Thursday, August 6, 2009

Five In A Row, But Who's Counting?

In the first frame, a couple of baserunning blunders cost the Bucs at least a run. After walking Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones, Mad Max Scherzer struck out Ryan Doumit. Young stole third, but Jones stayed cemented at first, oblivious to the play.

Delwyn Young singled Milledge in, and would have had two RBI if Jones was at second, but instead got thrown out trying to stretch his knock into a double.

The D-backs tied it in the third - Kevin Hart fits right in with the Pirate staff; he gave up three straight two-out hits - but Milledge to Ronny Cedeno to Ryan Doumit nailed the go-ahead run at the plate.

The Bucs came right back. Andrew McCutchen walked, and Milledge lasered a drive off the left field wall to score him.

The high comedy on the basepaths continued in the fourth. With Andy LaRoche at third and Cedeno on first with one one, Hart fouled off a pair of bunts, then swung through strike three. LaRoche was caught charging down the line. No excuse.

Arizona came right back, using a lead-off single, sacrifice, and two-out (!) seeing eye roller through the second base hole to tie it again in the fifth.

Hart ran out of gas in the sixth. He had Mark Reynolds 0-2, threw him three straight balls, shook off Doumit and gave up a 446' blast into the Pirate's bullpen on a 3-2 heater down the middle. Then he fell behind 3-0 and came back with two more fastballs; Miguel Montero drilled the second one into right for a double.

But Hart showed heart, and stranded Montero at third. And the Bucs repaid his effort with a four spot.

Young singled and Bradon Moss drew a walk. Then the teams played a little one-upmanship. LaRoche fouled a pair of bunts, but the runners moved up on a wild pitch, so it all came out even when LaRoche bounced out. Cedeno rolled one off the mound, and both runners came home. It was 'Zona's turn to cry.

Pinch-hitter Steve Pearce greeted reliever Juan Gutierrez with a blast off the right center field wall, scoring Cedeno. Pearce came around when he took third on an ill-advised throw homeand then scored when the toss to third rocketed into left field. The D-backs would boot one more ball, but escape without any further damage done to the score or their pride.

But the inability of Pirate starters to get deep into a game is showing on the bullpen. Jeff Karstens came on, gave up a leadoff homer and two singles after an out. Both were excuse-me dinks with two strikes, but if he's a little fresher...

Jesse Chavez took over, and promptly uncorked a wild pitch. A ground out plated another run before he got out of the inning. He wasn't so lucky in the eighth. Aussie Trent Oeltjen, playing his first big league game, hit a 325' high fly ball down the right field line; the wall, sadly in this case, was just 320' away.

Matt Capps and Clay Zavada exchanged a pair of scoreless frames. For Capps, it was the first time this season that he's gone over an inning of work.

In the eleventh, both teams had a chance to put it away, but why put the fans out of their misery? Steve Jackson loaded the bases, but a K and bouncer got him out of the jam. For the Bucs, McCutch and Milledge led off with singles. But the 3-4-5 hitters, Jones, Doumit, and Young, all fell behind 5o Jon Rausch 0-2 and the runners never moved.

The inevitable finally occurred in the twelfth. Jackson loaded the bases with one out again, and this time, the D-Backs unloaded them. A double, sac fly, single, botched throw home...well, it wasn't pretty. When the night owls quit hooting, it was 11-6.

This is certain - the Pirates need a starter to put together a deep game. They're not off until Monday, and then play ten more games in a row.

And hey, remember 2008's 7-21 August? Well, the Bucs are 1-5 so far - and against the soft part of the schedule. They play contending teams throughout August, except for a series against the Reds starting the 21st. The kids better grow up quick.

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