Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maybe They Should Trade The Whole Team

Alright, already! The storm cost us a couple of hours yesterday, now the Whitey Herzog celebration is threatening to run just as long. Let's play some ball here.

OK. McCutch grounded out, but Jose Tabata lined a single into right and Neil Walker poked a changeup into left for a knock.

Garrett Jones was up; he hit a little pop off the handle short of the mound that Yadier Molina caught, then dropped, and turned into a DP when his throw to first beat a befuddled Walker to the bag as the umps belatedly ruled it an infield fly. It was an omen of things to come.

Instead of bases loaded and one out, it ended the inning. The mass confusion didn't faze D-Cutch; he threw a 1-2-3 frame without a ball leaving the infield. Jeff Suppan matched him in the second.

McCutchen became his own worst enemy in the second. He walked Matt Holliday on five pitches, got a fly out, and then gave up a single on a 3-1 pitch. He walked Skip Schumaker on four pitches. That was followed by a RBI line drive single by Suppan, his first ribbie of the year. But McC escaped with only a run when Brendan Ryan rolled into a 6-4-3 DP. No wonder LaRussa bats the pitcher eighth.

With two away in the third, McCutch and Tabata lined singles to set up Walker, who fished for a pair of slow curves, fouling one off and bouncing the next to second; both were shin high.

McCutchen started off the third with a ten-pitch walk to Felipe Lopez, losing him on a borderline call. An out later, he picked off Lopez; good thing, too, as Sir Albert lined a knock into center. He finished the inning by getting Doc Holliday on a routine fly to center.

The Pirates may have hit a new low in the fourth, when Jones, Pedro, and Lastings Milledge all struck out swinging against Suppan, flailing away at changeups and curves as if they were never before seen pitches. That's 5 K's so far for Suppan, matching his season high - in four frames!

For the third straight inning, McCutchen walked the leadoff hitter; this time it was Colby Rasmus, who promptly stole second. Schumaker walked on five pitches with one out, and a Suppan bunt was thrown away by Jones trying for the lead runner, plating a run. D-McCutch got the next pair on flies, and it was 2-0. The error hurt, but without the walks...

Suppan, coming into the game with an 0-6 record and 6.18 ERA, mowed down the Bucs again in the fifth; he had a four hit shutout going.

And hey, McCutchen got the first batter out this inning. But he fell behind Albert Pujols 2-0, came in with a fastball, and watched it clear the right center field fence, 390' away. That's the eleventh his given up this year, in 32-2/3 innings - one every three innings.

But Suppan couldn't go on forever; even LaRussa knew it. In the sixth, after a leadoff double by McCutch and a bounce out by Tabata that advanced him to third, lefty Denny Reyes came in to face Walker. He popped out - all together now "runner on third and less than two out..." - and Jones grounded out to short.

Molina tarted off the sixth with a ground rule double on a short ball hit up the right field line that bounced over the railing. Schumaker, after fouling off a couple of bunts (a sure sign Reyes was being pinch hit for) rolled a grounder to second to get the runner to third.

Pinch hitter Randy Winn walked on five pitches. Ryan, a .202 hitter, popped a 3-2 pitch deep into left center for a sac fly - leadoff double, grounder to the right side, sac fly. Read 'em and weep, Pirates.

Lopez singled into left, and Steve Jackson came on to get the last out on a K. McCutchen went 5-2/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits, six walks, and a K.

He deserves credit for not allowing a big inning, but his command was terrible, and he went through the game as a fastball-changeup pitcher; the few times he went to his slider, it missed the plate - as did most of his other offerings.

He let the leadoff runner on four of his six frames, and the walks were brutal. Usually aggressive, it appeared tonight that he was changed tacks and tried to live on the black. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

The Pirates went down in order to Kyle McClellan, with Pedro and LM striking out. This inning was especially embarrassing. Pedro looked at three straight strikes without taking the bat off his shoulder, and Thrilledge took the first two for strikes and whiffed on a breaking ball in the dirt.

Pujols started off the seventh with a single off Pedro's glove, his third hit. He jogged in a batter later when Rasmus roped a homer off Jackson over the 375' in right center, his 17th. Molina followed with a single; it was his third hit, too. Jackson worked his way out, but it was 6-0, and the fat lady was gurgling.

Whatever Pedro and LM have must be contagious; Kratz struck out for the second time, watching the first two strikes sail by, with Mitchell Boggs on the hill. You're allowed more than one swing, guys.

Though that's all it takes. Jeff Clement pinch hit, and took a 97 MPH heater over the right center wall, the first Pirate run of the series. A two out Tabata single brought out LaRussa and his hook; lefty Trever Miller was called on to face Walker.

He walked him, but got Jones on a foul pop to the catcher. Wil Ledezema worked the eighth for Pittsburgh. He had a great start, too - Ronny Cedeno threw away a ball that went for a single and error.

Lopez was given three belt high heaters and sent the third into center to put runners on the corners - on an 0-2 pitch. Ledezema got ahead of sub Tyler Greene 0-2, and then threw him four straight balls to juice the sacks for Pujols.

Ledezema got him to pop out; even Albert strands runners on rare occasion. Doc Holliday picked him up by rifling a double to right on a heater down the middle and above the belt, and Rasmus followed with an RBI single to center. JR took the ball from him and gave it to Sean Gallagher.

He walked Molina to load the bases again. He fell behind Schmaker 3-0, and two pitches later gave up a two run single. If you're still keeping score, that makes it 11-1; the fat lady is beginning to nod off.

SG got Aaron Miles to fly out, the Ryan singled to load the bases for the third time in the inning. But mercifully, Gallagher got Lopez to ground out to short on a 3-2 pitch.

Mike MacDougal came in to finish the game; he's the sixth pitcher LaRussa used in an 11-1 game. And of the five after Suppan, none had an ERA of over 3.42. That's a bullpen. McD gave up an infield hit to Cedeno with two away, and then K'd Kratz to end it.

Tonight was a complete embarrassment. St. Louis had 15 hits and drew 8 walks. The Pirates couldn't catch a cold, and were undisciplined as little leaguers at the plate, falling behind in the count and striking out nine times. Let's hope it's a hangover from deadline day.

Zach Duke goes against Adam Wainwright tomorrow afternoon.

-- Jose Tabata extended his hitting streak to eleven games with tonight's first inning single.

-- The Pirates traded three relievers, and played today two arms short in the pen only because Steve Jackson is still around. James McDonald is supposed to start his Bucco career in the pen, too, so that leaves one hole to fill.

-- The Pirates will send Ryan Doumit to his rehab assignment Monday and activate him from the DL on Friday. Here's what he had to say about the Chris Snyder trade:

"I think I'm an everyday player. I expect to play and I want to play every day." - to Rob Biertempfel, Tribune Review.
"I was shocked, obviously. I didn't know how to interpret it." - to Dejan Kovacevic, Post Gazette.
"I was surprised. I didn’t know what to think of that. That's about it." - to Jen Langosch,

-- Talk about a pro: DJ Carrasco, who lobbied to get traded to a contender, was instead sent to last-place Arizona. Rather than pout, he hopped a jet and was in uniform tonight. The two guys the Pirates traded for, Chris Snyder and James McDonald, aren't expected to report until tomorrow or Monday.


WilliamJPellas said...

So, Doumit was "shocked". Some guys just don't get it. Doumit is obviously one of them.

I hate to see our 'pen chopped down a few pegs, but hopefully Meek and Hanrahan will stay healthy over the next couple of years and Huntington adds a couple more cheap, effective arms next offseason. Dotel wasn't going to be part of the future here, so no problem trading him. Honestly I was more sad to see Lopez go, given how hard it's been for this team to find any kind of halfway serviceable lefties for the 'pen since the current regime took over.

Ron Ieraci said...

I was sorta surprised at Dewey's reaction myself, Will. I thought he'd recognize his O has been mediocre and his D atrocious. Self image and reality aren't always the same.

Lefties are worrisome; from what I've seen, Ledezema and Thomas both keep the ball up too much and Moskos is having a tough time at Indy. But when (and if) the team is competitive, maybe they'll keep the gang together.

My only red flag in emptying the bullpen is that I think the guys learned something from the vets; it kinda hurts the teaching cycle to not have any gray hairs around.