Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Baseball's Homecoming Team

Let's see - a team gets eleven hits to go with three walks, and scores twice. It strands 13 runners and goes 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. And wins.

Such is the good life for Washington Nat opponents, and tonight the Bucs were the fortunate recipients, winning their fifth in a row 2-1. Manny Acta and his shrink (or maybe barkeeper) must be on first-name basis by now.

The big rally was in the ninth, when Delwyn Young led off with a pinch-hit single. Nyjer Morgan, of all people, couldn't bunt him over. Two more singles moved the guys station-to-station and juiced the sacks. A force at home was next, and with two outs, Adam LaRoche swung at the first two Joel Hanrahan sliders, missing them badly.

So hey, he tried two more. One bounced and was blocked; the next one ricocheted outside, through the catcher's five-hole, and all the way to the wall as Freddy Sanchez scampered home with the lead run. And that's how the Bucs hammered out the win.

Well, there was a little more to it. The Nats kept coming, but DPs in the eighth and ninth frames kept them at bay. Matt Capps came on to get the save when with two outs in the last frame, he induced Josh Willingham to hit a ball 400'. Nate McLouth put his back to the 402' mark, did a little leap, and the Pirates were home free.

And give Paul Maholm, who didn't figure in the win, lots of love for the victory. He kept the hard-hitting Nats to one run in six innings though his command was less than stellar. The lefty threw 114 pitches, but never gave an inch and got the outs when he needed them.

So another series is in the bag; it'd be sweet to break out the broom before visiting the North and South Sides of Chicago starting Friday.

-- GW knows that if anyone gave the tiniest dang about what he thought about baseball, he'd be pulling down a buck for his babble. But why does JR insist on bunting after a leadoff double? Unless the pitcher's up, let the batter hit. (Wonder if the check's in the mail, lol?)

-- And hey, no complaints this year about the third base coach, Tony Beasley. It's not a matter of everyone being waved home or to third safely, but taking a chance when it's called for.

The Pirates got their first run because Beasley windmilled Andy LaRoche home on a Jack Splat double to left, because he knew there were two outs and the pitcher was on deck. He scored easily (Adam Dunn basically rolled the ball back to the infield), but even if he was gunned, it's a heads-up call.

-- Ya know, everyone says that it's a risk to take a pitcher early in the draft; just ask Dave Littlefield. GW wonders why, then, does the Sporting News mock draft have 22 of 32 first-round picks being pitchers?

If the draft is right on through the first three selections, the Bucs could have RHP Alex White - or any position player they want with their choice. That should be interesting, no?

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