Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pittsburgh Holds On

My apologies to the crew at St. Louis; at least it rained when they had a rain delay. Pittsburgh had a cloudy delay *sigh*. The first non-rain delay pushed back the start to 7:55. And at 7:55, with the pitchers warmed up and everyone ready to go, they rolled the tarp back out. The tarp came off at 8:15, the new game time was 8:30.

Paul Maholm should be sharp; after all, he got to warm up twice. But he wasn't, giving up a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips and a one out walk. But he got Scott Rolen to spank one sharply to Pedro, and the 5-4-3 DP ended the frame.

The Bucs took advantage of some Cincy sloppiness and a couple of two-out knocks to put up a six spot in the second. With one out, Pedro walked, and that was followed by a Lastings Milledge double, a one hop chop Rolen tried to backhand that stayed down.

Chris Snyder singled them both home, and Maholm slapped one into right. McCutch took some high heat on the back of the neck, just under the helmet. He went down, and left the field wobbling between two teammates, looking like a Mike Tyson victim. But the docs say he suffered a contusion, and he'll be day-to-day; there were no concussion symptoms.

Jose Tabata followed with a single to left, scoring a run and keeping the bases juiced. Neil Walker then banged a pitch right down the middle high off the Clemente Wall, to send them all home. Nothin' better than clutch two-out raps.

Garrett Jones, the tenth batter, got to join a long and dubious list of guys who made the first and last out of an inning. But it was 6-0, so we think he'll get over it.

Maholm came out and pitched a strong inning with the lead and evened the ledger by plunking Mike Leake (on the knee, not the noggin). It would have started a riot with the Brewers, but Leake took his medicine and just jogged to first.

The Reds got on the board in the fourth thanks to a ball that wouldn't stick in a glove and another that did. Miguel Cairo singled when a diving Milledge got his mitt on the ball, but had it clank out.

An out and walk later, Jay Bruce hit a one hopper to Jones; he double clutched his throw when the horsehide stuck in his leather, and the Bucs could only get the lead runner instead of an inning-ending DP. Chris Heisey followed with a dink into right, beyond Walker and in front of Delwyn Young, to plate the run.

Pittsburgh got it back in the fifth when Tabata's swinging bunt was fielded by Leake, who threw it off-balanced into right, sending JT to third. Walker smacked a pitch up the middle for his fourth RBI of the night, his career high.

Cincinnati kept chipping away. In the sixth, with two on and two out, back-to-back singles by Heisey and Ramon Hernandez cut the lead to 7-3.

The Reds made it interesting in the seventh. Phillips doubled to left center on a ball that Tabata appeared to misread a bit, and then Paul Janish lined a single to left. Milledge missed the cutoff man badly - the ball should have went straight to second in any case - and there were runners on second and third with no outs.

JR gave Maholm the hook; Evan Meek came in. He did well enough; a grounder to first scored a run, but a shot to third and a K froze the second Red at third base, making up for LM's mental error.

Maholm went six innings, charged with four runs on nine hits with two walks and K's on 90 pitches, not an especially strong outing for the lefty.

The Bucs left a couple of guys on in their half, one being Meek, who got his first MLB hit. And as Bob Walk of FSN pointed out, it may be his only hit for as much as back-end relievers get to bat.

Meek went an inning too long, though. He walked a pair of runners, one with two outs, and Phillips drove a ball to the right center field wall, scoring them both and making it a 7-6 game. After an intentional walk to Joey Votto, he got Cairo to pop out.

Meek went two innings, giving up two runs on one hit, three walks, and K'ing a pair. He also threw a season-high fifty pitches.

The Bucs tried to add some insurance in the eighth when with two outs Snyder walked and Cedeno singled, but Jeff Clements grounded out to first. Time to check out the brave new world of Joel Hanrahan, closer.

The first at-bat wasn't so promising; Rolen lined a slider into left for a leadoff single. But after that, it was vintage Hanrahan - Gomes popped out to Pedro in foul territory, followed by whiffs of Bruce and Heisey.

Some things to take from tonight's game: the Pirates had best learn to add on runs; the pitchers have to develop a mindset to go seven innings instead of six, and JR has to figure out who his bridge man will be; he can't use two guys to cover three innings on a regular basis. Oh, and Hanrahan looks fine as the go-to guy in the pen.

Already, McCutch will be out tomorrow, and probably the same for Meek, who threw fifty balls. Someone in the pen is going to have to step up and claim that seventh inning spot.

Tomorrow afternoon's get-away game will match Jeff Karstens against Johnny Cueto.

-- Let's see...John Bowker, lefty. Andrew Lambo, lefty. Jeff Clement, lefty. Brandon Moss, lefty. Maybe the Pirate suits should quit looking at Clemente Wall and start looking at some balance. It'll be a chore next year to work all these guys into the mix, especially as all but Lambo are out of options.

-- McCutch was given the "Heart and Hustle" Award tonight, voted on by the Pirate alumni. His parents were in the stands to see him get the honor; too bad they also had to see their son beaned, too.

-- This year's Pirate ironman award goes to Garrett Jones, who has played 104-of-105 games so far. He did take May 1st off, though, so he should be good to go the rest of the season.

-- After the deadline dealing, the average age of the Bucs is 26.3 years old, making them the youngest team in the NL.

-- State College OF Cole White has been named the New York-Penn League's Player of the Week. White, 22, who recently rejoined the Spikes after a two-year stint in the Army, went 9-for-16 with a homer and seven RBI in five games.


WilliamJPellas said...

Reading between the lines, Ron, I'd say you're less than enamored of Pedro's defense at third. That makes two of us. In fact, this team as a whole is dreadful with the glove, though if Ryan Doumit is done as the regular catcher, that alone will help tremendously.

Looking back, you could usually say two things about the teams that Dave Littlefield put on the field most year. One, they could play good defense. Two, there was almost always a good bullpen. By themselves, those two factors aren't going to get you to the playoffs. But the Neal Huntington Pirates have been consistently terrible with the glove, and until this season their bullpens have been nonexistent. (I won't even go into the starting pitching in this little diatribe. Obviously it's been horrendous.)

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, and it's a pity too, Will, the kid's got a rifle but plays like he's stuck in mud.

I'm not too down on the D; Cedeno and Walker are OK and the outfield is quite good. I'll take a stick at the corners over a glove any day.

Starting pitching has sucked and I still think it'll take until 2012 to straighten out. They just missed on too many guys they thought were can't miss.

As for the pen, they've consistently tinkered with it, and that will be their MO, I guess, so get used to it.