Charlie Morton couldn't match up with him, as he tried to chip away at the rust of pitching only six innings in three weeks. But he kept them in the game, giving up a three spot in his five innings of work. Morton threw strikes, but his command was off.
The bullpens took over, and they both were more than equal to the job at hand. KC had three guys pitch 2-2/3 scoreless and hitless innings; the Pirates used five arms to shut down the Royals over the last four frames on one hit.
It was one of those glass-half-full days; everyone but Cincinnati in the Central division lost today, so it was a squandered opportunity, but at least they didn't lose any ground. And hey, the goal is to keep winning series, and they did that against KC.
-- Too early to tell whassup with Charlie Morton; we'll wait until he takes his turn on a regular basis and gets into a groove before we pass judgment. His ball has nice movement, especially the heater and change, but he was up and over the plate too much today. Could be inactivity; could be his MO. Time will tell.
-- That the Bucs are a team in progress was obvious in the fifth inning. With runners on first and third with one out, Adam LaRoche went for the runner at home after fielding a slow grounder. Had him, too, except Jason Jaramillo missed both blocking the dish and the tag, and that run would loom large.
The next batter, with runners on first and second, lifted a fairly deep fly to center. Cutch went for the runner at third instead of making the smart play to second, allowing both runners to advance. Young teams that are dependent on small ball have to play smart baseball in the field, too.
-- Another thing we don't understand: after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh and up 3-0, the Royals put a big shift on Eric Hinske, with the third baseman playing the shortstop position. Doesn't Pittsburgh need runners in that situation, at least enough to see if you couldn't push a ball past the pitcher for a sure hit, or take a stab at poking it the other way to get the tying run on base?
Not our heroes. Lefty Hinske took two big cuts, then popped out - to the third baseman playing short. To add insult to injury, the next batter, Andy LaRoche, tripled. Smart small ball; can't play it sometimes and not others.
-- Geez, what's Ray Searage doing with the pitchers at Indy? Ian Snell went seven frames today, and gave up one unearned run on two hits, with one walk and 17 punch-outs. Tom Gorzelanny pitched five innings yesterday, allowing two unearned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out 12. Look out, Joe Kerrigan!
-- Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer took a look at the upcoming MLB meat market, and had this to say about the Pirates:
"Headed toward a record 17th straight losing season, the Pirates are already sellers, having sent all-star outfielder McLouth to Atlanta. Word is the Pirates would deal starter Ian Snell and listen on starters Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, and closer Matt Capps. First baseman Adam LaRoche, second baseman Freddy Sanchez, and shortstop Jack Wilson are all in play."