Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bucs Bullpen Bombed

Hey, the Bucs finally did it - they're last in the majors, and are eyeballing that number one pick next season. Oh, the Pirates tried. James McDonald did OK until the wheels fell off with two outs in the fifth, when he gave up four consecutive hits.

J-Mac is another starter who's getting OJT on the hill; his previous MLB background as a reliever doesn't help much once around the order.

Tonight, the Padres laid off his slow stuff when he couldn't get it over the dish consistently after the first go-around. He worked deep counts, and his fastball, as it did in his previous start, tailed off in velocity as the pitches mounted, from 95 to 91.

Still, he struck out six; he can miss bats. But 107 pitches and the inability to close out both innings and batters cost him; hopefully, he'll learn from this outing, the seventh of his MLB career.

McDonald single-handedly gift-wrapped the first run in the fourth. Attacking the infield shift, Adrian Gonzalez bunted for a hit when JM threw the ball away. Two outs later and still working on a goose egg, the righty uncorked a wild pitch to score Gonzalez from third.

In the fifth, he was a right fielder away from escaping. With two outs, a liner was hit directly at Ryan Doumit. Instead of coming in a couple of steps and gloving it, he froze and it fell in front of him.

It wasn't really his fault; the Pirate brass seem to feel that they can stick anyone in any position on the field at any time without any adverse effects; they do it time and time again - Dewey, Delwyn Young, Andy LaRoche...

Anyway, three hits later, it was 4-0 and the game was starting to slip away. After the fifth, it looked like lights out after Chan Ho Park gave up a three-spot, keyed by a two-run Jerry Hairston blast. The Steelers may come back from 7-0, but certainly not the Buccos.

These guys have a lot of flaws, but one thing that can be said so far this season is they don't lay down. Kevin Correia had retired fourteen Pirates in a row, but the Buccos finally got to him in the seventh.

Pedro had a strong at-bat to work a base-loaded walk. Dewey made amends for his MIA mitt by doubling home a pair, and a Chris Snyder bounce out made it 7-4.

Daniel McCutchen gave the club a jolt when he struck out the side in the seventh, and that act was followed by Neil Walker driving in Jose Tabata in the eighth to provide some drama. The curtain fell when Evan Meek gave the run back in the bottom half.

Storylines? Pretty easy - the Pirates had six hits, the Padres thirteen. The Pirate bullpen is bad; it gave up four runs in four innings. And James McDonald is only as good as his off-speed stuff; when it's on, he's on. And when it's not...

Zach Duke will face Jon Garland for this afternoon's get-away game.

-- Yesterday was the seventh consecutive game in which Pedro had an RBI. The last Pirate rookie to do that was Jay Bay in 2005. He's now got Frank Colman, who had eight straight in 1944 (he collected 106 RBI over a six year career), in his sights.

-- Ryan Doumit made his long-awaited start in right field tonight and hit sixth, taking Thrilledge's usual position. Pedro slid back to his customary fifth spot with the return of Garrett Jones to the lineup. Jones got a day off after starting 110 of the last 111 games.

-- Lastings Milledge has a nine game hitting streak going.

-- The MLB's most productive pinch-hitter since 2008? How about Delwyn Young, whose 40 pinch-hits lead the league over that three season span.

-- Scott McCauley of Indy tweets on Brandon Moss: "Since June 1st, Brandon Moss' line is .293/.359/.561 with 20 HR & his 66 RBI since June 1st lead ALL (MLB/MiLB) of baseball."

He'd be a heckuva lot cheaper than Dewey as a platoon OF'er, and hey - he can even catch the ball!

-- The VSL Pirates won the Venezuelan League title by sweeping the VSL Mariners 4-1 and 21-2 in a best-of-three championship. They also had the best regular season record; maybe Rene Gayo does know what he's doing.

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