Friday, July 4, 2008

Red, white and the Gorzo blues...

Gorzo got ripped again in the Pirates' 9-1 loss to Milwaukee in front of a sellout crowd of 41,463 at Miller Park. He didn't survive the fifth inning, allowing 11 hits, 4 walks - all in the 5th - and 8 runs.

Gorzo began the inning by walking pitcher Ben Sheets, a real problem with Bucco hurlers this year. They won't even go after opposing moundsmen.

Sheets, meanwhile, danced between the raindrops to earn the win. He stranded 8 runners in the first five innings, allowing 1 run and 8 hits before heading for the showers with two outs in the sixth after throwing 120 pitches.

Sheets became the sixth 10-game winner in the NL this season.

Brewer shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had four hits Thursday at Arizona, added four more today, including a home run.

And hey, have a great holiday weekend! Enjoy a of couple burgers, a beer or three, and the fireworks and it'll be just like Pittsburgh won the World Series.

On the Pirate front: Freddie Sanchez was on the pine again today, and he's not pouting about it.

"It's no secret that I've been struggling all year, and there comes a point where I feel like I'm doing everything I can, working as hard as I can, preparing as hard as I can, but I'm just not getting the job done," said the 2006 NL batting champion. "When you're not getting the job done, you can't be out there. That's what it boils down to."

Sanchez refused to blame his often-bothersome right shoulder for having any effect on his swing. But he did add that there were some mechanical flaws with his swing that he and hitting coach Don Long were using these extra days off to work through.

The silver lining is that Sanchez said his right shoulder is finally feeling close to normal again. It has been pain-free for two weeks.

> Who ya gonna call now that Matt Capps is on the DL? John Russell's looking at his horses to come to the rescue, Damaso Marte and Tyler Yates.

Marte has 32 career saves. Russell has used Marte against both right-handed and left-handed hitters this season, which would serve him well if he were to jump into the closers spot.

Yates has just three saves lifetime, but he does have the power arm that's the calling card of successful closers. But those walks...

He said Denny Bautista and Romulo Sanchez are both capable too, and may get a shot some nights at closing the deal. No mention of John Grabow, who will apparently remain in the set-up spot.

We'd keep Yates and Bautista there, too. Marte deserves the shot.

> Assuming that Phil Dumatrait comes back on the 7th and Ian Snell on the 8th as hoped, the Bucco merry-go-round of AAA starting pitchers should finally be at an end as the regular rotation gets back into sync.

> Pittsburgh's regular five-man rotation has gone eight innings or more just three times this season. Paul Maholm provided the honors all three times.

They've failed to get to the fifth inning 12 times. Ian Snell leads the pack there, being yanked way early 5 times.

On the hot stove front: From ESPN's Jason Stark's column - Pirate outfield chatter: some teams are calling on Nate McLouth, though the Bucs prefer to move Jason Bay or Xavier Nady. Despite earlier reports, the Bucs could consider trading both. The Rays are "especially interested" in Bay.

On the minor league front: Indy CF Andrew McCutchen has been named to the International League All-Star team. They'll play the Pacific League All-Stars July 16 in Louisville. ESPN2 will televise the game, beginning at 7:05 p.m.

> Altoona will be represented by pitchers Pat Bresnehan and Yoslan Herrera and infielders Jason Delaney and Shelby Ford in the Eastern League All-Star game July 16 in Manchester, N.H.

Speaking of Altoona, SS Luis Cruz went 3 for 3 with a home run and two RBI last night. He's hitting .274 for the Curve. RHP Yoslan Herrera gave up four hits and an unearned run in seven innings for the win, his fifth, with an ERA of 2.74.

> It sounds like a broken record, but RF Jamie Romak had two hits, one going yard, and 2 RBI last night for Lynchburg. He's batting .308 with 15 homers with 42 RBI in just 53 games.

On the ex-Pirate front: RHP Salomon Torres of the Brew Crew was 12 for 12 since taking over the closer's role before blowing saves against Arizona on Thursday and Friday. His 15 saves to date are a career high, and his record is now 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA.

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