Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How Low Can You Go?

Hey, the Pirates looked like they were cruisin'. But we know better, don't we?

Up 2-0 in the fifth behind an Andrew McCutchen lead-off homer and a two-out Ronny Cedeno double, Zach Duke seemed to worked his way out of a jam, set up by a botched bunt coverage and an infield single that ticked off of Delwyn Young's glove. With the bases juiced, a dribbler in front of the plate was pounced on by Ryan Doumit.

He stepped on the dish, and threw to first, but Garrett Jones came off the bag and then had the ball knocked out of his mitt by the runner. The throw was OK; Jones appeared to show some indecision at first, his part-time position. And we all know what happened next. Bingo, bango, bongo, it's 5-2, Reds.

Pittsburgh got a run back on a Robby Diaz RBI parachute into right, but a Donny Veal/Chris Bootcheck tag team in the seventh gave that back and more; when they left, it was 8-3.

The next frame was Eric Hacker's turn; he made his maiden appearance, and held the Reds to just two runs. The Bucs scored once in the eighth, on a bases-loaded walk. For some reason, JR sent Brian Bixler up with the bases juiced to pinch hit for Young. Where has his head been the past week?

The Cincy pitcher, rookie Carlos Fisher, had just walked two batters on nine pitches. So BB is told to take a strike, right? Wrong. On a 1-0 pitch, he swung through an ankle high curve and proceeded to whiff waving.

Did we mention that Cincinnati had the NL's lowest batting average coming into this game at .243? They banged out sixteen hits tonight. The Reds sent nine batters up in one inning twice; they only went down in order twice, in the first and last innings.

Three balls went of Pirate gloves. The fielders botched a bunt and a DP. Pittsburgh stranded ten runners; with fourteen hits, six for extra bases, and three walks, they still only scored four runs. The manager is consulting his Ouija board before he makes a move.

It's just ugly.

-- When Garrett Jones went deep yesterday, he became only the second player in MLB history to hit 20 or more homers in a season without hitting any before July. The other was Kevin Maas of the 1990 Yankees, who like Jones, was a mid-season call-up.

-- the Pirate prospects on the US World Cup team may be making a better case for a job at PNC next year in Italy than in Pittsburgh. Brad Lincoln (2-0, 1.89 ERA) allowed two runs and six hits in 6-2/3 innings in a 6-3 victory against Venezuela. Pedro Alvarez went 1 for 3 with a homer, his fifth, a walk and RBI.

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