-- Ya gotta score to win, but the Bucs didn't put up a run until Adam LaRoche homered in the ninth, and Houston won 4-1 in front of 20,690 fans who couldn't get tickets to the Penguin game. Actually, it was "Buck Night," and the promotion seemed to work out pretty well, except for the final results.
Pittsburgh's best shot to make a game of it came in the sixth when with runners on first and second, Ryan Doumit sent a two-out liner to the left field corner. Carlos Lee made the grab at the wall to end the inning and for all intents and purposes, the game. Lee killed the Pirates with more than his glove; he had 3 RBI tonight, too.
The Big O couldn't match Mike Hampton, who went six innings giving up four hits, walking one, and striking out eight with an assortmant of junk. Ohlendorf lasted five frames, and was touched up for eight hits - four doubles - and four runs.
Jesse Chavez, Craig Hansen, and Sean Burnett shut down the Astros for the final three frames, but the Buc bats didn't have an answer. They got nine hits, but eight were singles and except for the sixth inning, Pittsburgh never threatened.
The Bucs have lost four games; three of them were by 2-0, 2-1, and 4-1 scores. Pirate pitching has given up four runs or less in seven of the eight games played, but Pittsburgh is only 4-4. The arms have held up; now it's time for the bats to make some noise.
Tomorrow's Businessman's Special will mark the 2009 debut of Jeff Karstens. The Astros will counter with Russ Ortiz.
-- Delwyn Young will report to the Pirates Friday, and that's when they'll have to pare someone off the 25-man roster.
-- Of all the ballplayers that hit 100+ home runs since the 50's, who do you think hit the most opposite field blasts? If you guessed Roberto Clemente, you win.
Jeremy Greenhouse of The Baseball Analysts pulled the figures, and The Great One hit 54% of his 175 taters over the right field wall. I was around during that era, and I can guarantee you that his HRs weren't oversized pop-ups that plopped inside the 300' right field line. Clemente's balls were screamers, and usually cleared the wall near right center (375')...and in a hurry, too.
-- Xavier Nady left yesterday's Yankee game in the seventh inning after experiencing sharp pain in his elbow after a throw, a real concern as he had Tommy John surgery in 2001 on the 'bow. He'll undergo a MRI exam today to determine the extent of the injury; the Evil Empire is making noises like it could be a bad one. We wish the X-Man the best; pity it had to happen in his walk year.
-- In the Central, the Cards announced that RHP Chris Carpenter "will be out for a while" after exiting his second start early with a strained ribcage. You might recall his first start - it was a one-hitter against our hometown heroes. St. Louis is waiting on Thursday MRI results to determine how long he's going to be gone.
-- Hey, the Buc suits aren't the only tough-love bossmen around. Ala Gorzo, the Nats sent Lastings Milledge down to AAA. Apparently, bad juju coupled with bad performances both at bat and in the field made it an easy decision for Washington. He shouldn't have been playing ahead of Elijah Dukes anyway. Still, kinda interesting that one bad boy takes over for another.