Monday, May 17, 2010

No Brotherly Love Tonight

Well, what did you expect? Charlie Morton may yet turn into a swan, but he was an ugly duckling again tonight as he gave up five runs in the third inning to start the Phillies on the road to a 12-2 win.

Morton went four frames and gave up six runs on six hits, the big blow being a two out, full count, three run blast by Jason Werth. Morton gave up a five spot that inning, all with two out. He always seems to have that one inning, and a season's worth of those frames is why he's 1-7 with a 9.68 ERA.

More amazingly, he gave up six hits, and all six guys scored. This year, he's allowed 67 runners (not counting errors) and 42 have scored, or 63%; he only strands 1/3 of his runners. Last year, he was much better, keeping 71% of the runners on the bases. For comparison, this year Zach Duke has left 69% of his runners on the sacks, and Paul Maholm 71%, much like Morton's 2009 rate.

Maybe his problem is something mechanical working out of the stretch, or maybe he doesn't have confidence in spotting an out pitch. With a 95 MPH heater and a 12-to-6 curve with two other pitches to show, he has the tools, but not the execution. And the Pirates badly need a top end starter, which he potentially is.

Jack Taschner added a little insult to self-inflicted injury when with two away in the eighth, he gave up a single, and then walked the next two guys to juice the bases for Ryan Howard. Howard unjuiced them in a hurry when he drove a 2-1 pitch into downtown Philadelphia to provide the final margin.

Nine of Philly's dozen runs came with two away; Howard drove in six of them. He and Werth had ten RBI batting fourth and fifth. The top three Phils in the order got on seven times and scored seven times.

Not that the Pirates were up to slugging it out anyway. The lineup collected five hits, two by Ryan Doumit, with a homer added in by Delwyn Young, who drove in both runs. His dinger was during his first at-bat; it was his first leading off a game, and the Pirates only moment of glory.

Heck, we can't even say they played the field well. Andrew McCutchen dropped a can of corn in center that plated a run.

But don't worry. Our stopper, Zach Duke, takes the hill tomorrow against some American League retread by the name of Roy Halladay. He's just 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA. We got 'em right where we want 'em.

-- The Pirates have dropped six straight and 11 of their past 12 games at Citizens Bank Park. Road warriors the Buccos ain't. In fact, JR's team has yet to finish a road trip with a winning record.

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