Maybe it was because Dirt Dog Doug questioned his teammate's desire in this morning's Dejan Kovacevic piece. Maybe it was because Joe Torre stuck to the book instead of his eyes. But whatever it was, the Bucs should bottle it.
They brought down the thunder and rolled to a 15-8 vicory over the Dodgers tonight. It wasn't as easy as the score would indicate, with some sloppy fielding and another very pedestrian performance by the Zachster.
But the Bucs scored four times in the fifth inning and added eight more in the seventh frame, all with two outs and the bases empty. It was plenty enough to thwart LA, and proof positive of the old admonition to not be the third out.
Dodger ace Chad Billingsly was cruising along with a 4-2 lead, and struck out the first two Pirates he faced in the fifth. He'd finish the inning on the bench after giving up two hits, a walk, and Adam LaRoche's grand slam, a shot that hit the batter's eye backdrop in dead center.
By the seventh, it was 7-7, and Scott Proctor had mowed down five straight Pirates. But Torre went with the odds and brought in lefty Scott Elbert, their #1 draft pick in 2004, with Nate McLouth due up. He walked, and Ryan Doumit went yard.
And that was just the start. The Bucs pounded out 7 hits, the Dodgers added an error, and eight Pirates in all crossed the dish.
The Zambellis weren't in the house tonight, but the Pirates provided a Skyblast of their own for the faithful.
A couple of things became painfully obvious tonight. The Pirate attack will go as far as their first five hitters will take it, the pitching has miles to go, and Brian Bixler doesn't have much of a future in Pittsburgh.
Those have to be addressed for 2009. For tonight, just enjoy the show.
> The Pirates seem to be rethinking moving Adam LaRoche in the off season. He's under team control for one more arbitration year, and they plan to talk to him after the year on extending his contract. That's a good move, with no one else in the system ready to take over first base. The results of those talks will determine his future in Pittsburgh.
> The Pirates announced today that they've come to an agreement to affiliate with the Class-A West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League through the 2010 season. Charleston plays in Appalachian Power Park, which opened in 2005.
"We are very pleased to move to Charleston and re-establish Pirates roots with a great community," said Neil Huntington. "It is an opportunity for us to have another of our affiliates close to Pittsburgh and develop players in a beautiful facility."
The move from Hickory marks the return of Pirates baseball to Charleston. From 1971 through 1976, the Charleston Charlies were Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate in the International League. From 1978 to 1979, Charleston was Pittsburgh's Single-A entry in the Western Carolinas League.
You can go home again.
> The Pirates also announced their schedule for the 2009 season, which will start late because of the World Baseball Classic.
The Bucs are slated to begin the 2009 campaign on Monday, April 6 in St. Louis. Following a seven-game road trip to St. Louis and Cincinnati, Pittsburgh will return home for a nine-game homestand.
The PNC Park lid lifter is scheduled for Monday, April 13, against the Houston Astros. The Pirates will also face the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins during the first homestand
The Bucs will face all five members of the AL Central during interleague play, taking on the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers (June 12-14) and Kansas City Royals (June 26-28) at PNC. The Pirates will travel to Chicago to face the White Sox (May 22-24) and to Minnesota (June 16-18).
That three-game set against the White Sox will be followed a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Double your pleasure...