Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blame The Weatherman

Ah, it never rains when ya want it to. Last night it started too late; today, it never came at all. And so the Pirates wasted another strong Zach Duke outing, losing 5-2.

The Zachster went seven innings, dodging the figurative raindrops to give up just two runs on eight hits and a couple of walks. But with the game tied 2-2 and after Duke threw 105 pitches, it was time to send Jesse Chavez out to open the eighth, to see how he'd fare in prime time now that Matt Capps is gonna be off a little bit.

Eh, he fared not so well. With one out, he gave up a Reed Johnson blast and a Geovany Soto single. Sean Burnett, another guy trying to work his way up in the pecking order, came on to give up back-to-back doubles. Quick as a wink, it was 5-2.

And it wasn't even a nice, neat loss. The Bucs stranded 10 runners, and were 2-for-10 with guys in scoring position. In both the second and fifth innings, the Pirates put their first two runners on base without scoring.

It's an old song, but somebody has to pick it up with the bat and start banging some bodies home. Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche, we're talking about you and some RBIs, not that any one else in black and gold is threatening Hack Wilson.

And hey, start playing the game a little tighter. Delwyn Young got the start at second and threw away a DP ball that cost the team one run, and in the ninth, Freddy Sanchez led off with a walk and got doubled off first on a deep fly to right; he was on third when the ball was caught. His run meant nada; but the out sure did.

But hey, brain cramps don't only occur on the Pirate side. Carlos Zambrano got tossed out of the game when his tag of Nyjer Morgan, trying to score after a wild pitch, was ruled late (and the replay showed that it was the right, albeit a bang-bang, call).

He went nose-to-nose with the ump, they bumped, triggering the ejection, then Zambrano made his own out call towards the man in blue, threw a ball into the outfield, tossed his glove, and whacked the dugout water cooler a couple of times with a bat. Cool! It ain't often a Cubbie can be a bigger drama queen than Sweet Lou, but the Big Z managed it.

Heck, we thought Lloyd McClelland was back for a minute.

Ah, well. So much for the excitement. The Bucs are off tomorrow, and are home for three against the Astros and four against the Mets. Here's the pitching matchups for the 'Stros series from

-- Matt Capps will probably be back sooner rather than later. There's no substantial damage to his elbow, and the swelling went down enough to allow him to toss the ball around today, though not off a mound. He could be ready as soon as the weekend; if not, he'll probably be back in the saddle by early next week.

-- Tyler Yates' tests have all come back fine; but he hasn't pitched off a mound since being DL'ed, and we'd guess that his Sunday return date will be delayed at least a few days.

-- Latest Jack Splat rumor: off to Boston now. Yahoo!Sports Gordon Edes in his "Full Count Column" writes that "Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson also has attracted interest (from Boston)."

-- The Mets are looking for a corner infield or outfield bat; Joel Sherman of the NY Post says that "The Pirates would move Adam LaRoche or Eric Hinske."

-- In fact, a bunch of Bucs are on the market, according to Fox Sport's Jon Paul Morosi:
The Pirates are likely to make Sanchez available before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, multiple industry officials said Wednesday. In fact, it would be a mild surprise if Pittsburgh let the deadline pass without dealing at least one potential free agent.

Along with Sanchez, they can shop shortstop Jack Wilson, first baseman Adam LaRoche, outfielder Craig Monroe, left-hander John Grabow and infielder/outfielder Eric Hinske. Ramon Vazquez, a utility player signed through 2010, may also be moved.
Now the same outlet said yesterday that the Bucs weren't in salary dump mode, and carefully states that the guys are "available," not goners. The bench guys are one thing, but the middle infield is quite the conundrum. $16M in 2010 for two 30-something guys, or $1M for two unproven pups? Forget the bats; the pitch-to-contact staff needs some leather up the middle. What to do?

-- Recently DFA'ed OF Chris Duffy cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Class AAA Nashville. That suits the Brew Crew just fine; they like Duffy as a depth player.

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