Pittsburgh a laughing stock? Well, hey, being down 7-0 before you come to bat might cause a couple of chuckles. Zach Duke didn't get tattooed, except for his ERA, but some well placed - oh, what the heck, poorly played - balls led to the first eight Cubs reaching base.
Ronny Cedeno started off by eating a roller in the hole. Then a bunt was pushed past Duke, whose stab at the ball cost him the race to the bag. A jam shot was softly dinged past Ramon Vazquez's mitt. A two hopper went under Andy LaRoche's glove. Another bouncer wended its way past Steve Pearce.
Then came the only shot of the inning, a Soto drive off the Clemente Wall on a 2-0 pitch. It was followed by a dink into left. Cedeno made a nice play up the middle on the next hitter, but the ump ruled Pearce's foot was off the base on the throw. He was blatantly wrong, but when it rains...
Finally a bunt and an out, at long last. With the infield in, a big bouncer to Cedeno was dropped, costing him an easy out at home, though he recovered to get the out at first. And hey, a can of corn to left. Seven runs, eight hits - and only one hit hard. The infield did a remarkable imitation of garden gnomes in polyester.
But the baby Bucs didn't fold up their tents. They kept trying to come back, but whatever chance they had died with the six guys they left in scoring position. And with a final score of 9-4, they needed every one of them to plate.
The Pirates are now 20-43 against the NL Central. They have to compete in their own backyard before dreaming of taking on the world. 'Nuff said.
-- Eight straight hits to lead off an inning is a record that's been set four times in MLB now. And hey, for Chicago, it was the second time they did it against the Pirates. The first time was in 1973.
-- Want some high-priced talent in Pittsburgh? Look no further than Arnie Palmer's box. They celebrated his 80th birthday before the game, and coming to the 'Burgh to party were Jim Rohr, Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Jim Nantz, and Peter Jacobsen, among others.
-- Though Delwyn Young has made strides at second base, his Ultimate Zone Rating, as determined by Fangraphs, is -3, which is in the bottom third of the rankings. Freddy Sanchez's rating is 5.7, which is second in the NL.
In case you're wondering, Ronnie Cedeno's overall UZR is -0.3; Jack Wilson's is 14.7. Wilson's is the best of the shortstops with at least 550 innings played; Cedeno is 20th out of 28.
-- As expected, C Robinzon Diaz and utility guy Brian Bixler were called up today, along with RHP Eric Hacker. Donnie Veal is off the DL, and Jeff Karstens will come off the list tomorrow; Jose Ascanio is still a week or so away from joining the gang.
-- Tim Dierkes of Major League Trade Rumors has his "Off Season Outlook" for the Pirates posted.
-- Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette has the season recaps for the Indianapolis Indians, the Altoona Curve, and the West Virginia Power today.
Jim Rosati of the North Side Notch also has his own detailed breakdowns of Indy, the Curve, and the Power posted on his site.