Yovani Gilardo did it all today. He went eight innings, yielding two hits and striking out eleven. And to add an ocean full of salt to the wound, his solo homer in the seventh, his second, was the only run of the game. Why you would throw a change-up to a pitcher is another question, but give Gilardo credit; he did what all the other Brewers do with a Pittsburgh mistake.
Ian Snell did his part. He gave up just the one run on five hits, going seven innings, striking out five and walking four. And again, we have to wonder if JR is over-protecting his pen. Snell ended up throwing 131 pitches, with John Grabow, Tyler Yates, and Matt Capps fresh in the bullpen and an off day tomorrow.
He kept Paul Maholm in an inning too long last night, and we have to believe that his confidence in the brige part of reliever corps is so fragile that Russell won't go to them in a winnable game, crossing his fingers that the starter will dodge raindrops until the seventh or eighth frame so his back-enders can take over.
Danged if you do, danged if you don't, we suppose. Still, when your starters give you five or six good innings, you shouldn't hang them out to dry by giving them one more distant bridge to cross.
The Pirates are off tomorrow, and take the field Friday for a three-set match against the Reds and another pair against Milwaukee. Maybe they should bring Pedro Cerrano to the clubhouse to offer the voo-doo gods a chicken before the Brew Crew rematch.
The Pirates - Reds matchups are Zach Duke LHP (3-1, 2.43) against RHP Bronson Arroyo (3-1, 6.48), Ross Ohlendorf (2-2, 3.24) versus RHP Micah Owings (1-2, 3.78), and Jeff Karstens (1-0, 5.40) will finish against RHP Johnny Cueto (1-1, 2.19).
-- Chico Harlan of the Washington Post writes that the new Nat closers will be ex-Pirates Julian Taveras and Kip Wells. Are things that bad in the Capital or does Manny Acta know something the rest of the MLB missed?
-- Hey, we all enjoy the hot stove league and speculating on who's out there that could turn the local sad sacks into contenders. But we often forget - although Pittsburgh, of all places, should appreciate - the crap shoot nature of free agent signings.
Tim Dierkes of Major League Trade Rumors put together a list of guys that are early flops after pocketing some big bucks this off-season, led by the Evil Empire's big three:
•Mark Teixeira, Yankees: .206/.363/.381 in 80 plate appearances. This contract runs through 2016, so it's barely begun.It's only a month into the season, and all these guys may, and probably will, end up closer to their MLB norm than their current slow starts show. Still, it's kinda reassuring in a "misery loves company" way to know that Derrick Bell, Pat Meares, and that crew aren't unique to Three Rivers.
•C.C. Sabathia, Yankees: 4.73 ERA in 32.3 innings. So far we haven't seen the expected walk and strikeout rates. This one runs through 2015.
•A.J. Burnett, Yankees: 5.47 ERA in 24.6 innings. Home runs and walks have been the problem so far. He's signed through 2013.
-- Speaking of Operation Shutdown, Bell couldn't even get anyone to meet his price when he tried to auction his Blue Jay World Series ring on E-Bay. No crocodile tears are being shed by GW for Mr. Bell, who has no one to blame for his woes but himself and a spoon, but it's still sad to see a guy that had it all swirling around the drain.
-- LHP Patrick Shuster of Port Mitchell HS in Florida had his streak of four consecutive no-hitters brought to a screeching halt by Gaithers High in the Sunshine State playoffs. His no-no stretch ended after 28-1/3 innings, and he took a 9-4 loss. He finished 8-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 25 appearances this season, giving up just 12 hits in 60 innings with 115 strikeouts. A senior, the 18 year-old will attend Florida in 2010.
Schuster would have become the fourth high school pitcher to throw five consecutive no-hitters. Two players have thrown six in a row. Chris Taranto of Notre Dame High School in Biloxi, Miss., did it in 1961, while Tom Engle did it in 1989 in Lancaster, Ohio.
Taranto was taken by the Houston Colt .45s and Engle was drafted by the New York Mets. Arm problems ended both their careers. Let's hope this kid doesn't end up with a burned-out arm, too, always a possibility when you're too good too young.