That sucking noise you heard this afternoon was the sound of the Pirate's season being flushed down the drain. Well, at least the Rockies are back in the race.
On the Pirate front: The Pirates are expected to bring up RHP John Van Benschoten from Indy to fill the vacant starting spot Monday against Houston. They really don't have many options at this point, and the big question is who is gonna take Yoslan Herrera's place? At least we assume a 19.50 ERA will get him sent back to the minors, though with Pittsburgh's wealth of arms...
Apparently not Gorzo, Bryan Bullington's gone, Ty Taubenheim is on the DL and Jimmy Barthmeier was creamed in his last two starts. Indy doesn't have any rotation left to send to the big club. Brad Lincoln even got clocked in his high A debut.
The starters have a collective ERA of 5.77, worst in MLB (the staff ERA is 5.24, still the highest in baseball), and the call-ups have an ERA approaching nine. Yikes! There aren't enough arms left to go to the four man rotation of bygone days.
> The suits, we hear, fear fan backlash if they begin to move popular players. Through 50 games at PNC Park, the Pirates have drawn 968,441 fans, the second-lowest total in MLB - and not many teams have had 50 home dates yet. They're on pace to draw 1.57 million, down from last year's 1.74 million. Seems to us that they don't have that many fans left to lose.
It appears that PNC wasn't the savior that it was predicted to be. Fireworks and bobbleheads can't compete with a real live team on the field. We can only hope that the lease the Pirates signed when they moved in is ironclad.
> Today's question: If Jim Tracy, Dave Littlefield, and Kevin McClatchy were still here, how far back on the bench would Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit be? Then try to imagine Pittsburgh's record with Ronny Paulino and Nyjer Morgan starting every day.
> Juan Marichal was in town to give the keynote for last night's Negro League All-Star Gala at the Heinz History Center. ESPN's Jay Harris was the event's host. You might remember him as a WPGH news anchor before he moved on to Bristol.
On the minor league front: Seven innings, no hits, no runs. That was the line for Lynchburg starter Tony Watson as the Hillcats blanked Potomac 2-0.
Watson struck out a season-high eight batters, and walked two in the longest outing of the young lefty’s career. He now carries a 6-9 record, with a 3.40 ERA.
> Hickory blew a 6 run lead and was pounded 12-7. C Ronald Pena (.263) had a double and triple while red-hot 3B Matt Hague (.368) added two hits.
> At State College, DH Cole White (.369) extended his NYPL-leading hitting streak to 15 with a leadoff single in the first and scored twice. Matt Payne (.299) extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 22.
> SS Jarek Cunningham (.414) had two more hits, including his third homer, for Bradenton. 1B Alex Vargas (.300) from the Dominican had two hits, one a double, but the GCL Bucs went down 2-1.