The Bucs had a chance early, but well, ya know... They had four hits, two of them lead-off knocks, and two of them doubles in the first three innings. One came in, and they were held to a pair of hits the rest of the way as they went down quietly this afternoon, 3-1, striking out eleven times.
The good news was Kevin Hart gave the Bucs six good frames, giving up two runs on seven hits but only one walk while whiffing five. The odd news is that JR, with a 2-1 game and an off day tomorrow, elected to bring in Denny Bautista and Phil Dumatrait.
Bautista got through his 2/3s of an inning with a walk and strikeout. Dumatrait faced three batters, too, and gave up another long ball. That's two homers in his last ten pitches.
The insurance run probably didn't make much difference the way the Pirates were hitting, but shouldn't you be putting your better players on the field against a team in a September play-off run? There's a time to evaluate and a time to go with the best ya got.
The guys will all be on the big bird soon, winging their way back to the Three Rivers and their final homestand, beginning Friday against San Diego, Cincinnati, and LA. The probable pitchers are listed here, from MLB.com.
-- A couple of back-of-the-envelope calculations; the Bucs, since July 1st, have averaged 3.5 runs per game and hit .219.
-- Yesterday's come-from-behind win was nothing new for the LA nine. The Dodgers have 12 walk-off wins this season and Andre Ethier had the game-winning knock in six of them, four of the hits leaving the yard.
How money is he during crunch time? Ethier is batting .333/.472/.649 with four homers, six doubles, 13 walks, and 17 RBIs in 72 plate appearances from the ninth inning on.
-- Tomorrow's day off will be the last of the season for the Pirates. They're scheduled to play their last 18 games in 17 days, with the next eleven at PNC before closing the year on the road.
-- RHP Brad Lincoln earned the win yesterday when the US beat Japan, 4-2, in the the World Cup. Lincoln pitched 7-1/3 innings, surrendering one run on six hits and striking out five. It was his second straight strong outing for Team USA.