Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Faces, Same Results

Ah, the new age Bucs got off to the same ol' start. Jose Tabata singled in his first MLB at-bat off the shortstop's glove, and Neil Walker got a gift single when he bunted and was called safe (he wasn't). But Andrew McCutchen whiffed, Garrett Jones popped out, Andy LaRoche worked a 3-2 walk, and Lastings Milledge fouled out to first to end the frame. Three stranded in the first ten minutes.

Not so for the Nats. After getting the first two outs on flies, he walked the next guy, and threw a heater down the middle to Adam Dunn. Well, we all know the end of that story; Dunn parked it into the right center seats. Another fly out ended the inning. A two-out walk didn't bite Washington, but it sure did Lincoln.

Lincoln collected a couple of firsts in the second inning; his first hit, a liner through the shortstop hole, and his first K against mound opponent John Lannan.

The Pirates fared better the second time around. With one away, McCutch walked and Jones singled, then they executed a double steal. Good thing, too - LaRoche bounced what would have been a routine DP ball to short, but it turned into an RBI.

Milledge and Ronny Cedeno came up with two out singles to plate another pair (the runners each moved up a base on plays to the plate; Nyjer Morgan's arm isn't any stronger in DC than it was in Pittsburgh), and suddenly it was 3-2 Buccos.

After Lincoln 1-2-3'ed the Nats, Tabata led off with a swinging bunt single, stole second, and came in on Walker's single. He stole second and went on to third on a wayward toss, but was stranded when Jones, with the infield in, struck out on a hanger and LaRoche bounced out. Lots of chances gone to waste so far for Pittsburgh.

The Nats got three in their half of the fourth, helped greatly by tough plays not made by the Pirates.

LaRoche had a hard shot go off his glove as he twisted away from it, Milledge missed a dying liner that he misread as it sliced slightly away from him, and a squib shot by the pitcher spun past Cedeno. They were all ruled hits, and all were catchable balls. And just as quickly, it was 5-4 Nats.

Pittsburgh came right back to tie it, featuring the good, bad, and ugly of Milledge. He led off with a double, then failed to tag on a blast to the right center field fence by Cedeno and then was almost was doubled off on a soft liner by Jason Jaramillo. But Lincoln helped his own cause by driving him in with a two-down hopper off the pitcher's knee that ricocheted into shallow left.

Lincoln left after six with a line of five runs, seven hits, two walks and three K's. It's obvious he's still a work in progress; his off speed stuff wasn't catching the plate often, and his heater caught too much of it. We'll see how he adjusts after riding the bike around the block a couple of times.

The ability to execute a little small ball separated the two teams in the seventh. Milledge led off with a single, and Cedeno on the hit-and-run flew out instead of putting it on the ground. Jaramillo followed with a DP roller. Reverse cedeno and Jaramillo's balls, and you have a run.

For the Nats, Christian Guzman led off with a single, was bunted to second, and scored when a ball cormed of DJ Carrasco's foot into right field, scoring the go-ahead run for Washington.

The Nats played bitty ball again in the eighth to add an insurance run. brendan Donnelly walked the first hitter, who was hit-and-run to third, and scored an out later when Donnelly threw an 0-2 pitch right down the middle and saw it turn into a sac fly. Matt Capps made it hold up in the ninth.

In spite of the five runs, twelve hits, five walks, and four stolen bases, the Pirates left twelve runners in scoring position. Wonder if we have anyone left at Indy who could help that stat...?

Two quick notes: Tabata left the game late, and the word was he had a hammy cramp, so he should be OK. That's good news; Tabata had two hits, a walk, a run, and stole a base in his debut. And Lastings Milledge looked pretty good in right field; three guys who can cover some acreage is a nice sight.

The Pirates official site lists Paul Maholm squaring off against Livan Hernandez tomorrow. Maybe the rotation is still in a bit of confusion, or maybe the Zachster is getting a little longer vacation than originally anticipated. Saturday and Sunday's pitchers for Pittsburgh against Detroit are TBA. Wait and see, eh?

-- With the mound shake up, Jeff Karstens will stay in the rotation and Dana Eveland goes to the pen. As reported earlier in the day, Jack Taschner was DFA'ed, so they're replacing a lefty with a lefty. And it doesn't look like Charlie Morton is a thought yet; he was rocked last night in Indy, and didn't make it through the fourth.

-- Now that the draft is done, eyes are turning to the trade market. Two Pirates whose names have been tossed out there are those of Ryan Doumit and Garrett Jones. GW stresses that they haven't been associated with any specific team, and it's not even known if the suits are shopping them, but be advised silly season is about to start...

And don't be surprised if Lastings Milledge, Andy LaRoche, and any number of bullpen arms are mentioned as part of the mix in the next couple of weeks when the rumors will really start to fly. Hey, what fun is June and July if the team isn't broken up?


WilliamJPellas said...

If they trade Jones, I'm going to find the highest building in the city and throw myself through the plate glass window on the top floor. It's not that he's great. It's that he's the only even close to legitimate middle of the order hitter we have or are likely to have until or unless Pedro Alvarez arrives and performs as expected (stay tuned on that point). No, Doumit doesn't count as a middle of the order hitter. I wouldn't be opposed to trading him and Duke to a contender, though it might be that they'd end up traded separately. That's because Doumit has "American League" written all over him, but Duke does not. Seriously: if he is struggling to keep his ERA under 5 in the National League, I shudder to contemplate the carnage that would ensue for him in the American League.

Ron Ieraci said...

Ah, no need to jump, Will. They're about ready to transition at long last. It may be a rocky road this year, but finally - if a couple of pitchers develop - they may look like a MLB team for a welcome change.