OK, break out the checklist. Playing a Central Division opponent? Check. Playing on the road? Check. No home runs? Check. Another loss? Check.
The Pirates outhit the Astros 9-4 tonight, but no matter how you do the math, eight singles do not equal two long balls. Four times, the Pirates left two runners on base. The Astros left no runners on base.
A bunt single for the 'Stros was followed by a Carlos Lee homer. A seventh inning walk was followed by a Miguel Tejada dinger (on an ankle high waste pitch, yet). The only other Houston runner was caught stealing. And that was all the Astros that reached base.
Ross Ohlendorf lasted 6-1/3 frames, and gave up four hits and a walk, but the yard ball did him and the Buccos in.
The Bucs stranded nine, but when you have no extra base power and only three hitters in the lineup with an average over .246, that'll happen.
Throw in a little Keystone Kop action on the bases, when Tony Beasley waved Ryan Doumit around, then called him back as Lastings Milledge steamed into the hot corner, leaving third baseman Jeff Keepinger wondering who to tag, and well... Tonight it resulted in another ho-hum, 4-2 loss.
But hey, at least Pitt won. And people wonder why the media and fans flock to football and hockey in September.
-- Delwyn Young is back on the bench. We're wondering if the crash course in playing second, taking place before regular pre-game routines, is sapping him physically and mentally.
We also wonder how much this opens up second base next year. The rumors of Andy LaRoche and his middle-of-the-infield bat getting a look at that position aren't exactly blazing, but they won't die, either. Shelby Ford's meltdown at Indy means that there are no other strong internal candidates for 2010.
-- Gordon Edes of Yahoo!Sports has picked his over and underachiever teams for 2009. Garrett Jones earns a spot on the over-achiever list, along with ex-Bucco Nyjer Morgan. Long ago Pirate Brian Giles was named to the under-achiever squad.
-- In their final Prospect Hot Sheet of the season, Baseball America picked its Top Twenty prospects. Pedro was Pittsburgh's lone rep, at #14.