Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Jokers

Jeff Karstens was keeping the ball down in the early going, and looking good. The only hoise the Padres made was when Chase Headley led off the second with a double, but a pair of pop-ups and a K kept him anchored.

Mat Latos, fresh off the DL, showed a little rust early on. He walked a pair of runners in the second, but stranded them at second and third when Jeff Karstens bounced out.

In the third, Jose Tabata, who had singled in the first, caught a fastball and sent it into the seats the opposite way, dropping it over the 375' mark in right center.

So far, so good - Karstens was working on a two-hitter, and up 1-0 after three frames. Latos had surrendered three hits, and hung a couple of sliders that he got away with.

Adrian Gonzalez opened the fourth with a sharply hit ball off Pedro's glove, and letting the leadoff man on usually bites the Pirates. But Karstens got away with it again, getting a 4-6-3 DP and fly out.

Ronny Cedeno got a one-out single and stole second. JJ gave the ball a ride, but it was hauled down at the track in left and Karstens K'd. The Buc 8-9 hitters, in four innings, left five runners in scoring position.

The opening hitter got aboard for the third time in the fifth when Will Venable dumped a soft single into right after Karstens hung a 1-2 curve, and this time it cost.

Venable stole second, his 16th of the year, and went to third on a ground out. Weak-hitting Evert Cabrera lined a single into center, and it was tied. But Karstens cleaned up the inning when Latos bunted back to mound and into a DP.

The Bucs got it back in a hurry. With one away, Delwyn Young took a slider away and belt high and bombed it over the same 375' mark in right center that Tabata did, and the Pirates were back up 2-1.

Karstens just can't get that first batter out no matter what. This time, Jerry Hairston Jr. got to second when Pedro booted a grounder. Chris Denorfia walked on five pitches, and trouble was brewing with Gonzalez, headley, and Matt Stairs looming.

AG rolled a ground ball single into right, scoring a run and putting Padres on the corners. Karstens dropped an 0-2 curve down the middle of the plate, and Headley drilled it into right for another run, with runners still at first and third with no outs. Make that second and third; Headley stole second on the first pitch.

He got Stairs to hit a foul pop to Pedro, and intentionally walked Venable to load the sacks. It didn't work; Nick Hundley hit a deep sac fly to left center to make it 4-2. Again, a Pirate miscue opened the gates for an opportunistic San Diego nine; that's why they're in first and Pittsburgh, well, isn't.

With one away, Cedeno doubled. But Jaramillo, up with a runner in scoring position and less than two outs, could only deliver a bouncer to second. Ryan Church pinch-hit for Karstens; he went down swinging. Church is becoming Aki Iwamura's clone at the plate; he's hitting .189.

Karstens went six innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Javier Lopez came on to start the seventh. he picked up right where Karstens left off, giving up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Aaron Cunningham.

Lopez walked Hairston. Denorfia popped out, and the Bucco LOOGY finally got to a lefty, Gonzalez, who obliged by hitting into a 1-6-3 DP, the Pirates' third of the game.

Latos went six innings, giving up two earned runs on seven hits with two walks and seven K's. Pretty similar line to Karstens, except for the unearned runs.

Ernesto Freiri, who struck out the side yesterday, got another crack at Pittsburgh in the seventh. Tabata welcomed him back with his third hit, a double. Young grounded out to first, moving JT to third. In a big out, Freiri K'ed Walker, who went fishing for a pair of outside heaters.

LHP Joe Thatcher came in from the pen to face Jones, and struck him out. Sean Gallagher, strong last night, took the hill in the eighth. He had the leadoff runner reach, too, this time on a Jones boot, for the sixth time in eight innings.

Tony Gywnn Jr. lined 2-0 fastball into left, and the Padres were cookin', especially after he walked Venable on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases and did the same to Hundley to force in a run. And Gallagher missed badly on both payoff pitches. As if that wasn't bad enough, it began to rain.

After the rain delay, DJ Carrasco came on to relieve Gallagher. JR must consider him a miracle worker; he brought him in for the same situation - bases loaded, no outs - last night.

Cabrera hit a swinging bunt with the only play to first, scoring another and advancing the runners. Oscar Salazar doubled them both in. That closed the book on Gallagher - no innings, four runs (three earned) one hit, two walks.

Denorfia hit a ground ball up the middle, and the game was a 9-2 rout. the Bucs went down meekly to Tim Stauffer in the eighth, and Octavio Dotel got the mop up call for the ninth, striking out two of three hitters. Stauffer mowed 'em down in the ninth, and loss #63 was in the books.

The Bucs got thumped, for sure, but one question - where were Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan the last two nights? OK, they were used a lot; maybe yesterday was a rest day, even if it was a 4-3 game in the seventh. But turning another tight game over to Sean Gallagher with Meek and Hanrahan in the pen? Maybe there's a problem or situation we don't know about with them, but geez...

We're wondering if they're trying to showcase the vets in the pen with a week to the deadline. If so, that's a pity to put the team in a less competitive position just to milk a couple more AA players for the organization.

(JR's response to their absence, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette after the game, is that he prefers to use them when he has the lead.)

Brad Lincoln and Wade LeBlanc pitch tomorrow afternoon's game.

-- Tonight's crowd was 36,967, the 6th sellout this year. Maybe Steve Miller can pitch, too.

-- Indy's LH reliever Wil Ledezma lowered his ERA to 0.94 tonight, and hasn't been charged with a run since May 30th. Just saying, in case someone wants Javier Lopez...

No comments: