Judging by the line score, the Dodgers 6-2 win tonight was a laugher. And the Pirates did play like zombies much of the evening. Pittsburgh only mustered five hits off Derek Lowe and seven all together, and at least four Dodger knocks were off Bucco gloves. It wasn't pretty.
But the game actually turned on a pair of dribblers that put together wouldn't have gathered enough steam to get past the pitcher's mound. One launched an inning that shouldn't have been, and the other killed an inning that should have been.
The Dodgers were up 1-0 in the second inning with runners at first and second and one away when Lowe laid down a bunt. Three guys had a chance to make the right play, and all three blew it.
First, Jeff Karstens stepped in front of Andy LaRoche and fired a one hopper to Freddie Sanchez, covering first base. Sanchez couldn't field the ball cleanly, and it dropped beside him. He recovered in time to beat the pitcher.
But first base ump Tim Timmons missed the pick-up, and called Lowe safe. Instead of second and third with two away, the bases were juiced with one out. A sac fly - which should have been out #3 - single and double later, it was 4-0.
Karstens short armed an easy throw, Sanchez couldn't field a one-hopper, and Timmons missed a call. It added up to three runs.
In the fourth, the Pirates made their only challenge of the night. Three straight hits had a run in and runners on the corner with nobody out. But instead of making it interesting, Brandon Moss topped a ball off the plate, and it dropped five feet in front of home.
Inexplicably, he never ran the ball out. Catcher Russell Martin had all the time in the world to look the runner back at third and then start a 2-6-3 DP. Goodbye, big inning, hello, fat lady.
Karstens had another ugly line - 11 hits and 2 walks in five innings, and looks more and more like the right-handed version of Zach Duke.
> Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reported that Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein has a source that says the union will claim that the Pirates and MLB engaged in a premeditated conspiracy, perhaps designed to take Scott Boras out of the picture by negotiating past midnight.
And you wonder why Pirate suits avoided Scott Boras clients so religiously? Our guess is that Boras may have just precipitated this whole midnight madness manuevering with exactly this scenario in mind. He then either gets the deal he wants or a juicy arbitration case. Running with the devil...
> Dale Sveum, one of the members of the Pirate's 1997 "Freak Show" that challenged for a division title until the final weeks of the season and one-time Altoona Curve manager, replaced Ned Yost as skipper at Milwaukee. He'll try to right the Brewer ship that was once a run-away leader for the wild card.
> Catch Michael's post at Hyzdu Headquarters, comparing Nate McLouth's 2008 season with Andy Van Slyke's 1988 year. You'll be surprised at the similarities.