Buc fans have seen it all before; no lead is sacred for their sad-sack Pirates. Paul Maholm gave the team 6-2/3 shutout innings, with a line of five hits, two walks and three Ks, and a 3-0 lead going into the eighth. Then the roof fell in with just six outs to go.
Evan Meek was called on to hold the lead. He promptly violated the cardinal rule of relievers by walking the first batter; it was followed by an RBI double. Meek coaxed a grounder to first, which clanged off Lyle Overbay's mitt, the surest piece of leather in the infield.
One hit, two outs and two strikes later, a single tied the game, and Chris Resop came on to serve a two-run double to give the Cubs the late lead, one that Carlos Marmol would have no trouble holding. He struck out the side.
Walks and porous infield defense combined for a come-from-ahead loss...sound familiar? Those are the kinds of ghosts Clint Hurdle has to exorcise to get the Pirates to win on the road, or anywhere, for that matter.
It started off well enough. Maholm was rarely in any trouble, and Pedro gave the Bucs an early lead with a RBI knock in the first, scoring Jose Tabata. Tabata came around again in the third on Neil Walker's double. Garrett Jones gave the Pirates more insurance with a solo shot in the seventh.
But on the road, no lead is safe *sigh*.
-- Christina Kahrl of ESPN has a piece called "Cubs and Pirates Play With Fire at Second," comparing the all-bat, no glove of Neil Walker to the Chicago trio of Blake DeWitt, Darwin Barney and Jeff Baker.
-- Both Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie will start the year in extended spring training. The Pirates want to limit their innings to between 90-100 this season, so rather than shut them down at the end of the minor-league year, they opted to keep them in Florida before worrying about their pitch counts.
Taillon is expected to go to West Virginia when the FO is confident the workload is manageable; no decision has been reached on whether Allie will be assigned to West Virginia first or State College.
-- Joe Beimel and Chris Snyder were the battery for BP in Pirate City, so both are progressing, although no date has been set for their return.
-- Altoona announced their roster today. The big fish are Tony Sanchez, Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke.
Indy's hasn't been announced, but by the process of elimination Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Daniel Moskos, Tony Watson, Chase d'Arnaud, Matt Hague and Josh Harrison made the step up.