Saturday, April 25, 2009


After nearly four hours of baseball (GW feared that his local watering hole was gonna close before the game ended!), the question is still unanswered: Who had the toughest night? Was it Matt Capps, Jack Splat, or FSN?

Capps came on in the eleventh inning, and walked pop-gun hitters Chris Burke and David Eckstein. And he paid when Brian Giles lined a two strike, two-out rope into right to win the game, 4-3.

Wilson went 0-5 at the dish, batting second in a juggled lineup that was without Nate McLouth, who "tweaked" an oblique. Let's hope that's all it is; Pittsburgh can hardly stand another hit to its lineup with Ryan Doumit already out.

San Diego intentionally walked Nyjer Morgan with two outs to load the bases and get the chance to pitch to Wilson. He made Bud Black look like an Einstein by striking out, flailing at a pair of pitches in the dirt and a foot outside.

Called on to bunt in the ninth, he popped out with Morgan on first. Morgan was then promptly picked off trying to steal the base Wilson was supposed to sacrifice him to. To make matters worse, he let a double play ball bounce of his chest in the home half of the frame, though it didn't cost the Bucs.

And FSN? After losing the second period of the Penguin playoff game yesterday, it lost the bottom of the ninth and the entire tenth inning last night (OK, today to you purists). Oddly, the commercials aired just fine; we only missed the game.

Still, the Bucs can't complain too much. They scored twice when the Padres couldn't glove a pair of catchable fly balls. And the pitching looked good.

Hey, Ian Snell struggled, but in a very promising sign, he didn't cave in. He gave up three runs in five innings, and was a pitch away from letting the game get out of hand several times, but controlled himself and the damage.

Jesse Chavez was impressive, hitting 96-97 on the gun and throwing strikes. Ever since that triple play saved his bacon against the Reds, he's been lights out. Sean Burnett and John Grabow were strong, too.

The Pirate mission: figure out how to put up some runs without Doumit for the long term and McLouth day-to-day, we hope. A lot of small ball is in their future; they best get those bunts down and turn those double plays.

-- If you didn't notice, the Padre bullpen that shut down the Bucs consisted of a lot of guys that were in AA last season. The jump from the bushes to MLB isn't always step-by-step; AA prospects in many organizations are considered to be a phone call away from the bigs; look how many are gobbled up in the Rule 5 draft.

When that's true for Pittsburgh, you'll have a good indicator that the suits have finally closed the minor-league talent gap they inherited from Dave Littlefield and Mickey White.

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