Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Soriano Outscores Pirates

In the first, the two run-challenged teams tried to stage two-out rallies; both fizzled after a pair of singles. But the Cubs drew first blood in the second when Koyie Hill stroked a high heater off the plate the opposite way into the left field corner for a double, moved to third on Dewey's passed ball, and scored on a sac fly.

Ted Lilly was putting on a clinic over the first three frames; he threw first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 11 hitters he faced, and was credited with an amazing 29 strikes out of 34 tosses. Jeff Karstens wasn't far behind; 9 of his first 12 batters were started off with strikes, and he threw 32 strikes out of 41 pitches.

The futility continued; Garrett Jones singled, but was caught trying to go to second on a ball in the dirt. Lastings Milledge walked afterward, but a Pedro fly to center ended the action.

With two away in the fourth, Karstens saw a first-pitch curve jerked into the left center field seats by Alfonso Soriano; that's Karstens' curse, his twelfth dinger surrendered in 65 innings. Hill followed with another double on a first pitch heater. After an intentional walk, he got Lilly to pop out. It was 2-0 Cubbies after four.

Dewey got one back in the fifth when he pulled one up the line on a 3-2 pitch for his seventh of the year; Cedeno tried to match him, but flew out deep to right center. Lilly got Karstens and Jose Tabata routinely, but the Bucs were at least on the board, down 2-1.

Soriano made up for that with two away in the sixth, when he pulled Karstens' high cutter on the inside half of the plate into the left field stands, his second long ball of the game, making it 3-1.

The Pirates banged the ball around a little in the seventh. Pedro got a one-out single to the shortstop hole, and Ryan Doumit doubled into the left field corner to put runners at second and third.

But Cedeno popped out on the first pitch, an inside heater, and pinch hitter Ryan Church (.175) whiffed, swinging at balls Manny Sanguillen couldn't hit.

How many guys have been stranded at third this year with less than two outs? With Bobby Crosby and Neil Walker out, JR's hands are tied in the late innings; he only has a three man bench to work with. Crosby may return tomorrow; it'll still be a couple of days before Walker's status is determined.

For Karstens, it was a line of six innings, three runs (two earned), seven hits, one walk (intentional) and two K's.

Javier Lopez came on. He gave up a double to Starlin Castro on a ball hit to left center, then got Xavier Nady and Kosuke Fukudome. JR went for the righty-righty matchup, and brought in Brendan Donnelly to face Ryan Theriot. He walked him in a hard fought, eleven-pitch at-bat, but came back to strike out Derrek Lee.

Ted Lilly went seven innings, giving up a run on six hits, a walk, and five strikeouts. Sean Marshall replaced him in the eighth. He gave up a one-out single to Andy LaRoche, but McCutch pounded a down Broadway heater to second for a 4-6-3 DP.

DJ Carrasco held the fort. No matter. Carlos Marmol blew the Bucs away in the ninth, ending the game by striking out Pedro, who swung and missed two pitches he couldn't have hit with sand wedge. And the beat goes on.

Brad Lincoln goes against Tom Gorzelanny tomorrow afternoon, an interesting contrast of Pittsburgh's next big thing vs. one of its past big things.

-- Today was the first appearance at Wrigley Field for Brendan Donnelly. He's pitched in 32 ballparks during his seven-year career; make it 33 now.

-- Zach Duke is expected to miss another pair of starts with a stiff elbow. That puts his return date on July 11th or so. Daniel McCutchen is still here, so it looks like he'll get at least the next spot.

The Pirates seem content to leave Charlie Morton in Indy until he proves his success is repeatable, a pretty sound idea. CM had a rough outing tonight, working three innings and giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits with three walks and three K's.

-- The dismal Pirate record has been a combination of several things, with fielding high on the list. They have committed errors in six of their past seven games, are second in the NL in errors, and last in double plays turned.

-- The Pirates are one of two teams in MLB without a complete game in 2010; the other is the LA Dodgers. Paul Maholm's eight inning outing yesterday was the Bucs' longest stint of the year.

-- Has anyone noticed how much the Pirate attack has sputtered since Neil Walker went down?

-- The Pirates are in a quandary with Steve Pearce. He's tearing it up at Indy, but Garrett Jones and Lastings Milledge are now the everyday tandem, so there's no place to put Pearce when he returns. We wonder if they're trying to build his value in AAA. We'll see soon; his rehab is up July 4th, but he still has an option.

-- Five Altoona Curve players made the Eastern League All-Star roster. They are catcher Hector Gimenez (.324, 11/40), first baseman Matt Hague (.299, 6/43), infielder Josh Harrison (.313, 1/41), right-handed pitcher Derek Hankins (5-1, 1.60) and left-handed pitcher Rudy Owens (7-3, 2.74).

-- LHP Jack Taschner, who opted for free agency earlier this month after being DFA'ed by the Pirates, signed with the Dodgers and been assigned to AAA Albuquerque.

-- Ramon Vazquez got chopped by Seattle; now he's Astro's property, playing for AAA Round Rock.

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