Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bullpen, Boots, Boost Brew Crew

Hmmm...looks like a feast or famine night coming up for the Bucs; Jose Tabata homers to left in the first in between a couple of K's.

Looks like a feast for Milwaukee, though. A double, walk and hit batter loaded the sacks with nobody out for the Brew Crew. A grounder and single brought in a pair, and the Zachster was down 2-1.

The Pirates wanted in on the good times, too. In the second, a Pedro double, Dewey single, and Chris Snyder walk set the Bucs up. With two away, they were still crowding the sacks.

But McCutch drew a walk, JT got an infield single, helped greatly by a Snyder shield as he approached third, and the good guys were back on top 3-2. Duke got out of the second with just a two-out single.

Pedro singled with one away in the third and with two outs, Ronny Cedeno walked. Chris Snyder then put the wood on a hanging slider; he dropped a long fly over the left field wall, and Chris Capuano was in a world of hurt. The Zachster gave up a Prince Fielder homer in his half, but was still up comfortably 6-3.

The fourth and fifth rolled along. Duke gave up three more hits, but no runs, and Manny Parra, who came on in the fourth, held the Bucs to a knock. In the sixth. Parra kept Pittsburgh off the board; Duke gave up a homer to Jon Lucroy.

That brought on Sean Gallagher, who ended the inning without any further ado. Duke went 5-1/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits, a walk, a hit batter, and a K.

Mike McClendon came on for Parra, and was tagged for a Neil Walker homer. But the fun was just starting. SG gave up a single to Ryan Braun, and JR called on Brian Burres to take the ball as the LOOGY for Fielder. Some LOOGY; Fielder homered again.

That brought JR out again, and he waved in Chan Ho Park. Three batters, three pitchers.

Casey McGehee singled off him, but was forced at second on a bunt gone astray. While in the process of striking out Alcides Escobar, Park threw a wild pitch. Of course it came back to haunt the team; the tying run scored on a Pedro boot when a ball glanced off his leather. End of seven, 7-7.

Todd Coffey rode in for the eighth, and Pittsburgh had runners at first and second with an out against him on a Dewey single, bunt, and Snyder walk. But there they stayed. Joel Hanrahan had a Joel Hanrahan inning; he walked one and K'ed three.

The Pirates started off the ninth against John Axford with a Tabata double, and neither Walker nor Garrett Jones could move him up. Pedro drew a 3-2 walk, but Ryan Doumit went down swinging on three pitches.

JR sent Chris Resop in to work the ninth, apparently holding back Evan Meek as his closing hammer. He struck out McGehee looking, got Lorenzo Cain on a grounder to short, and nailed Escobar on a fly to center. It's extra innings again in Miller Park.

Trevor Hoffman took the hill in the tenth; he got the Bucs 1-2-3. Wil Ledezema took the mound in the tenth. With one out, Craig Counsell dropped a single into right center. No problem; WL got Ricky Weeks to pop out and K'ed Corey hart.

Kameron Loe took the stroll from the pen to pitch the eleventh. He got the first two hitters easily, and Walker then singled to right. Jones, the only Pirate starter not to reach base, kept his line intact at 0-for-6 when he struck out swinging on a fastball that was well outside.

Well, only two arms left for JR to choose from, with Braun-Fielder-McGehee due up. And he picked neither Meek nor Daniel McCutchen; he kept Ledezema in, presumably to face Fielder.

Braun singled to center to start of the eleventh. He got Prince to hit one to Walker; he booted it. Instead of the bases empty and two away, it was rug-cutting time. McGehee flew out to the track in left; Braun didn't advance. No need to; Cain singled him home on a ball lined into the left field corner.

The question, aside from the fact that the Bucco gloves let them down again, is why JR let his two righties, particularly Meek, sit in the pen after Fielder got aboard. Probably thinking down the road again.

We understand that he trotted out seven pitchers tonight, and six of them had ERA's over 5, so there's not a lot to work with. But hey, when the game's on the line, shouldn't your top gun be on the mound?

Charlie Morton gets the nod against Dave Bush tomorrow afternoon.

-- Charlie Morton, as expected, got the call to start tomorrow. He made 14 starts for Indianapolis, posting a 4-4 mark with a 3.83 ERA. In 80 innings of work, Morton recorded 53 strikeouts against 30 walks.

LHP Justin Thomas was sent back down to clear space for Morton.

-- The Pirate road losing streak is now at an even dozen. Their performance away from PNC is one of the most mystifying aspects of the season.

-- If post All-Star break performance is any indication, the Pirates are going to have to seriously consider a platoon at first in 2011. Garrett Jones has hit under .200 since then (and is 25 points worse against lefties in his splits), but still has some power and is under team control until he hits social security. But that's quite a hole he's creating in the middle of the lineup, especially with Pedro in the doldrums, too.

If the suits don't think Steve Pearce is the answer - and we think for the short term he probably is - they better find a RH first baseman to take some of the load off Jones.

-- Even the Pirates haven't tried this one: the Brew Crew gave out Miller Lite beer vendor bobbleheads tonight. Cute little guys; a long neck bottle with arms, a tray of suds, and a Brewer cap.

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