Talk about going down without a fight. Tonight Roy Oswalt faced the minimum 27 batters in shutting out the Bucs 6-0. He yielded three singles, all erased on DP's.
He ran his scoreless streak to 32-1/3 innings, and at one point mowed down 20 straight Bucs on the way to his 15th win. Including the three hits, the Pirates hit just seven balls out of the infield all night.
Zach Duke was again undone by a big inning, giving up five runs in the fifth frame, thanks greatly to a double play ball that was fired into the outfield by 3B Doug Mientkiewicz. The first run, scored in the third, was set up by a bunt that Duke threw into right field.
Losing is one thing; embarrassment is another. And the Pirates look like they're slinking red-faced towards an August-September collapse that even by Pittsburgh standards is stunning.
You'd hope that with five July starters out of the lineup, three by trade and a pair by injury, that someone would grab the bull by the horns and try to get a jump on the spring auditions for starting roles. The same holds true for a wide-open 2009 pitching rotation.
But it looks at this point like the Pirates are going into next season with more questions than answers.
> The Pirates seem serious about sticking to a 6-man rotation to finish the year so that the innings can be kept down for Paul Maholm and the Zachster. They'd both make an extra start if the Bucs went back to a five-man staff.
If Gorzo is toast for the rest of year, Jason Davis and possibly T.J. Beam could make a spot start. The Pirates also haven't ruled out bringing up someone else from the minors, like Jimmy Barthmaier, who wasn't with those called up in September.
> Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reports that 22-year old RHP Junichi Tazawa has decided to forego Japanese baseball and sign with an MLB team. The Braves, Tigers, Red Sox, Pirates, Mets, and Yankees are thought to be in on him. He features a 93 MPH heater.
Where do you think Pittsburgh ranks on that list of rivals for his baseball affections? Still, they deserve props for getting in the game.
> Pedro's round #2 is scheduled for Madison Square...er, New York City on September 23-24.