Thursday, June 17, 2010

It Keeps Right On A'Hurtin'...

Ah, the Bucs. Ross Ohlendorf hasn't recaptured the lightning in a jar he had last year, and that's a big hole in the Pirate rotation.

In the second, he gave up a leadoff double; a single and sac fly later, it was 1-0.

To start the third, he gave up a single and hit a batter; his bacon was temporarily saved by a diving stop by Pedro and strong throw to first for out number one. But another sac fly and a two-out double, and it was 3-0 before the parrot could take his first lap around PNC.

By the end of the third, the Pirates had two hits; both were with two away and the bases empty. The Sox got two leadoff guys on, and both scored. Hmmm...sounds like a plan the Bucs may want to adopt.

The Pirates tried to make some noise in the fourth. Garrett Jones doubled off the wall in center (and Alex Rios mitt), and went to third on Lasting Milledge's one-out liner into short center. Pedro came up with ducks on the pound, took a mighty cut at the first pitch heater, and...bounced sharply into a 3-6-3 DP. Pittsburgh must rub off on these guys.

In the sixth, Neil Walker gave the guys a shot in the arm when he took an 0-2 curve that caught too much of the plate into the third row, making it 3-1.

Ohlie couldn't keep them hanging around, though. A leadoff double over Jose Tabata's head, a sac bunt, and a gapper triple got him the hook. The Big O went 6-1/3 frames, giving up five runs on nine hits with four K's.

Joel Hanrahan came on, and gave up a routine grounder that got through the drawn-up infield to close Ohlie's book.

The Pirates had some fight left in them, though. In the eighth, an Andy LaRoche pinch-hit double, Tabata walk, and Walker single loaded the sacks with one away. McClutch lined a single into left for one, Jones hit a towering fly to right that he got just under to plate another, and Lastings Milledge singled home a third run.

Up stepped Pedro, and three 96 MPH heaters from lefty Matt Thornton later, he was back on the bench. But it was a game, 5-4, going into the ninth. The Pirates, though, had run out of pixie dust.

Bobby Jenks sandwiched a sweet sliding catch by Juan Pierre between a pair of K's to notch the save. For Pittsburgh, too little, too late.

Wonder what the brass would have said if you told them in March that by June 17th Charlie Morton would be in the minors and he, Ohlie, and Zach Duke would be a combined 4-22, none with an ERA under five? Probably nothing printable in a family blog.

Another interesting thing we noticed is that the AL teams steal, hit-and-run, bunt, run suicide squeezes, hit sac flies, go from first-to-third, show patience at the plate, and do all the things NL teams are supposed to do but so often don't.

Jimmy Leyland and Ozzie Guillen may not be known as small ball guys, but their teams sure don't waste many runners.

Paul Maholm will take on Fausto Carmona and the Indians tomorrow night, starting the 1960 World Series celebration weekend. It could be awhile before they celebrate another one, so party while you can.

-- Tonight's Pedro watch: 0-for-4, with three K's and a DP. He's been a slow starter at every level, and his MLB debut has been no different. But in the field, he was night and day from last game. He made a couple of nice reaction plays and showed a rifle for an arm. He turned from Richie Hebner into Pie Traynor in 24 hours.

-- Jose Tabata isn't showing his youth at the plate. He's hitting .259, but with a .355 OBP, and stings two or three balls per game while showing some patience. Jose will fish, but not often, as shown by his six-game on-base streak. At first blush, he could be the leadoff guy the Bucs have been looking for.


WilliamJPellas said...

This team truly is bad beyond belief. There is a small glimmer of hope when it comes to the everyday position players---though still not yet enough talent overall and Doumit needs to go---but it's the starting pitching that is utterly killing us.

I still think Paul Maholm is a quality mid-rotation starter in the big leagues, but his knee and other dings seem to have knocked him down a couple of pegs. Duke is awful. Ohlendorf hasn't recaptured his form from last season. Morton is hopeless. Karstens is actually our best chance to win on most nights, and that's beyond pathetic. (Don't get me wrong, I love Jeff, and every staff needs guys like him, but he should be a long man and spot starter, not taking a turn every fifth day.)

I'll say again that you have to ask what's going on with our pitching when so many hurlers seem to go straight into the ground when they come here. Granted, none of them are world beaters, but....yoi and double yoi.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, Maholm has been awfully dependable this year; I think he's left four games with the lead and not gotten a decision.

Maybe next time his knee aches, they'll give him a couple turns off instead of making him pitch one-legged like last year.

The pitching has been disastrous, and it does call their evaluation and/or coaching skills into question.

The hitting shouldn't be this bad, but at least it brought the next wave of talent here to learn the ropes. I still think they'll have a turnaround toward respectability as the year goes on and the pups progress.

Still, that lack of power is a killer and needs addressed.

WilliamJPellas said...

Again, what is their identity, and what sort of team are they trying to build that plays ball "the Pirate Way"? American League, Earl Weaver, 3-run home runs and great pitching? Or, National League, Whitey Herzog, go-go-go high average hitters who run all day long (with great pitching, of course)?

Seems to me we're neither of those things, though---it must be said---we had 3 guys on the roster at or nearly the same time in Morgan, McLouth, and McCutchen who would certainly have enabled us to play Whiteyball, assuming McLouth would have stayed healthier with us than he has in Atlanta (perhaps an unfounded assumption).

Man, our starting pitching stinks. Just. Stinks.

Ron Ieraci said...

I don't think they're that far along, Will, to mold a team one way or another. I can tell by the draft and trades that they like big, hard throwers.

As for the position players, I think it's whatever sticks against the wall; even in the draft they're all over the place regarding physical tools.

Whether that's an organizational tug-of-war or a dynamic of marketplace reality is hard to tell; probably a bit of both.