Boy, Atlanta looked a lot like Pittsburgh today. Paul Maholm went six innings, threw 113 pitches, gave up ten hits and three walks, and still only surrendered two runs, without so much as a single DP turned behind him. He stranded ten, eight in scoring position. No wonder Bobby Cox is ready to hang 'em up.
But hey, this is the Bucs we're talking about. They were, with all that, down 2-0, having managed just three hits off winless Kenshin Kawakami. In the seventh, they finally made some noise. Garrett Jones worked KK for an eight pitch walk to lead off, and Jeff Clement took a first pitch fastball deep into right center to tie the match.
Joel Hanrahan came on, and had the heat today. He was throwing 96-98, and ten of his twelve pitches were number ones. Why not? Tahashi Saito must have been watching; he threw his heater almost exclusively too, and though it was clocked at 91-92, he struck out Andy LaRoche and Andrew McCutchen swinging; Neil Walker was the only one to put it in play when he lofted a deep fly to left.
Hanrahan continued to bring the heat, but a one out walk to Nate McLouth would haunt him after McLouth got the call on a borderline 3-2 pitch. He walked Brian McCann, starting him off with a pitchout and then a pitch so far out it was probably a semi pitchout (McLouth stole second anyway), and Chipper Jones brought him in with two away on a soft pop to left that Ronny Cedeno couldn't run down.
Javier Lopez came in and gave up a triple to Jason Heyward to make it 5-2, and the fat lady was singin'. All with two outs, set up by an umps iffy call and a quail. But when you can't score, every little break that goes against you is a mountain to climb.
The Pirates have lost five in a row, and 6-of-7 on the short road trip. Maybe some home cookin' is in order; it sure can't hurt.
Ross Ohlendorf will start on Memorial Day, and Randy Wells will get the nod for Chicago, replacing Carlos Zambrano who was briefly hospitalized earlier in the week with appendicitis-like symptoms.
-- The Bucs started an interesting, and well shaken, lineup this afternoon. McCutchen hit leadoff, Young batted third, Cedeno was jumped up to sixth, and Iwamura dropped to eighth.
Some of it is due to get-away day maneuvers, but maybe JR is finally using performance instead of potential as a batting order criteria. Then again, he may just be picking out of a hat too, for all it seems to matter. The Pirates have been held to three runs or less 21 times in 28 May games.
-- The Bucs have scored 63 runs in their 31 losses; that's just two runs scored per defeat. There should be a lot of guys looking over their shoulders when the first week of June rolls around. And shortly after the draft concludes on June 9th, expect some wheelin' and dealin' to create roster spots and playing time for the boys from Indy.