Sunday, September 5, 2010

Maz Honored; Team Embarrassed

Hey, Charlie Morton looked OK in the first inning. He gave up a manufactured run when Nymo started off slapping an opposite way grounder into left, went to second when Morton's pick-off throw went awry (CM was charged with the error, though it looked like the ball just clanged off the end of Garrett Jones' mitt), a bunt, and a grounder to short.

The Bucs got Jose Tabata aboard when he got plunked in the hand, and lost him just as quickly when he broke on the pitch and was doubled up after Neil Walker's bloop was run down in right. Just imagine the outcry if it were Lastings Milledge running instead of JT. Anyway, one inning, two blunders by the Bucs.

Morton threw a nice second, too, giving up just a two-out walk. The Pirates got their first kncok against Jason Maquis when Dewey lined a two-out single; he went to second when Ronny Cedeno's one hopper spun out of Marquis' glove. He got out of it when Chris Snyder hit one on the nose, but right at left fielder Roger Bernadino.

The Bucs dodged a bullet in the third when with one out, Nyjer Morgan walked. He stole second, but overslid the bag, as he often did in his Pittsburgh days, and Cedeno slapped the ball on him. Ian Desmond followed with a double to the notch, but Morton escaped any damage.

Zimmerman saved the Nats from giving up a big inning when with one out, he dove to glove a ball ticketed by McCutch for the left field corner and threw him out. Tabata singled and Walker doubled after that, but were stranded when Jones grounded out. Both teams had uncashed opportunities, and that's why they're both in last.

The wheels came off in the fourth. Adam Dunn homered to start the inning, followed by a pair of soft, opposite field singles. Adam Kennedy hit a potential DP ball to Jones; he let it go off his glove. Wilson Ramos hit a hard, short-hop at Cedeno. If he comes up with the difficult play, it's two, but it skipped by his mitt into left.

The pitcher hit into a force at home; Jones' mechanical set-up to throw home cost them any chance of a DP. Nymo struck out, and it looked like Morton would wriggle out just giving up a pair. But it wasn't to be. Ian Desmond bounced one that Walker made a nice play on in the outfield grass, but his throw couldn't get the speedy Desmond.

Zimmerman rolled an 0-2 pitch into center just past the diving Cedeno, and it was 6-0. Morton headed to the showers as Daniel McCutchen came on. Dunn ripped one toward the Notch, but McCutch ran it down at the track

A quiet inning turned into a nightmare because the Pirates couldn't come up with a big play in the field, even with repeated chances.

Pedro got one back when he crushed his eleventh homer into center. Cedeno doubled with one away, his fifth straight game with a two-bagger, and was left at second. Joe Martinez, freshly called up from Indy, took over in the fifth.

Martinez gave up a two-out single to Adam Kennedy, who was tossed trying to steal by Snyder; the Bucs got a two-out single by Walker.

The sixth started off easily enough, but with two away, Nymo walked. Pedro booted an easy two hopper, and Zimmerman singled a run home. Dunn smashed a hard-hit one hopper straight at Jones; he turned his glove and had it clang off to allow another score. It was ruled a hit, but it was a ball that should have been caught.

Pittsburgh went down 1-2-3. Martinez got the Nats in order on six pitches in the seventh. Tyler Clippard took the ball from Marquis in the Bucco half, and gave up a two-out infield single to McCutch. Wil Ledezema took the hill in the eighth, walked the first hitter and struck out two of the next three. The Bucs went down quietly again, though Walker collected another single, his third knock of the day.

Chris Resop worked the ninth, surrendering a walk. The Pirates loaded the bases with two away in their at-bat for the red-hot Walker, but he hit a soft hopper to second off the handle to end it.

The Pirates scored one run on eleven hits; the Nats scored eight runs on eleven hits. Washington made the plays they should have, and Pittsburgh didn't. Fundamentals, my dear Watson, fundamentals.

Brian Burres takes the mound against Tommy Hanson tomorrow afternoon.

-- Today's game opened when Billy Maz tossed a strike to Neil Walker for the ceremonial pre-game first pitch, in a passing of the torch moment. Prior to that, Maz had a tearful moment - no surprise there - when his statue was unveiled.

-- Jeff Karstens will miss tomorrow's start; his shoulder is still "cranky."

-- Neil Walker extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games today.

-- RHP Joe Martinez got called up from Indy, and he will pitch out of the bullpen for the big club.

-- The suits are still debating what to do with Brandon Moss, with Thrilledge, Ryan Doumit, and John Bowkser already looking for at-bats in RF. Moss is out of options and can become a free agent if he doesn't end up on the 40-man roster. Another non-rostered Indian that will likely be left in the cold is break-out player Alex Presley.

-- RHP Craig Hansen has been promoted from Bradenton to Altoona. He was a part of the Jay Bay deal, and was shut down for the better part of two seasons with nerve damage in his neck.

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