Well, Charlie Morton looks like a guy who has caught whatever it is that ails Kevin Hart, blessed with great stuff that turns into batting practice when a game begins. And like Hart, he may end up part of Indy's staff if he doesn't straighten up.
That would be be a hard blow for the staff to take; make no mistake that the pitching is thin and the brass is counting on Morton taking the ball every fifth day. But with a record of 0-3 and an ERA of 16.55, the Pirates can't afford to carry a guy that only gets them to the third inning, behind by a bushel of runs.
Morton's lasted only 10-1/3 innings in three starts, and yes, Ohlie's hurt, Daniel McCutchen has been ineffective, and there's not much ready in the pipeline yet. But the bullpen has gotten no rest, and the Pirates' gritty start is going to be for naught if the pitching doesn't pull its weight.
It's a mess, and there's no answer ready at Indy yet. Not one Tribe pitcher with over five innings of work has an ERA under four. But a couple of more subpar starts by Morton may find Hart or maybe Brad Lincoln in Pittsburgh sooner than they should be. We'll see Saturday, when the Pirates need an extra starter from Indy, unless they go with Brian Burres again (and he worked four innings tonight, which pretty well ruins his schedule).
Keeping with the play-it-close or get blown out mode the Bucs are stuck in, the Pirates batters took a mulligan, too. They had six hits, three by Andrew McCutchen. The only promising sign was that Jeff Clement finally singled, and drove one to the track in dead center.
Three starters are hitting .200 or less - Ryan Doumit (.200), Garrett Jones (.196), and Clement (.121).
At any rate, the Bucs bowed 9-1 tonight. But there's hope for tomorrow; Zach Duke is on the hill, facing off against Yovani Gallardo.
-- Andy LaRoche was cleared to pinch-hit tonight, and should be in the lineup tomorrow. But now Bobby Crosby's left shoulder is sore, and he's day-to-day.
-- Catcher Tony Sanchez is dealing with some shoulder soreness, which explains his recent stint at DH. Sanchez has been the designated hitter in the Marauders' last three games to rest his throwing arm.
-- Vinnie Chulk, who threw well in the spring until he was shut down with shoulder tightness, has been placed on the disabled list with right arm soreness, the same problem he had in Florida.
-- Rather than reporting to AAA as expected, Hayden Penn has been sent to the Pirates' extended spring training program in Florida. He's expected to spend about a month there before joining the Indy rotation, both to work on mechanical issues and to get some innings under his belt before being thrown back into the fire.
-- Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Times reports that the Player's Union has no problems with the Pirates' payroll, according to MLPA leader Michael Weiner, who was speaking at Penn State.