Start with a sweep, end up getting broomed. So much for the Bucs promising homestand, ending with another shutout at the hands of the Reds, 5-0.
Zach Duke never had it; he gave up five runs in five innings on nine hits, two that went yard. More worrisome is that GW never saw the PNC radar gun flash anything higher than 85 MPH on his pitches, and even for the Zachster, that's not good.
In fact, his heater has lost a couple of miles since 2008-09. He averaged 89 for those two years, but just 87 this year. It may be that there's a more basic problem with Duke and his arm; maybe the 398 innings are catching up to him.
But unless you're Walter Johnson, pitching behind the Pirate attack is enough to wear anybody down. They were shut out for the second day, this time by Homer Bailey. And like Johnny Cueto last night, it was his first career goose egg. In fact, it was the first MLB complete game for both guys.
It took Bailey just 90 tosses to dispatch the Bucs; seven of his nine innings took ten or fewer pitches to complete. He gave up four hits, and two of those runners were erased on DPs.
Awi Iwamura is in a 1-for-29 funk; maybe his pay rate is too rich to bench him, but how long can you lead off with him? Andy LaRoche was dropped down in the order; now he's trying to crank every high and tight heater into the stands again instead of being patient at the dish.
Hey, JR doesn't have much to work with, but he's got to give them some slim chance of succeeding. Try Milledge at leadoff and LaRoche second; try picking names out of a hat; do something. The same ol' isn't cutting it.
The Pirates have a day off to think about it; that may be good or bad. Then it's off to Wrigley, where Brian Burres takes on Tom Gorzelanny.
-- Ronny Cedeno was plunked in the left wrist last night, and it was heavily wrapped after the game, although he played all nine innings. He'll be off today with a bad bruise. We're sure that it was just a coincidence that he had the only hit and then got smacked with a pitch...
-- Hayden Penn was sprung from extended training and sent to Indy to join the rotation. His first start was last night and resulted in a ten inning, 7-5 loss; but he was competent. Penn went six innings and gave up three runs on eight hits with six K's and no walks. He threw 78 pitches, 55 for strikes, so that's a promising note.