Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bumblin' Bucs Fall 5-2

In today's get-away game, the Bucs drew first blood against once-long-ago Pirate Ryan Vogelsong. With two outs in the first, Lyle Overbay drew a walk and Neil Walker drove one to the Notch to bring him home.

Meanwhile, Jeff Karstens cut through the G-Man like a knife through hot butter for two innings, using just 14 pitches to get six outs. But once again, the bottom of the order and some Pirate miscues led to a big inning.

The seven hitter, Mike Fontenot, singled to center. Eli Whiteside hit a foul pop to first; Overbay dropped it and JK followed by plunking ol' Eli. Vogelsong laid down a sac bunt; it loaded the bases when Karsten's throw to third was late. Aaron Rowand ripped a double to left to in a pair before the first out, a pop-up, was recorded.

He intentionally walked Aubrey Huff to get to Kung Fu Panda, who bounced into a force out to score another run. Rowand came in when Dewey airmailed a ball trying to get Pablo Sandovar on the top side of a double steal.

Let's see - dropped pop up, hit batter (on a 1-2 pitch, yet), bad decision on a bunt, can't quite turn a DP (it was, to be fair, a slowly hit ball) and a steal of home. Guess Karsten's is lucky it was only four runs, hey? Vogelsong rolled through his three batters, K'ing two.

JK got through the top of the fourth and the dreaded bottom of the order without any further damage. Walker started off the Bucco half with a 3-2 single into right, was wild-pitched to second and Jones drew a walk.

Dewey banged into a force play, and Pedro, who's left a flotilla of runners on third this week, left another when he K'ed. So did Brandon Wood, and another chance was flushed away. The fifth went by quietly, as did the top of the sixth.

The Bucs tried to make a little one-out noise in their half of the frame when Walker and Jones hit back-to-back singles to put runners at first and third. The Bucs now had four hits, three by Walker. Dewey rolled one weakly to first; it scored The Pittsburgh Kid and moved Jones to second.

It also was the shower call for Vogelsong, who was replaced by Jeremy Affeldt. RV went 5-1/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks, with eight K's, the most he's had in a game since 2003.

Affeldt plunked Pedro, but got Wood swinging, using the change-up to finish him off. To start the seventh, Karstens got the first two outs, then gave up a base knock to Nate Schierholtz. Overbay missed a seemingly catchable toss on a pick-off try; the runner jogged to second and came around when Rowland hit a 1-2 pitch into left for a single.

That brought on Daniel McCutchen and Ronny Cedeno in a Clint Hurdle two for the price of one switch. Karstens went 6-2/3 innings, giving up five runs (two earned) on seven hits, a walk, and four strikeouts.

Manny Burris was given credit for an infield single on Walker's throw-away of a grounder, leaving runners at second and third, but McCutchen got Aubrey Huff to bounce out to end the frame.

Ramon Ramirez started the seventh and got Cedeno on a soft come-backer. McCutch and Tabata were retired routinely, and it was on to the eighth. McCutchen did his job, giving up an one-out single and then getting a 6-4-3 DP to clean up.

Javier Lopez got the call in the eighth and walked Overbay. Walker finally proved himself human, hitting into a force. Matt Diaz pinch hit for Jones; he swung at what looked like ball four on a 3-2 count and rolled into a DP.

McCutchen's looked good so far, and Hurdle decided to risk another inning with him. It paid off.

He finished with 2-1/3 innings worked and three hits surrendered, and cleaned them up pretty well with a caught stealing and DP. More importantly, McC gave the rest of the pen a day off with a long flight to Colorado on the horizon.

Brian Wilson took the hill for a rare save opportunity with a three run lead; he walked Dewey and then struck out Pedro, Xavier Paul and Cedeno, all swinging.

The Buc pitching held up well this series. But the Pittsburgh bats and gloves were MIA; today the Pirates had four hits, four errors, and twelve K's. That's disappointing after playing so well last night. Oh well, off to Denver, where hopefully the Rox will be a little kinder to the Pirates than they were during the first home stand.

Kevin Correia will kick off the series against Jhoulys Chacin.

--Lyle Overbay came here with a sterling defensive rep, but in this series, he's missed two or three catchable throws to first by GW's count. Sometimes, you kinda miss Adam LaRoche a little bit.

-- The Bowker deal closed the book on the Javier Lopez trade; now that both he and Joe Martinez were waived, Lopez went to San Fran for free. It's the exact opposite of the Octavio Dotel trade. Win some, lose some...

-- John Bowker seemed almost pleased that he was DFA'ed in a couple of interviews, and looking forward to getting a chance with another club. He can't be blamed; the Pirates MO of grabbing a guy, particularly one out of options, then not giving him much opportunity to prove himself must be frustrating.

This isn't a defense of Bowker. With four outfielders in a regular rotation, he was too similar to Garrett Jones and the Pirates needed a speedy, center-field guy for that fifth OF spot. And if it wasn't Xavier Paul, it would have eventually been Alex Presley or Gorkys Hernandez.

But it shows one of the major drawbacks with trying to upgrade by taking other team's failed prospects through the waiver or trade process; it may increase the upside talent of your team, but without contract options, it's almost impossible to give the guy enough playing time to really evaluate him. Que sera sera, hey?

-- Chris Jaffe of Hardball Talk ledes his "This Day In Baseball" with what he calls the "coolest homer of them all," a walk-off, inside the park grand slam by Roberto Clemente.

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