Maholm saw his ERA jump over half a run, from 3.61 to 4.23 as he suffered his third loss versus four victories against the Twins.
Hard as it may be to believe, the Bucs were in it in the fifth, when they loaded the bases with one out and down just 4-2. They were a single away, but Adam LaRouche hit into a 4-6-3 DP, and the wheels fell off the rest of the way.
You can't really blame the offense for this one, but they did continue their pitty-patty ways, banging out eleven hits, but stranding 10 and hitting 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
-- Tonight's game at the Metrodome ended a streak of 786 games that the Pirates have played on grass, the longest in MLB according to Elias Sports Bureau. The last game Pittsburgh played on turf was on July 11, 2004, in Puerto Rico against the Montreal Expos, barnstorming in their last season before moving to DC.
-- John Perrotto of the Pirates Report serves up the latest trade rumors: John Grabow and LAA; Adam LaRouche and the Giants; Ian Snell and Colorado or Texas; and Jack Splat, maybe the Red Sox.
-- Stan McNeal of the Sporting News picks out six players who have to step up their game in the Central for their team to compete.
The N.L. Central is tighter than my budget these days. A mere 4 1/2 games separate the first-place Brewers from the last-place Astros and Pirates, with the Cardinals, Reds and Cubs bunched between them.-- With so many high school kids selected, the Pirates expect the draft negotiations to drag out this season. But they've gotten a few college guys to sign on the dotted line and join with Tony Sanchez: Jose Hernandez (23rd, LF, Texas @ San Antonio), Jason Erickson (24th, RHP, Washington), Ty Summerlin (30th, SS, Southeastern Louisiana), Pat Irvine (33rd, LF, Elon), and Marc Baca (42nd, RHP, UNLV).
When times are so tight, one player can make a big difference. Every team in the Central can point to one player who was supposed to be a difference-maker but largely has been a disappointment. To give their teams the best chance to win the division, these guys need to step up:
Pirates: SP Ian Snell
What was expected: The offensively challenged Pirates needed the 27-year-old righthander to return to his form of 2006-07, when he went a respectable 23-23 with a 4.23 ERA.
What has happened: The Pirates are feeling the drag of Snell's command struggles (4.75 walks per nine innings). Pittsburgh has a winning record when Zach Duke (7-6), Paul Maholm (8-5) and Ross Ohlendorf (7-6) start, but it is 3-10 when Snell (1-7, 5.25 ERA) pitches.
What's next: Snell, who actually has pitched well his past two starts, might have worn out his welcome because of a penchant for making excuses. Since losing his temper after manager John Russell ordered him to walk Tigers No. 8 hitter Ramon Santiago to face rookie pitcher Rick Porcello (who hit an RBI single) this past Friday, Snell's name has come up in trade speculation. Snell was well-liked by Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who gave him his opportunity to start when he was managing the Pirates.