-- Buc winning streak stops at two, losing 5-1 to the Cards. It's tough to go down by only scoring once after you get 12 hits and draw three walks. Going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, rolling into three DPs and having a guy thrown out at third with nobody out will do that. Where did those two-out knocks of April go to?
One thing that's still there is the glovework - since Jack Splat came back, the team's been playing lights-out defense, both up the middle and in the outfield. Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan have been running down everything, and Wilson and Freddy Sanchez have been brilliant.
Pre Game Post:
-- Eric Hinske is making his first start of the season at the hot corner, his original position, as 3B Andy LaRoche is getting a night off after starting 26 straight games. C Robinzon Diaz is getting his sixth straight start as JR decides to play the hot hand; we may not see Jason Jaramillo again until Saturday or Sunday.
--Ya think Sid the Kid had the Caps' number? Albert Pujols is 13-for-28 (.464) with three homers in eight games against the Pirates so far this season. Neither one ever takes a night off.
-- Despite the futility of the past couple of weeks that saw the team plummet from second place to the basement, the Pirates remain just 5 games behind in the loss column to division-leading Milwaukee.
-- The pitching matchups for the upcoming Rox series at PNC: Paul Maholm (3-1, 4.06) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (0-3, 3.53), Ian Snell (1-5, 4.50) vs. RHP Aaron Cook (2-1, 5.03), and Sunday afternoon, Zach Duke (4-3, 2.52) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4, 4.73).
-- Former Bucco Kip Wells, part of the Washington Nat's closer-by-committee rotation, has 2 saves and a 4.40 ERA in 12 outings. He's also the only guy on the staff that hasn't blown a save yet. The DC bullpen is 1-10 and has muffed 10 saves in 16 opportunities.
-- Utility IF Josh Wilson, the pride of Mt. Lebanon High, was DFA'ed by Arizona today. The 28-year-old hit .231 with two RBI and one run scored in 11 games for the D-Backs this season.
-- Matthew Pouliot of Circling the Bases picked his Top 100 Free Agents for next season's hot stove leaguers.
He ranks current Pirates Adam LaRoche at #13, Freddy Sanchez at #40, Jack Wilson at #47, and John Grabow at #62. Pouliot also picks Jay Bay as the #3 FA - he's guessing that he's looking at a 5 year, $70M contract - and Xavier Nady at #41.
-- BTW, remember Pitt QB Kevan Smith, who quit football and joined the baseball team? The soph has a current 18 game hitting streak and is batting .348/.396/.483 while making 23 starts as a catcher and designated hitter. His skein is the longest for the Panthers since Jim Negrych's 19-game hitting streak during the 2006 season.
Smith was a standout catcher at Seneca Valley High. Sounds like he's taking a page of sorts from J.R. House.