Friday, September 17, 2010

Home Sweet Home

OK, BB. Brian Burres had a nice easy first frame - a pop out, Chris Young single, and nice, neat 4-6-3 DP. The Bucs faced Ian Kennedy for the first time; with two away, Neil Walker broke out of his mini-funk and pounded his eleventh long fly over the Clemente Wall; welcome home, Pittsburgh.

Burres kept on with a 1-2-3 second; ditto for the Bucs. Pedro clanked a ball by Rusty Ryal to start the third; Gerardo Parra (yes, the eight hitter, grrr!) doubled him home when Bowker let the single past him. Kennedy bunted Parra to third, and Stephen Drew singled him in with a grounder to right. A boot and the bottom of the order put the D-Backs up 2-1. Pittsburgh went down in order.

BB regained his mojo in the fourth, putting down Arizona. Walker singled, and was quickly erased on a Jones' 4-6-3 DP. Pedro followed with another single, and Bowker flew out to end the frame.

Arizona went down in order in the fifth; that's eight in a row for Burres. Ronny Cedeno blooped a one-out single and went to second on a passed ball; Burres K'ed. Funny, JR will have a top of the order guy bunt with a runner on second, but not the pitcher. It became a moot point when JT doubled into the RF corner to tie the game.

Drew doubled to start the sixth, ending BB's streak. Young reached on a bunt pushed along the first base side to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Burres got a big K on Kelly Johnson. Then Young got picked off first and Adam LaRoche K'ed; nice job of managing an unmanageable situation. The Bucs couldn't build on the momentum and went down quietly.

With one away, Miguel Montero took a pretty good 0-2 curve that may have just caught the outside black and nearly knocked it out of the yard, settling for a double. A swinging bunt moved him to third. Parra doubled him in when he poked at a slider six inches off the plate and perfectly placed a soft flare into left over Pedro; no luck for BB this inning.

Burres went seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with 3 K's after 103 pitches. He didn't have his best control tonight, falling behind often, but hung tough and kept the Bucs in the game and put together a third straight strong start. Burres has gone from an afterthought to position himself as next year's Jeff Karstens.

Kennedy left for a pinch hitter, and Blaine Boyer came on in the seventh. Dewey smacked his lucky thirteenth homer, a drive into right center over the 375' mark with one away, and got Burres off the hook. Joel Hanrahan came on for the eighth.

Drew welcomed him with his third hit, a ground ball single into right. Young went after the next pitch, and banged into an around-the-horn DP. Johnson K'ed. Hanrahan threw nothing but heat in the inning, eschewing his new toy, the slider.

Aaron Heilman took the ball in the eighth. JT bunted for a leadoff base hit; Presley dropped one to move Tabata to second. Walker flew out to left, leaving it up to Jones, who struck out swinging.

Hanny stayed on (only the third time this season he's gone multiple innings), and walked LaRoche; Justin Upton came on to run for him. He stole second - c'mon, you didn't think Dewey could gun him, did you?

After nineteen straight heaters, Hanrahan threw a slider, and struck out Tony Abreu swinging. Montero drew a ten-pitch walk in a grinding at-bat. That brought his pitch count up to 30 pitches, and JR summoned Evan Meek.

EM struck out pinch hitter Brandon Allen and Parra grounded out to end the top of the ninth. Pirate killer Mike Hampton took over for the D-Backs. Pedro grounded out, and McCutch pinch hit for Bowker. Esmerling Vasquz came in to face him.

After falling behind 0-2, McCutch drew a walk. Dewey got a four-pitch pass; that's eight straight balls that Vasquez has tossed. Cedeno went 2-0, and swung through a borderline heater with the green light. He made no mistkae on the next pitch, dropping a soft liner into right center to score a sliding McCutch and give the Bucs the 4-3 win.

The Bucs got decent pitching today, and except for a rocky third, played a clean game. The trick is to repeat it over the final two weeks of the season.

In a double feature, J-Mac and the Zambelli's take on Barry Enright tomorrow night.

-- McCutch got the day off with a stomach virus; JT manned center, surrounded by Alex Presley in left and John Bowker in right.

-- Ross Ohlendorf started throwing today. Ohlie, out with a shoulder sprain, will pitch side sessions for the rest of the season. It hasn't been decided if Ohlendorf will continue throwing after the campaign or if he will be shut down until 2011.

-- Adam LaRoche is back in town with Arizona. His slash line is .261/23/91; Garrett Jones' is .249/20/77. In Wins Above Replacement value, LaRoche is 1.4 and Jones is rated 0.3. Jones, it should be noted, comes at a price tag that's more than $4M cheaper than LaRoche's in 2010; that's a lot to pay for one more win.

-- Altoona beat the Trenton Thunder tonight behind the strong pitching of Justin Wilson (7 IP, 5 hits, no runs) and clutch hitting of Josh Harrison, Anthony Norman and Andrew Lambo to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five championship series. Trenton loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Mike Dubee, but Daniel Moskos came on and struck out the next two batters.

The Curve and Thunder were the division winners during the regular season, and advanced to the ELCS after winning divisional playoffs.

-- Joe Torre announced that his Dodger gig will come to an end after the season; no plans yet for the future. Don Mattingly, Torre’s hitting coach in Los Angeles and a member of his staff in New York, will become the Dodgers manager in 2011.


WilliamJPellas said...

Interesting comparison between Jones and the man he more or less replaced, Adam LaRoche. I thought LaRoche got something of a bum rap in Pittsburgh, at least in terms of his final, season-long statistics. (It was, of course, maddening to watch him stink until June year in and year out.) He's been consistent, if consistently a tick above average for his position, and no better than that. But reliable average-ness (heh!) is still a valuable thing because at least you know what you're getting.

I'd say where LaRoche really differs from Jones is that LaRoche is somewhat better against southpaws. Jones, it's now apparent, is just about helpless in that regard.

But yes, like it or not, economics do come into play. LaRoche would have been very expensive relative to his production and relative to this Pirates team. Since the front office has made it perfectly clear they're going the Marlins - Rays route instead of the Twins-Reds-1990s Indians route, it makes no "sense"---from their point of view---to retain a player like Adam.

Ron Ieraci said...

Actually, Wil, I was surprised the WARs were so close. I thought LaRoche's glove would bump him up; I guess his limited range hurt his rating.

Both are streaky hitters for sure; LaRoche has the better leather, Jones the better wheels. And as you noted, Adam does have just a small split righty/lefty; in that way, he's much more an everyday player than Jones.

As he's kinda proven himself to be a platoon guy, it'll be interesting to see how he's played next season. The FO has been loathe to bring in RH hitters, which pretty much takes away JR's ability to platoon, even if he had the desire.