No deep analysis required tonight. The Bucs made a little early noise against Tim Hudson, then he went on cruise control after the second, while Ross Ohlendorf couldn't get through the fourth. The result was an easy 7-0 victory by the red hot Braves.
To blame the pitching is easy. But it's hard to throw when your margin for error is as slim as it is with the Pirate offense. They've now gone seventeen innings without scoring, and the lack of a big bopper or three combined with a team BA of .237 is a recipe for defeat.
They plugged Garrett Jones into cleanup, brought up Jeff Clement to play first, and dealt for Aki Iwamura just so they had some guys that could drop balls over the Clemente fence, yet only nine of their 30 homers have come at PNC.
Clement and Iwamura have been disastrous to date, and Jones has seen his fly ball/ground ball percentage flop from 41-40 in 2009 to 33-48 this year. It's not a good sign when your four hitter pounds more worm burners than balls in the air; there's not been very many ground ball homers hit this year.
They're not alone in hitting woes. The Pirates OBP is down from even last season's, and without runners on, the long ball loses a lot of its luster. The team line so far this season is a .237 BA, .307 OBP, and .356 Slugging %; the NL averages are .257/.331/.404.
That the team is 18-24 is misleading; their Pythagorean slate, based on runs scored and yielded, has them at 11-31.
Another ten days, and we expect the welcome wagon to start arriving from Indy. Some people want the parade to start now, but hey - these guys are no threat this year, so why start the clock early? By All-Star break, we'll start to see the 2011 roster take shape.
Charlie Morton will start Saturday against his old teammates, squaring off against Derek Lowe.
-- Atlanta is sizzlin'. The Braves have won five in a row and nine of their past eleven games.
-- Aki Iwamura can pinch-hit, but can't run. Seems to GW like the pair go hand in hand. He struck out as a pinch hitter tonight, solving the problem. But if he doesn't get his hammy untweaked real soon, a trip to the DL may be in the cards, according to JR.
-- Talk about hot and cold: Octavio Dotel hasn't given up a run in eight straight appearances. Before that, he had been scored on in six straight games.
-- Baseball Prospectus has figured out the odds of teams making the 2010 playoffs. The Pirates are given a one-third of a percent chance *ouch* And that's better than the odds for the Astros or O's!