Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ah, Their Moms Still Love 'Em

So much for the quality starts. Paul Maholm went through an inning that had to leave his arm screaming, as he gave up four runs on 54 pitches in one frame against the Cards this afternoon.

He had breezed through the first two, though there were warning signs when he fell behind some batters. But the third frame featured five 3-2 counts, a two-out, two run knock on an 0-2 pitch (of all times to find the plate!), and three walks. His pitch count was at 83 when the inning finally ended.

And hey, JR kept him in; he even let him bat in the bottom of the third. He lasted for three more batters as Andy LaRoche and Lastings Milledge misplayed balls that would lead to another pair of runs.

Let's hope that extra frame doesn't come back to haunt Maholm's left arm down the road. He finished up with 95 pitches thrown in 3-1/3 frames.

And oddly enough, the Pirates could have escaped with no damage with a little luck. They had DP situations three times in the third and fourth innings, and got grounders. Two were chops that had to go to first, and the other was rolled through the hole for a single. When you're hot, you're hot...and when you're not, you're not.

The Bucs came back with two runs in the fourth on Garrett Jones' single to right. No diff; Brain Bass couldn't get the third out in the sixth, letting five consecutive Cards reach base with two away. DJ Carrasco came on to make it six when he beaned the next batter, making the score 11-2.

The Bucs tacked on a couple of more in the ninth, when a two-out Redbird boot was followed by three singles, making the final score 11-4. Ah well, le bonne temps couldn't last forever, especially when your staff walks eight, bops one, and can only whiff a pair after 205 pitches.

Tomorrow night features the return of Ross Ohlendorf, who hasn't pitched since April 7th, against Bronson Arroyo.

-- Looks like the Pirate pitching picture will be Ross Ohlendorf back, Brian Bass gone, Brian Burres as the fifth starter, and Jeff Karstens to the pen. We'll know for sure Monday.

-- The Bucco record going into this afternoon's game is 14-16. Its Pythagorean prediction is 8-22. The Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team's winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed, according to Baseball Reference. Developed by Bill James, it can tell you when teams were a bit lucky or unlucky. Apparently, the Pirates have a standard-issue rabbit's foot.

-- And as long as we're looking at geek stats, we thought we'd take a peek at Fan Graphs and compare the outfield the Pirates traded - Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, and Xavier Nady - against the one we have: Andrew McCutchen, Lastings Milledge, Garrett Jones, and Ryan Church.

Instead of crunching a zillion numbers, we decided to stick with the catch all Wins Above Replacement (WAR) value, or how many victories the players add or subtract from a team's performance weighed by both fielding and hitting production.

The Bucs 2010 WAR: McCutchen (+1.2); Jones (+0.4); Church (-0.2); and Milledge (-0.6). The current team total is +0.8, about a game better than average.

The Bye-Bye Bucs 2010 WAR: Nady (+0.1); Morgan (0); Bay (-0.1); and McLouth (-0.1). The traded guys are worth -0.1, just about average.

Now take these with a grain of salt. The season is young, the sample size small, and Bay is due for a hot streak while Nymo has been hurt. Still, the current snapshot makes Neal Huntington look a lot less clueless.

-- Brewers outfielder Jody Gerut hit for the cycle on Saturday, tallying a solo homer in the second inning, a bases-loading single in the third, an RBI triple in the fourth and a two-run double in the ninth.

Gerut was a Bucco from 2005-07, and was the return for Matt Lawton who was traded to the Cubs.

(GW and Will wish all the moms a happy and loving Mother's Day)

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