Sunday, July 18, 2010

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun

The Buccos broke out on top of today's get away game in the second. Pedro started it off by shooting a sharp one hopper off Roy Oswalt's ankle. The ace might have have been feeling the effects, because within three pitches, Dewey doubled Alvarez home and Lastings Milledge singled home Doumit.

Milledge may have cost the Bucs a run when he took off to steal on an 0-2 pitch that Ronny Cedeno lined into right for a double. Hunter Pence took a bad route to the ball, but still was within a step of it, and Milledge stopped at second to see if he'd make the catch. He didn't, and Milledge ended up at third instead of home, and third is where he was stranded. Pick up the coach, Thrilledge.

Still, picking up an early pair of runs off Oswalt was a big boost; last time out, he one-hit the Pirates. Oswalt dodged another bullet in the third when with Neil Walker aboard and two outs, Pedro drove a ball just short of the fence in right center; it needed five more feet of carry to end that long streak of bases-empty homers.

Pittsburgh kept the pressure on in the fourth, but still couldn't add on. Dewey hit a leadoff double, hitting a ball off the railing of the Clemente Wall. Milledge tapped back to the pitcher, catching Doumit off base. But he got into a rundown long enough for Milledge to reach second, so no damage done.

Cedeno lined a single into left, and with Paul Maholm up next, Beasley waved Milledge home, but Carlos Lee, not noted for his arm, threw a one-hop strike to the plate to easily nail LM.

The Astros had to dip into their bullpen early today when Chris Sampson came on in the fifth. And no, Oswalt wasn't traded - he had a left ankle contusion from Pedro's rope.

The Bucs greeted Sampson with a Jose Tabata single and Garrett Jones two-out dinger, the first Pirate bomb with a runner on since the Mastadons grazed at PNC. Actually, it snapped a string of 1,097 at-bats without a homer with anyone aboard dating back to June 8th.

Nothing better than getting rid of an ace and getting to the bullpen early; the Bucs tagged Wilton Lopez with two runs when McClutch singled home Milledge and Cedeno with two away to build a comfortable 6-0 lead.

Cedeno has been on fire since his sit-down for Bobby Crosby; hopefully some time on the pine will motivate him as well as it did Lastings Milledge. So far, so good.

Casey Daigle came on in the eighth, and it only got better for the Pirates. Cedeno doubled, his fourth hit and third two-bagger. Ryan Church doubled him in, and Tabata doubled Church home. Walker singled JT in, and it was 9-0.

The Bucs pounded out 19 hits, including seven doubles and a homer, and drove in four runs with two outs. For the second straight day, every position player had a hit. Who are these guys?

And hey, Paul Maholm was the epitome of the pitch-to-contact guy today. He gave up just three hits, walked none, and struck out one. It was a bravo performance for Maholm, who needed just 103 pitches for his complete game shutout.

The good news is that the complete game rests the bullpen; everyone was in the action yesterday. The bad news is that Andrew McCutchen landed awkwardly making one of his patented diving catches in the eighth; he was taken out and is being examined for a possible neck injury. He came off holding his shoulder; let's hope it's just a stinger and nothing more serious. (EDIT: It's been diagnosed as a mild sprain of AC joint of the right shoulder. His status is day-to-day, and he'll be reevaluated tomorrow.)

The Brew Crew comes to town tomorrow, and Jeff Karstens will start off the series against Chris Capuano.

--Pittsburgh snapped a pair of seven game losing streaks last night; one was overall and the other was to the Astros.

-- Hey, the Buccos like playing in front of a full house. They're 6-1 when 30,000+ show up at the PNC ballyard.

-- Jen Langosch on her By Gosh blog has a piece on the Bucco base-stealing woes, including a chart on how effective the pitchers are at foiling runners.

-- Hayden Penn is Japan-bound and Vinnie Chulk is working on a deal. Guess Indy is a feeder system both in America and Japan.

-- Altoona Curve relief pitcher Diego Moreno, a highly touted prospect with a 98 mph fastball, has been suspended by the Pirate organization for unprofessional behavior, reports Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror. The details were not made public by the Pirates.

-- So you think Ryan Doumit is fragile? The Indians put Kerry Wood on the DL for a blistered finger. It was the 14th time since 1999 that Wood has been on the DL.


Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Excellent wins this weekend. Lastings Milledge continues to hit well and play with exuberance, so I hate to even mention this, but ... Appearing on MLB Tonight, JOHN KRUK of all people singled out Milledge for extended review, discussion and criticism of Sunday's base running blunder.

Using close-up video replay, Kruk dissected Milledge's first-to-third "adventure" detailed Milledge's multiple, inexplicable mistakes along the way -- specifically looking over his shoulder and ignoring his third-base coach.

At the end of it, Kruk said, "Yeah, the Pirates won the game, but Houston's almost as bad, and the Pirates will never win consistently until they eliminate fundamental mistakes like this sort of base running AND begin playing better fundamental baseball across the board."

When John Kruk disses you for lousy base running in the wake of a nice win, well, that's just kind of sad. The worst part is that he's right! John KRUK!

WilliamJPellas said...

Milledge was a well-known knucklehead, to put it kindly, before he came to Pittsburgh, so this is not surprising. I'll give him credit, certainly, for cleaning up his act in terms of generally keeping his mouth shut, and he definitely hustles, and those are good things as well as significant improvements over his previous behavior. But his on-field play is consistently sloppy and that's a fact, one which Kruk documented very effectively.

Ron Ieraci said...

Will - JJ hit .269 LH in 2009, when he got a few a-bats, and lifetime hits about 50 points higher against righties. Kratz rakes lefties, at least last year, at a .340 rate, but .243 against RHP.

And I think you're being a little hard on our knucklehead; he runs the bases like Dewey, but I think otherwise he's pretty solid.

JP, you're right about Kruk and the baserunning; Thrilledge is clueless, but again, he sure seems to do everything else right except knock it over the fence.

As bad as they've been this year, I agree 100% with you that he's never hung his head or looked like he wasn't having fun. And it's for sure that he doesn't leave anything when he trots off the field.

Remember too, guys - if not for LM, it's Church, Moss or Gorkys Hernandez running around out there.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

"if not for LM, it's Church, Moss or Gorkys Hernandez running around out there."

What a frightening thought.

Alex Pressley, anyone?