Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pirates Broomed Aside By Cards

Man, those St. Louis guys can't start anything on time. Hey, I guess four or five minutes is plenty close after the last couple of days.

The delay didn't bother the Bucs; Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata led off the game with singles; Tabata now has a 12 game hitting streak. Walker tried to move the guys up with a bunt, and the ball bounced up and hit him. He was called out for batter's interference.

It proved immaterial when Garrett Jones and Pedro struck out swinging, Alvarez on a 3-2 sinker that was a half foot off the plate. Zach Duke got the Cards 1-2-3, despite an extended at-bat by Albert Pujols.

Lastings Milledge got the second off to a booming start with a triple to center, and Ronny Cedeno plated him with a two-strike rap into right through a drawn-in infield. Any thoughts of a bigger inning dissipated when Jason Jaramillo rolled over on a pitch that was high and away and tapped into a 1-6-3 DP.

In the bottom of the third, Brendan Ryan led off with a double to left center. After failing to bunt twice, Adam Wainwright hit a weak grounder to short to move Ryan to the hot corner, and Aaron Miles hit a sac fly to center to tie the game. It's automatic for the Redbirds; leadoff double, move him to third, sac fly.

The Pirates put runners on the corners with two away in the fifth, when JJ singled and NcCutch reached on a Ryan boot, but Tabata bounced to short on a 3-2 pitch.

In the Card half, Rasmus started off with a double when his ball deflected off Walker's glove and died in short right. Ryan bunted for a basehit, both moving the runner up and making life easier for LaRussa, with his pitcher up and no outs.

Not that he had to worry. Wainwright golfed an 0-2 curve that was ankle high but over the middle of the plate and dropped it into center, keeping runners on the corners with no outs. Miles lined one up the middle, and the game was turning.

Duke stopped some of the bleeding when he got Lopez to bounce a changeup to Walker, who got the out at second himself and completed the 4-3 DP. But Jon Jay followed with an infield single, and it was 4-1. Pujols homered, and it was 6-1.

Milledge gave the home town fans a jolt with two outs in the sixth and Pedro on first, but his drive to left was hauled in at the wall; he's the only guy that's been able to square up against Wainwright today.

Justin Thomas got the ball in the sixth. Rasmus got a one out single, but was nailed try to steal second - and that's been a common occurrence since Dewey's gone on the DL; maybe the staff isn't to blame - and it's a good thing, as Ryan and Wainwright both followed with singles. But JT got out of it unharmed.

In the seventh, it was apparent that even the umps wanted to go home. Cedeno was called out on a 3-2 pitch off the plate, and Andy LaRoche was rung up at first even though Pujol's foot was nowhere near the sack after fielding a one-hop throw. That's how much respect the Pirates have around the league; even the umps ho-hum them.

Thomas left after his inning, his ERA now down to single digits. Sean Gallagher pitched a clean seventh.

Jason Motte started the eighth; he struck out McCutch and gave up a single to Tabata. With a five run lead, LaRussa was taking no chances; he called for lefty Dennys Reyes, to turn Walker around and match up with Jones and Pedro. LaRussa isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the dude doesn't miss a trick managing and is always thinking three moves ahead of the game.

Reyes did his job. He walked the Pittsburgh Kid, and then got the lefty tandem to fly out to short right and K looking. For Pedro, that's 54 strikeouts in 144 AB's; let's hope his adjustment period for sliders down and away is just over the horizon.

Steve Jackson took the hill in the eighth. He gave up three runs, beginning with a leadoff homer and ending with a bases-loaded walk and not much noteworthy in between. If this is the new-look bullpen, the Bucs are in for a long couple of months.

The Bucs loaded the bases in the ninth - Argenis Diaz collected his first MLB hit - but McCutch hit into a 6-4-3 DP to put an end to it. Final score 9-1, St. Louis.

The same old story - when opportunity knocks, the other guys welcome it with wide open arms. And once again, the bottom of the order tortured the Pirates (the 7-8-9 hitters for the Cards had eight hits and a walk), and four runs scored with two outs. When the Bucs get a chance, it's 6-4-3 and done.

Worse, the ends of the last two games had a little league feel to them. The Cards ran station-to-station so not to run up the score, and there were pinch-hitters and defensive replacements galore to get everyone in the game. Heck, LaRussa even sent up a pinch-hitter for Albert Pujols with the bases loaded, it was so out of hand.

It reminded GW of the 12 year-olds playing the 10 year-olds at the neighborhood ballyard. And Pittsburgh played like the ten year-olds.

The Bucs return home to face the Reds tomorrow night, when Ohlie takes on Travis Wood.

-- An odd stat: going into today's game, the Cardinals are 0-8 in the third game of a three-game series after winning the first two. They broke that streak today.

-- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that "The Phillies released Chris Duffy from triple-A Lehigh Valley." Could be the end of the road for the 30 year-old one-time hot Pirate prospect.


WilliamJPellas said...

This team is so gawdawful bad. And it ain't gonna get any better until and unless some decent starting pitching is added. The bullpen will need at least minor reinforcing after this year's deadline trades. Let's hope Huntington does as well in that regard as he did last offseason.

Ron Ieraci said...

Will, they still need more help than pitching, tho that is #1 & 2 on the list. They need a righty with muscle to break up Pedro and Jones, PNC or not, among other items. But they do have some pieces now; we'll see what the suits do in the winter.