Hey, the only thing you can tell about baseball is that you just never can tell. A guy with an ERA through the roof throws a complete game against you one night, and the guy with the best ERA in the league can't get through five innings the next.
That's what happened tonight as the Bucs evened their series against the Astros with a 7-4 victory. Wandy Rodriguez with the 1.71 ERA gave up five runs, nine hits, and walked three in 4-2/3 frames, while Jeff Karstens was tossing big ol' hooks all over the lot and setting Houston down.
Karstens gave up two runs in seven innings on six hits, and could have done better. JR shook up the lineup, with Eric Hinske, Craig Monroe, and Delwyn Young starting, Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, and Brandon Moss sitting against a tough lefty, and Nyjer Morgan moving to center.
Both runs off Karstens came with two outs on long flies that could and probably should have been caught, but Young and Morgan couldn't come up with the grabs after long runs.
Still, the Bucs put up a three spot in the first, and added pairs in the fifth and eighth to lead comfortably going into the ninth, 7-2. Gorzo came on and got the first two outs handily; then the wheels came off.
He walked Edwin Maysonet - can't anyone get that kid out? - gave up a double and another walk. Out came the hook and in came bruised but unbowed closer Matt Capps. He plunked a batter for one run, and walked the next for another.
Carlos Lee was up, bases juiced, and was the go-ahead run. But a steady diet of sliders led to a roller to Steady Freddy, and the Bucs can take the series with a win tomorrow afternoon.
Hinske had three hits, and Sanchez, Andy LaRoche, and Robby Diaz added a pair. But it was a team effort at the dish; six guys had RBI, and six guys scored. The Bucs pounded out 17 hits, drew 5 walks, and were 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
-- Not only did JR shuffle the lineup, but he played with the order, too. Young LaRoche batted second, Sanchez third. Loading up the top of the order is never a bad thing. They went 4-for-8, each drew a walk, they scored three times and drove in a pair.
-- The Bucs drew a full house of 37,167 to Skyblast tonight, to go with 18,236 fans last night. It's a start.
-- Gorzo's command problem has become more apparent each outing; it's the kind of thing that a starter will have trouble with working out of the pen. He doesn't have the luxury of a couple of innings to find out what's working that night.
We're glad he's showing the old velocity, but it's about time to give a guy that's suited to relief work the call, especially if Yates is out for awhile, and let Gorzo get back to a regular routine in the rotation.
It's especially tough when they're carrying Donnie Veal, too. The Bucs haven't been exposed enough so far this year to have to trot him out ala Evan Meek in 2008, but his future is in the rotation, too.
-- We're beginning to think the Pirates are auditioning Hinske for the first base opening when Adam LaRoche rides out of town. Yah, he'll be 32 in August and hasn't flashed much power yet, but that may be due to so few regular at-bats more than anything else.
And both Steve Pearce (.272-6-29) and Garrett Jones (.289-6-32) are having productive starts at Indy. The Buc options look pretty good at first, and remember, a lot of folk believe that's where Pedro is gonna end up.
-- Tests confirmed that Tyler Yates doesn't have any structural damage to his elbow, just inflammation. He long-tossed today; still no return date.
-- No such good news for Craig Hansen. Tests done on his neck revealed inflammation of the nerve that controls the Trapezius muscle (it's a big muscle that runs from the neck down to mid-back and to the shoulder blade, like a stretched triangle). He'll be shut down from throwing for up to four weeks. Hansen has already missed a month.