Monday, August 18, 2008

A Day At A Time

Hey, the Bucs finally took advantage of another strong pitching performance against the Mets this afternoon, scoring five times in the last three innings to pull out a 5-2 win on getaway day.

Led by Adam LaRoche's 16th home run and Jack Splat's two-run double, the Pirate attack, stymied by John Maine over the front five, jumped all over the Met bullpen. A little plate patience paid off. Maine threw 96 pitches and got the early hook, leaving the NY relievers exposed without Billy Wagner.

Paul Maholm gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings, walking three and K'ing four in another stellar start. He's pitched a minimum of six innings for the 19th straight outing, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher since Doug Drabek in 1992.

He handed the game over to the Buc pen, and they made it exciting over the last two innings. John Grabow, who got his fourth save, and Tyler Yates teamed up to walk four batters in 1-2/3 innings, but they kept the scoreboard clean.

Sean Burnett got the win when he retired the only hitter he faced, Carlos Delgado, on a bases loaded, two-out pop up in the eighth. It was his first W in a Pirate uniform since he was a rookie in 2004.

Met manager Jerry Manuel got bounced by Joe West for arguing over one of the odder DP's turned by the Bucs. Argenis Reyes bounced into what was shaping up to be a routine Freddie Sanchez to Jack Wilson to Adam LaRoche DP, but Jack Splat hurried his throw and it bounded off of the first base railing.

Ryan Doumit backed up the play, ran down the ball, and tagged Reyes, who had made a small turn towards second. West rang him up, much to Manuel's dismay. That's a call you don't see much in MLB - and Manuel probably hopes to never see it again. It was scored 4-6-2.

The four-game series drew 129,473 fans, a PNC Park record. We're glad they took one, even if it was in front of the smallest crowd of the week.

And do you think the Pirates have had it bad since getting rid of Jay Bay and the X-Man? How about the Oakland A's, who dumped their pitching and have since lost 10 straight series, falling to a big league-worst 5-23 since the All-Star break.

On the Pirate front:
Doug Mientkiewicz has temporarily left the team to be with his wife, Jodi, who had heart surgery at AGH today. Mientkiewicz is on the bereavement list now, and will be out until at least Friday.

He's expected to stay with his wife for as long as he's needed. We wish Jodi a quick and complete recovery.

Nyjer Morgan, who has been tearing it up at Indy during the past month both at the plate and on the basepaths, was called up to take the roster spot of Dirt Dog Doug.

> Brandon Moss' ankle sprain shouldn't land him on the DL. He'll be kept out of action for the St. Louis series, which begins on Tuesday. However, the Pirates are targeting their weekend series in Milwaukee as a hopeful return date for Moss.

> Manager John Russell said closer Matt Capps is close to from returning to the Pirates. The 24-year-old has been on the DL since July 2nd with bursitis in his right shoulder, and was here today to get it checked out by the team docs.

Capps will join Altoona again on Tuesday and pitch an inning in the Curve's game Wednesday. He'll follow by throwing a side session on Thursday to simulate back-to-back performances. If his wing holds up, Capps may join the Pirates in Milwaukee on Saturday.

It's been a pretty quick recovery for the Buc closer. He's already thrown in five rehab games, two with Bradenton, two with Altoona, and one at Indy. His arm is hopefully as solid as his frequent flier account.

> Phil Dumatrait was also in town today and will stay with the team for the remainder of the season. The lefty will continue his rehab work with the Pirates.

He had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder on August 8th, and went home to California for nine days of down time before coming back to Pittsburgh. Doumatrait's recovery should be complete by spring training.

On the hot stove front: SI's Jon Heyman confirms that "Ian Snell was available before the trade deadline. The Pirates wanted pitching prospect Franklin Morales and then some from the Rockies. Snell is on an affordable long-term contract, so maybe talks will be revisited in December."

On the minor league front: Indy won in the bottom of the ninth, 9-8. RHP Jesse Chavez (2-4, 3.70 ERA) gave up a two-out triple in the ninth that tied the game, and managed the rare blown save/win daily double. JVB pitched 2 innings, and gave up a hit with two walks and a strikeout.

RF Joey Bats ran amok again, going 3-4 with a walk, double, homer, two runs and 3 RBI. Oh, he threw a guy out at second, too.

2B Brian Bixler (.285) had two hits and 2 RBI. SS Luis Cruz (.338) went 2-4 with a double, RBI, and two runs scored. LF Matt Kata (.245) had two hits and a walk.

> Hickory finally got some pitching and took a 3-2 victory home tonight. RHP Rafael De Los Santos (3-9, 6.00 ERA) went 5 innings, giving up two hits and two runs while walking three and striking out 4. LHP Wanell Macia (6.28) and RHP Harrison Bishop (3.29) finished up the last four innings without yielding a run, and giving up just one hit.

The hitting hero was C Ronald Pena (.253), who went 3-4 with a double and a run.

> Bradenton got spanked this afternoon 8-2. 2B Adenson Choura (.337) went 3-4 with a double and scored. 3B Jarek Cunningham (.318) had two hits, a walk, an RBI and scored.

Altoona, Lynchburg, and State College were off today.

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