Thursday, August 14, 2008

Skyblast Strike One

The Pirate bats failed again as Pittsburgh went down to the woeful Reds, 3-1, in front of a crowd of 35,439 REO Speedwagon fans at PNC Park.

Ian Snell lasted 6 ugly frames, but only yielded a pair of runs. He gave up 6 hits - five for extra bases - and walked 5, while striking out a pair. The leadoff hitter reached four times against him; the second hitter got on the other two innings.

But the game was there for the taking in the seventh when the Bucs loaded the bases with nobody out in a 2-1 game. But big bro LaRoche K'ed, lil' bro Andy hit into a DP, the boos rang out, and that was all she wrote, especially after TJ Beam gave up an insurance run in the ninth on a triple and suicide squeeze.

A curious play took place early in the 7th inning. With runners on 1st and 2nd and no one out, Nate McLouth, batting third, bunted for a base hit to juice the sacks.

That begs the question - should your three hitter and leading RBI guy be laying down a bunt, whether for a hit or sac, in that situation? This station-to-station attack isn't going to cut it for the lumber challenged brave new Bucs.

The Pirates left 10 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the first and seventh innings, and two on in the fourth and fifth frames. None of their eight hits were for extra bases.

It's a painful learning curve that Pittsburgh is now on.

On the minor league front: Indy was off today, but CF Andrew McCutchen, 3B Neil Walker and RHP Jimmy Barthmaier have been named among the International League's best in the upcoming August 25 edition of Baseball America.

The three Indians were listed in BA's annual "Best Tools" issue. McCutchen was named the "Most Exciting Player," Walker the "Best Defensive Third Baseman," and Barthmaier as having the "Best Breaking Ball" in the IL.

The hottest Indy stick, though, belongs to OF Nyjer Morgan, who has 20 hits in his last 45 at-bats and is hitting .330 since the All-Star break.

> Altoona was whipped 11-3 today. DH Melvin Dorta (.287) and C Milver Reyes (.167) each had a pair of hits. Matt Capps pitched a scoreless inning, K'ing 2. He'll move up a level now in his rehab, and report to Indy.

> Lynchburg lost 9-3 in 10 innings. The Hillcats had only five hits, led by C Chris Jones (.227), who was 2-3, including his 2nd HR.

> Hickory launched a 16 hit attack against Greensboro to win 12-3. The barrage was led by SS Silvio Pena (.280), who went 4-5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI. RF Keanon Simon (.221), who's been on a tear this week, had 2 hits, RBI's, and runs while hitting his 2nd HR.

CF Austin McClune (.205) went deep for the third time, and had 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. 1B Tom Hagan (.266) also homered, his fourth, and collected two knocks, an RBI and 2 tallies. DH Joe Munoz (.233) added two hits and an RBI and score.

> State College was thumped again, 13-4. CF Ciro Rosero (.265) had 3 hits while LF Matt Payne (.275), 3B Chase d'Arnaud (.313), and 1B Jeremy Farrell (.292) each had a pair. The team committed three errors and fanned 11 times.

The Spikes have 11 wins all season. It's hard to imagine what any of the young Bucs there can take out of the year as a positive learning experience to carry into next season.

> Bradenton was off today. Recently signed Pirate draft picks LHP Justin Wilson and OF Robbie Grossman will report to the GCL team to finish up the season and then likely get some work in the instructional league.

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