Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rhythm of the Falling Rain...

Ding dong, the witch is dead...for a night, anyway. The Bucs broke a 17 game losing streak to the Brew Crew tonight in a game that featured lots of thunder and lightning. And it wasn't all of Mother Nature's making, either.

Pittsburgh escaped an early threat when three straight Brewer knocks to start off the game, delayed over two hours by the rain, only netted one run. The Pirates put up a four spot in their half, all with two outs and capped by Delwyn Young's three-run bomb.

The Buccos had a chance to really ice it the next frame, when they had the bases juiced with no outs and a run in, but Adam LaRoche rolled into a DP, one of three Pittsburgh would hit into during the match, all with at least two runners aboard.

The Big O ran through the raindrops all night, both literally and figuratively, but lasted five innings and gave up two runs on seven hits, one being gift wrapped by a pair of Pirate misplays in the fifth.

Jack Splat slipped going for ball on a slick infield and Freddy Sanchez double-clutched a DP turn, costing him the out at first and ending the inning. They may say that the contract brouhaha hasn't affected them, but their play in the field says otherwise. Best to get it done with, one way or another.

Ohlendorf was pinch hit for in the bottom of the fifth, up 6-2, and it was a good move by JR. The Bucs had threatened but not added on, and he took a shot by sending up Jeff Salazar with two on and two out, in an effort at trying to put the game away. It didn't work - Salazar grounded out - but it was the right button to push.

Jeff Karstens pitched three innings of shutout relief, and was up 7-2 thanks to a Garrett Jones solo shot, when Milwaukee proved to have the memory of a mafia don.

Karstens led off in the bottom of the eighth and was drilled by the first pitch, a long-awaited payback for his plunking of Ryan Braun (he should have smacked him in the yapper instead of back) in late April.

That led to a bench-clearing shoving matched, ignited by Jason Kendall. He took umbrage at Karstens barking at Chris Smith, and everyone poured onto the field, even the bullpens.

The umps mopped it up with a minimum of drama, but Karstens, who had already bruised his glove-hand thumb on a soft liner through the box, had to leave when his arm swelled between innings, with purple stitch marks prominent on his left arm.

He did have the last laugh, though, scoring the Pirates final run on Ryan Doumit's single. Jesse Chavez was roughed up in the ninth (Matt Capps was actually loosening up) but struck out Prince Fielder to end the game, an 8-5 final.

The Buc batters took advantage of the fact that no one named Lincecum, Zito, or Cain was pitching, but they were still just 3-of-15 with runners in scoring position.

And let's hope Karsten's battered wing is OK. He's become a versatile linchpin of the bullpen, filling the bill in virtually every situation but closing. Virgil Vasquez pitches tomorrow, and if he has another rough outing, the suits will be in a pickle.

Moving Karstens back to the rotation will weaken the pen; they would probably replace him with vet Steve Jackson or long-shot Chris Bootcheck, and they're not long men.

Gorzo won't get the call because he's within six weeks of service time from becoming arbitration eligible, so we won't see him 'til September. That leaves red-haired stepchild Ian Snell and inconsistent Dan McCutchen as their choices from Indy. Decisions, decisions.


WilliamJPellas said...

Personally I'd rather get a look at McCutchen, decent-but-not-great Triple A stats notwithstanding. If nothing else, he does have impeccable control and respectable (though again, not great) strikeout numbers. He is walking less than 3 batters per 9 innings and striking out about 7.5 per 9. The longball is a bit of a bugaboo---he's allowed 9 in 96 innings---but that's not terrible, either. It would equate to about 20-25 in a 200 inning season. All in all, McCutchen has produced a 9-5 record with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. With a better ERA I'd call him a good prospect. As it is, I'd rather see him than Snell or Gorzellany or even Vasquez for that matter.

Ron Ieraci said...

Unless they flip Karstens and Vasquez, Will, you may get your wish.