Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fat Lady Changes Her Tune

Hey, there's a reason baseball is the only sport that's not hooked up to a clock. Today, Jack Splat was that reason.

In a game that the Bucs appeared destined to do everything but win, Wilson took Bobby Jenks deep with two outs in the ninth to tie the game, followed quickly by a Nyjer Morgan double and Delwyn Young game-winning single, and the Fat Lady switched outfits.

Three Matt Capp K's later, the Pirates avoided the broom and won an improbable 4-3 victory over the White Sox, sending 28,309 Chicago fans home to cry in their cookout beer.

If Wilson hadn't come through with his heroics, the Pirates would have had no one but themselves to blame if they lost. They pounded 12 hits off Mark Buehrle in seven innings, and scored just once.

And as it was, something like 12 of their 16 hits came with two outs and nobody on base. Except for Eric Hinske's first inning double, no clutch hit was to be had off Buehrle. (In fairness, GW must note that every run in the game scored after two were out; all four Pirate scores and two of Chicago's came after two out with nobody on.)

Pittsburgh also ended three innings on the basepaths, when Wilson was thrown out at third, Freddy Sanchez was doubled off second on a soft liner, and Brandon Moss was caught taking a needless wide turn at first. Those are little league mistakes.

Jeff Karstens did a nice job against the Sox, with a two-out exception in the second, when Carlos Quentin doubled and a 3-2 curve ball to the next hitter, Brian Anderson, dropped right down the middle and was launched into the left field seats.

The Bucs treated the highly touted White Sox bullpen like they were the Washington Nationals relief corps. Besides roughing up Jenks, Hinske homered off of Octavio Dotel in the eighth.

So now it's off from the South Side to the North Side as the Bucs take on the Cubs. Da Cubs have lost seven in a row; it would be nice to keep their streak going. Here are the probable pitchers for the Cub series, compliments of

-- Give JR some love for this win. He shook up the lineup, giving Nate McLouth and Adam LaRoche the day off, and put Hinske at first, Craig Monroe at DH, and Young in right. They combined for five hits and three RBI.

-- Three home runs were hit today, by Brian Anderson, Eric Hinske, and Jack Wilson. It was the first of the year for all three.

-- How's this for home cookin'? Pittsburgh is settled in at their Chicago hotel, living the life of Riley, while the Cubs have to fly in from San Diego for the upcoming series at Wrigley. Ah, those MLB computers; gotta love 'em!

-- GW doesn't see many AL games (mostly by choice), but he was impressed by Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. He can do it all, and could easily become the next great AL SS.

-- GW was also impressed by the White Sox brand of ball; it has a lot of NL elements. Notably, they bunt, both for basehits and to move runners up, steal, and love to put men in motion on the bases, opening up the infield for their hitters. Running Anderson set up their third run today and led to a score yesterday. Thumbs up to Ozzie.

-- Hey, it's been 50 years since the Kitten hurled his classic. Here's the story:
Green Weenie: The Night The Kitten Roared;
Post-Gazette: In 1959 Harvey Haddix Pitched Perhaps The Best Game Ever - And Lost;
Trib-Review: Haddix Masterpiece Outing Turns 50 Fifty Years Since Haddix Masterpiece

-- From the Pirates Report, an in-depth and revealing look at Pedro Martinez by Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror.


WilliamJPellas said...

The Bucs' bench is definitely far stronger and deeper than it was last season, that is for sure. Kudos to John Russell for giving Hinske and Monroe their day in the sun. I'd like to see a bit more from Hinske; seems to me he could easily start 3 or 4 out of every 7 games because he can play so many positions. Say, 1 or 2 games a week at 1B until / unless Adam LaRoche goes on a tear; then 1 game a week subbing for Andy LaRoche at third; then 1 or 2 games a week starting at one of the corner OF spots. That plus his frequent pinch hitting would equal at least 300 at bats, and I'd be very happy to see him get that much use on our team. I really, really like Hinske as a top end super utility guy. In that role, in my view, he is one of the best in the business.

Ron Ieraci said...

Well, Will, he's on pace to get 250 at-bats now, with Monroe and Vasquez getting 200 and Young in the mix, too.

I think JR's getting plenty of use from the bench, though I'd like to see a little less of Adam LaRoche when he's in one of his funks.

I still believe that little LaRoche and Moss have to be used early and often, just to get a sense of what they can do.

It'll be interesting, as a side note, to see what the logjam of competent OF's does to McCutch's timetable.

WilliamJPellas said...

Hinske can play first, along with his other positions. With that in mind, I quite agree with you about Adam LaRoche. As an established veteran, he of course gets some leeway and time to hit his way out of a slump. On the other hand, he's also the streakiest of all streak hitters. The bottom line: I don't think it harms Adam to get 2 days off per week in favor of Hinske when he's flailing away like he is now. Hinske, don't forget, hit 20 homers last year for the Tampa Rays, and while he's not a true power hitter, he's a steady, professional veteran who can do a lot of good things for you.