincoln is 5-5 with a 4.65 ERA in 11 starts. He's struck out 46 and walked 6 in 62 innings.
> 3B Matt Hague went 2 for 4 with a double, home run and RBI for the Crawdads. He's hitting .375 and pushing steady Bobby Spain, who's hitting .312, out of the hot corner job. Hague may win the nod on muscle alone - they've both hit 5 homers, but Hague's batted just 56 times, while Spain has 250 at-bats.