Sunday, April 19, 2009

Put The Brooms Away

-- Hey, the rough three-run first inning was the kind that a guy like Zach Duke, who pitches to contact, will have sometimes. A ball off a glove, a broken bat hit, a parachute into left, one ball spanked up the middle, and the Braces were up 3-0.

He didn't really get killed in the sixth, either, though he had the same bad results. A fielders choice on a bad decision and worse throw to second, a bunt single, and a home run that dropped gently into the first row of seats. Ah well, momma said there'd be days like this.

One thing that can be said for the Zachster, though, is that his command was way off. He was pitching from behind in the count to virtually every hitter, and it showed. GW thought that letting him throw 119 pitches last outing was OK; now he's not so sure.

Craig Hansen and Donnie Veal came in to sprinkle a little gas on the fire. Hansen gave up a three-run homer to David Ross, and Veal gave up a run in his two innings of work while walking four. He threw 16 strikes out of 40 pitches.

Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez had a pair of knocks. Javier Vazquez kept pumping in strikes when given the big early lead, and struck out eight in six innings. Hey, if you're gonna lose, get it all out of your system, right?

When the smoke cleared, the final was 11-1. Funny, but when Chipper Jones is in the lineup, the Braves are 6-1; they're 0-5 when he's out.

-- The pitching match-ups for the Marlin series: Monday night: LH Andrew Miller, (0-0, 6.43) vs. RH Ross Ohlendorf, (0-2, 4.91); Tuesday night: RH Anibal Sanchez, (1-0, 1.64) vs. RH Jeff Karstens, (0-0, 6.75); Wednesday afternoon: RH Ricky Nolasco, (1-1, 6.60) vs. LH Paul Maholm, (2-0, 0.87).

-- How far is Donnie Veal from prime time? Well, yesterday John Russell used Jesse Chavez and Sean Burnett to finish off the 10-0 Pirate win. It would have been a perfect, no-pressure spot for Veal to get in some work, but with a shutout on the line, he sat.

Veal has one appearance so far this season; in an inning he has three K's, to go with three walks (he worked two innings today). It's feast or famine for the big lefty, and it looks like they're going to take their time with him and keep his early role purely as a mop-up man. Maybe last season's Evan Meek fiasco is still fresh in their minds. On the bright side, they have 151 more games to coach him up - or hide him.

-- Speaking of relievers, Evan Meek, Chris Bootcheck, and Juan Mateo have worked 19-2/3 innings for Indy, giving up just two runs, one earned, on seven hits with seven walks and 18 strike-outs. But with the way the Pirate pitching has been going, they may get to cool their heels in the minors a little longer than they expected.

-- Paul Lukas of ESPN's "Second Page" talks about the business of Pittsburgh baseball with Frank Coonelly and chief marketing dude Lou DePaoli. It's an interesting chat, covering the bases from Steeler comparisons, the overall economy, and all-you-can-eat days (did you know that college kids come to the game early to have chow-down contests?).

-- Hey, we were all law and order when the Nats slapped Elijah Dukes around a bit for being late to the ballpark. Well, guess what? According to the Associated Press:
On Saturday, Washington outfielder Elijah Dukes was benched, fined $500 and threatened with a demotion to the minor leagues after he showed up to the park a mere five minutes after the team's usual reporting time.

OK, so rules are rules, but sometimes there are exceptions that should be made and Dukes' excuse would seem to qualify him for one — he was doing charity work for the Nats at a local Little League.
GW agrees; sorry, Elijah.

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