Charlie Morton showed why the Pirates lusted for him today. He went six innings, giving up just one hit, and the Bucs backed him with a seven spot to take the first game from the Fish tonight 7-4.
Morton came back from a 45 minute third-inning rain delay, and in the fourth, it looked like the cool-down period wasn't going to bother him a bit, as he punched out the last two batters. It caught up to him in the fifth and sixth frames, when his stuff got him into trouble and then got him right back out of it.
He let the first two hitters get aboard both innings on three walks and a single, and went 3-0 on the next batter both frames. But Morton, cool as the July weather in Pittsburgh, got them both times and wriggled out the self-inflicted jams.
Joel Hanrahan and Jeff Karstens each gave up a pair of runs, sandwiched around a scoreless inning by John Grabow, but the game was never competitive; it was 7-0 in the seventh.
Brandon Moss and Ramon Vasquez got the Bucs off and flying with homers in the first two frames, and Jack Wilson doubled home a pair in the seventh inning to ice the game. The Pirates were abnormally efficient on offense, scoring seven times on eight hits.
Good starting pitching and timely hitting on the same night; now that's something you don't see too often from Pittsburgh. And it was a welcome sight.
-- Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports: The Pirates, who are apparently not done dealing yet, have engaged in trade discussions with the Twins regarding a number of players, major league sources said Thursday. At present, Minnesota is most interested in second baseman Freddy Sanchez and relievers Matt Capps and John Grabow, the sources said.
But DK in the PBC Blog says that "The Pirates and Twins are not discussing Freddy Sanchez. There is, in fact, nothing active on the Sanchez front." We note that he doesn't squelch the Capps or Grabow rumors, though.
Sanchez, by the way, was off tonight and is listed as day-to-day with back tightness.
-- OK, the Ryan Doumit watch can begin for real now. He caught 5 innings in the GCL today, and is going to Indy Sunday. His hoped-for ETA is to return after the All-Star break.
-- Baseball America has picked West Virginia Power LHP Rudy Owens, to its All-Surprise Minor League Team. He's 9-1, with a 1.90 ERA. They note: "A member of the final class of draft-and-follows, Owens has demonstrated both control and an ability to miss bats, and he leads the South Atlantic League in both ERA and wins."