Now that's the way we've come to expect the Bucs to win ball games. Abysmal starting pitching, an early call to the bullpen that keeps everything in line, and just enough maple in the bats to pull out an 8-7 win.
Ian Snell gave the Pirates three not-very-strong innings, facing 18 batters and throwing 85 pitches while giving up a six-pack of hits and 5 runs. He struck out five and walked three, two of whom scored. Only a blind optimist would say he took so much as a baby step towards respectability today.
Five Pirate relievers picked up the slack, allowing two runs over the final six innings. Frankie Osario got the win, his fourth, after two scoreless frames and Damaso Marte notched his fifth save.
To provide a bit of high drama to the finish, Marte walked Ty Wiggington with two outs in the ninth to get to Miguel Tejada. He struck him out, ho-hum.
We hope the relief corp is getting its beauty rest. With Yoslan Herrera, the Zachster, and JVB on tap for the next three games, we suspect they'll need it.
The Pirates only hit one long ball in the win today, Jay Bay's 21st. He has 138 homers for the Pirates, tied with Billy Maz for 8th in team history, and is the 4th Buc to have 4 consecutive 20+ HR seasons. The others are Pops, Ralph Kiner, and Frank Thomas.
As a team, the Pirates slapped out 14 knocks, including three doubles. They spread the glory around, with six different guys driving in runs and six Bucs scoring runs.
Doug Mientkiewicz started at third and went 4-4 with a walk. Joey Bats struck out as a pinch-hitter with runners on second and third. The suits might want to speed up those talks with Pedro and Boras.
On the Pirate front: The Pirates will look for their first series sweep since taking three from the Giants in May, and their first road sweep of the season. In fact, they'll be trying for their first three-game winning streak since taking six in a row in early May.
> The Pirates must channel the Lumber Company when they play at Minute Maid Park. They've unloaded a dozen homers in the past four games and 23 in the past 10 games there.
> Xavier Nady hasn't allowed trade talk and fatherhood distract him. He doubled last night to run his hitting streak to 11 games.
> How's Jack Splat taken to the nine hole in the batting order? In 18 games batting ninth, he has a .234 average. His hitting nosedived while he was sweating out the Detroit rumors during the 2007 deadline period, too. He only hit .219 last July, so maybe he's just not comfortable being on the meat market.
On the hot stove front: John Heyman of SI says the word is that the asking price for OF'er Xavier Nady has "loosened" a tad, and that Pittsburgh seems more interested than before in trading him.
The Pirates were said a couple weeks ago to be seeking "two top prospects" for Nady, who's having a big year, but that seems to have come down a tad. The Pirates have to clear a spot for Andrew McCutchen and seem likely to keep Bay, so they're looking at a Nady deal as an opportunity to add some quality depth to the organization.
The Rays, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Cardinals are among the teams to have inquired about X. The Rays need a right-handed hitting OF'er and have the chips to deal. The loss of Hideki Matsui means the Yankees need an OF bat, too, and like the Mets and Rays, they would also prefer a RH hitter.
We hope the price hasn't come down too far. Seems like there's plenty enough teams interested to draw a pretty nice return for Nady. And we discount the whining over asking price - the rest of the league must think Dave Littlefield is still dumping salary and holding his annual fire sale. It's time to disabuse them of that notion.
On the minor league front: RHP Jason Davis (6-9, 4.41 ERA) scattered 7 hits and two runs over 8 innings to earn a win for Indy last night. Brian Bixler (.277) had two hits to pace the attack.
They faced old teammate Brad "Big Country" Eldred, who's playing for Charlotte in the White Sox organization. He's batting .266, with 26 HR's and 72 RBI. He also has 84 K's in 284 at bats, but still looks like a legit prospect, especially as a DH.
> Lynchburg broke out the lumber, bombing the Wilmington Blue Rocks 11-3. OF Jamie Romak (.292) set a career-high with 3 doubles and tied a career-high with 4 hits while driving in 3 runs. 3B Jim Negrych (.368) and DH Kent Sakamoto (.264) had 3 hits apiece.
> At Bradenton, the GCL Bucs won 2-0 as three pitchers combined for the shutout. C Jesus Aguilera (.259) went 2 for 4 to lead the offense.