Down 3-2 despite having 12 hits, the Buc bats finally gave up the funk. Jay Bay crushed one to tie it, Adam LaRouche went yard to give Pittsburgh a two run lead, and Freddie Sanchez got a Minute Maid bounce and scampered home with a three run, inside-the-park homer to make it a 9-3 laugher.
The key to the game? Without doubt it was John Grabow's great relief job in the sixth inning. He came on with the bases juiced, thanks to Sean Burnett's wild thing. All Grabow did was K Lance Berkman and get Carlos Lee to pop to right, keeping the game together and giving the Pirates time to rally.
JVB did an OK job, giving up 2 earned runs in 5 innings and probably living to fight another day. Burnett couldn't find home, but the A team of Grabow, Tyler Yates - he got the win - and Denny Bautista iced the Astros the rest of the way.
On the Pirate front: Tonight's starters are scheduled to be John Van Benschoten (1-2, 9.77 ERA) vs Runelvys Hernandez (0-3, 10.29 ERA). When's the last time you saw two guys with an ERA of 10 going against one another in mid-July?
The Pirates will announce their roster move to make room for JVB today. It seems like they'll send down Marino Salas, but Yoslan Herrera could go, too.
> BTW, if you're curious, like we were, about how many times you can send a guy up and down, here's Wikipedia's explanation of the option system:
If a player is on the 40-man roster but not on the active major league roster, he is said to be on optional assignment—his organization may freely move him between the major league club and the minor league club. If a player is on the 40-man roster and not the active 25 man roster for any part of more than three seasons, he is out of options and may not be assigned to the minors without first clearing waivers. However, if a player has less than 5 years of professional experience, he may be optioned to the minors in a fourth season without being subject to waivers. If a major league player is ineligible for free agency and "has options" remaining, his team may option him to a minor league team without consequence.
> Wonder why Doug Mientkiewicz was back at the hot corner yesterday? Jose Bautista is batting .208 (10-for-48) in July with one extra-base hit.
On the hot stove front: Ed Price of the Newark Star-Ledger says Hideki Matsui's uncertain status for the rest of the year prked the Yankee's interest in Jason Bay and Xavier Nady.
The Bronx Bombers also are kicking the tires of Damaso Marte and John Grabow.
Minor-league OF'ers Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata and pitchers such as Ian Kennedy are names that could be discussed. Melky Cabrera does not interest the Pirates.
> The Yankees, bless their mercenary little hearts, always drive up the price. There's quite a line for Pittsburgh players this year. The X-Man, Jay Bay, Damaso Marte, John Grabow (a lower cost Marte, in some eyes), Jack Splat...they're all available, if the price is right, for a change.
Our understanding is that Bay would require two A-list prospects and a lower level player, Nady and Marte two top prospects, and they're at least listening to Wilson and Grabow offers.
> And John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times chimed in:
Damaso Marte is drawing the most interest as Boston, Detroit, the Mets, the Yankees, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Tampa Bay have all made inquiries. Detroit, Philadelphia and St. Louis are said to have some interest in Grabow.
The Mets also have some interest in Bay and Boston is said to be “monitoring” him in the event designated hitter David Ortiz has problems coming back from his wrist injury.
The Dodgers still have interest in SS Jack Wilson. There has been speculation of an expanded deal in which the Pirates would ship Wilson and Bay to the Dodgers for a package topped by CF Matt Kemp along with prospects RHP James McDonald, C Lucas May and SS Chin-Lung Hu.
The Pirates have been scouting the Phils and the Rays AAA Durham farm club heavily in the last two weeks but don’t appear close to making a deal with either team.
Among the players the Pirates reportedly have interest in are Cardinals RHP Anthony Reyes and OF Chris Duncan, Tigers 1B Jeff Larish and OF Matt Joyce, Yankees RHP Ross Ohlendorf, Braves SS Brent Lillibridge (remember him?) and OF Brandon Jones, Rays RHP Jeff Niemann and a trio from the Mets’ Class AA Binghamton farm club — LHP Matt Niese, RHP Eddie Kunz and RHP Bobby Parnell.
On the minor league front: Indy romped, 11-2. Every position player had a hit and scored. Seven had multiple knocks, and four guys went yard. The bad news - Gorzo went three innings, and gave up both runs, yielding four hits, including a homer, and two walks. He K'ed three.
Mike Thompson, who may have a chance of pitching next week during the endless Buc audition period, got the win, going four scoreless innings and giving up two hits.
> At Lynchburg, C Kris Watts doubled and hit a two-run home run, his fourth in his last eight games, in a losing effort. He's hitting .301 for the Hillcats.
> In yet another losing effort, 1B Calvin Anderson (.253) had a pair of hits, including his 4th home run, and 4 RBI for State College.