One problem is that the top of the order, Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez aren't getting on at the Herculean pace that they started out on; in fact, Sanchez looks lost at the dish, something we've never seen before, even when he wasn't hitting .300.
But more than that, the team's falling into a pattern of watching the first pitch split the middle of the plate, and swinging at the second, which is generally bounced to the dish. Hey, we're all for patience, but there's a reason that the NL batters are hitting .327 when they go after the first pitch and .144 when it's 0-2.
At any rate, we understand that Long and JR had a pow-wow after the game; expect a little more aggressiveness from the Pirate hitters tomorrow.
The pity is that it wasted a brilliant effort by Zach Duke. The lefty gave up just six hits, walked a pair and struck out seven. His complete game gave the Buc bullpen a desperately needed day off, and if he could have solved Alexei Ramirez, who scored both runs, they might still be playing. But he couldn't, and lost 2-0.
The Big O, Ross Ohlendorf, takes the mound against LHP Clayton Richard. Richard has been up and down; he went seven innings against the Jays in his last start, giving up a pair of runs. The start before that, the As rattled him for seven tallies in four innings. We'll should see which guy we get early on.
-- RHP Craig Hansen was shut down in extended spring training after throwing just one side session. Hansen will return to Pittsburgh and have some tests run on his neck and shoulders. He may be on the DL for the foreseeable future; no one can figure out what's causing his neck spasms.
-- Baseball Weekly came out with this week's "Prospect Hot Sheet, and a Pirate pitcher finally made it. Altoona's Brad Lincoln was ranked #7, and here's what BA had to say about Pittsburgh's 2006 numero uno draft choice:
Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.56, 16 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 3 BB, 11 SO
The Scoop: The fourth overall pick in '06, Lincoln had Tommy John surgery in April 2007 and missed that entire season. If you're an avid BA reader you know that already, but did you realize how effective Lincoln had been this season in jumping to Double-A? For a pitcher who compiled a 4.69 ERA in two A-ball stops last year, while striking out 6.5 per nine innings, Lincoln's early '09 performance has been a revelation. He ranks fourth in the EL with 40 strikeouts, ninth with a 2.31 ERA and third with 46 2/3 innings. Yes, it appears he's made it all the way back from surgery.
-- The Pirates sent RHP Eric Krebs to the Dodgers as the PTBNL in the Delwyn Young trade. Krebs was pitching out of the bullpen at AA Altoona, where he was 2-4 with a 4.86 ERA.
-- Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus chirped in with his mock draft (it's a subscriber-only article) and has the Pirates going with Missouri RHP Kyle Gibson, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review. Gibson is a 6'6" fastball-slider pitcher and is thought to have a high ceiling even if he's not ready for prime time yet.
-- After using the bullpen for 13-1/3 innings in a doubleheader Wednesday, the Marlins called up LHP Dave Davidson, who they got off waivers earlier in the season from Pittsburgh. His stay may be short, but they need arms tonight and are carrying 14 pitchers.
-- Remember the ex-Pirate tree involved with the Jody Gerut deal that we posted yesterday? Well, it goes on. The Brewers DFA'ed Chris Duffy to make room for Jody Gerut. So Duffy beat out Tony Gwynn for the last roster spot, and now he's the one out of a job. Baseball is a funny game.