Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fish Out Of Water

Hey, we had a little role reversal going on today; Paul Maholm pitched like he was human and Adam LaRoche hit the ball like it was August. And it worked out fine, as the Bucs sent the Marlins back home with their flipper between their fins, 7-4.

Maholm was perfect for three, but gave up eight hits and four runs by the end of the sixth, striking out four and walking one. But the Buc bats picked him up, banging out ten hits, working Florida's pitchers for five walks, and stealing three more bases.

LaRoche the elder led the offensive surge, going 4-for-5 with three doubles, two runs scored and a RBI. He's hitting .304 now, a hundred or so points more than his usual April fling. His lil' bro Andy got in on the act, with two RBI today thanks to a double and a sac fly.

Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez scored three times from the top of the order, and Morgan had two of the stolen bases, with Fast Freddy the other. Their lead-off work has kept the Pirate attack at full throttle so far this year.

The Pirates are 9-6. Who woulda thunk it? They're off tomorrow, and on the way to San Diego for a three game set starting Friday, with Ian Snell going against RHP Kevin Correia.

-- In case you're wondering how Adam LaRoche's start compares to his usual April, here's the dope, from Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports:

2004 - .214/.254/.339, 1 HR in 56 AB
2005 - .206/.324/.365, 2 HR in 63 AB
2006 - .200/.294/.453, 4 HR in 75 AB
2007 - .133/.255/.265, 3 HR in 83 AB
2008 - .163/.247/.225, 1 HR in 80 AB
2009 - .304/.350/.589, 3 HR in 56 AB

With Doumit gone for the foreseeable future, a big stick from LaRoche is crucial to the Pirates efforts to keep on keepin' on. So far, so good.

-- Phil Dumatrait is still in extended spring training, and threw 76 pitches in five controlled innings. The Pirates plan to have Dumatrait make two more outings to get his pitch count into the 85-90 range.

If he gets through those games without any flare-ups, the Pirates blueprint is to send him to the minors for some rehab work. They'll decide on the team and number of starts after they determine his fitness level. They have the luxury so far of not needing to rush him along, and who woulda guessed that in March?

Jen Langosch of has the tale of his comeback trail.

-- Ryan Doumit will have his wrist surgery tomorrow, and is currently on the 15-day DL. There's not a lot of difference between the 60-day and 15-day DL; on the 15-day, a player has 20 rehab days in the minors versus 30 with the 60-day, and he doesn't come off of the 40-man roster if placed on the 15-day, just the 25-man one.

-- After today's game, the Pirates had the best runs against number in the NL, giving up just 3.4/game, nosing ahead of LA with 3.43 (Seattle's 3.36 is MLB's best). They're the only two squads in the senior circuit yielding under 4 runs per outing.

-- SS Brian Friday was hitting .500 at Altoona; now he's on the DL. Not to worry; he has an inner ear infection that needs some doctoring.

-- Ex-Bucco RHP Jon Lieber has retired. He compiled 131 wins, including 20 in '01. Lieber finishes his career with a 4.27 ERA in 2,198 innings of work for the Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, and Phillies.

-- Yah, we know it's only April 22, but you can vote already on-line for the All-Star teams starting today. The ballot is here. Vote early and often, as Davey Lawrence used to say.

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