Hey, we expected Jeff Karstens to be rusty; the guy hasn't pitched in 16 days. And he was - Karstens lasted four innings, throwing 87 pitches and giving up three runs on four hits and five walks. But for him and Sean Burnett, it was all about getting the third out.
JK got the hook after the fourth inning, when he gave a two-out triple to Jeff Keppinger and then an RBI single to opposing moundsman Russ Ortiz. But Burnett's day was much worse.
Burny zipped through the first two batters in the sixth frame, and then Michael Bourne legged out a dink double. He got ahead of Miguel Tejada 1-2, but eventually lost him on balls.
Lance Berkman also got into a quick 1-2 hole, and Burnett tried to bounce a slider to Elvis. Except it didn't come up short; it caught the dish and in one big uppercut swing, the horsehide left the yard and a 3-3 game turned into a 6-3 Astro lead. That's how it would finish.
Nyjer Morgan (.400) continues to be en fuego. He singled, doubled, and tripled, scoring once and driving home a run. Adam LaRoche had two more hits, both doubles, and he's batting .294 in mid-April, quite a turnaround from his previous opening weeks.
But for all their ten hits and three walks, the Bucs could only scratch together three runs, and none after the second inning. It's feast or famine right now for the Pittsburgh hitters.
But hey, the Bucs are 4-5, the same record as Tampa Bay has cobbled together so far. And this is a transitional season, as will be next year. It's time to evaluate and see what the future holds.
It should be a sterling matchup tomorrow when Paul Maholm takes on Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens. The Pirates are home for six more games, three against the Braves and another trio against the Marlins. It doesn't get easier...
-- Delwyn Young should join the team tomorrow. His elbow is supposed to be 100%, and he's ready to go. The Pirates plan to work him at second and third base, as well as the corner outfield. Given that, Luis Cruz appears to be on his way back to Indy when Young arrives, where he'll join Andy Phillips and Brian Bixler, who both look to be bumped out of a quick call-up possibility with Young's addition.
Young looks like a man without a position now, but both Pittsburgh and LA were high on him. The Pirates didn't get him to be a utility guy; they're gonna try to coach him up to the point that he gets regular at-bats and competes for a starting job somewhere on the diamond.
Remember, he became the odd man out for the Dodgers only after bumping heads with Manny, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp, all pretty fair ballplayers. The Pirates need more low-risk, high upside guys in the organization, regardless of position.
-- Xavier Nady was put on the DL today; they still don't know if his elbow will need the knife or not. Chris Carpenter will be out from 4-8 weeks for the Cards.