Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pedro Doesn't Homer; Brewers Do *Sigh*

OK, Ohlie got through the first; that's a start. Ricky Weeks nailed him for a lead off triple, and after a short fly and whiff of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder walked. Jim Edmonds (.321 lifetime, .542 this season against Pittsburgh going into the game) lined out to center, so hey, it's a great opening frame.

The Bucs tried to flash a little two out lightning against Yovani Gallardo when Neil Walker and Garrett Jones both lined singles, but he threw Pedro nothing but 95 MPH heaters away, and got the call to catch him looking.

It was a little more of the same in the second, when Craig Counsell stroked a one-out double and was stranded, even with a wild pitch. The Pirates tried their two out tricks again, but after a Ronny Cedeno single, Ohlie went down swinging.

But he's paid to pitch, and did that in the third, striking out a pair. Ohlie was all over the plce, and that may be working in his favor - he's been in, out, up, and down, making it kinda tough for a batter the settle in.

The Bucs were starting to catch on to Gallardi. Tabata dumped a single to right, and Delwyn Young flew out deep to straightaway center. JT stole second, and Walker drew a four pitch free pass. But it wasn't enough; he routinely retired Jones and Alvarez. The Bucs had stranded five in the first three frames, three in scoring position.

Ohlendorf cracked first; he fed Prince Fielder a knee-high, inside heater and he yanked it out. After four, it was 1-0 Brew Crew.

Both pitchers were working hard and in the upper 60's in pitch count. Both were working the black and the edges of the strike zone, and plate ump Mike Muchlinski was having trouble establishing the corners, frustrating pitcher and hitter alike.

Ohlie was back to having leadoff troubles. Alcides Escobar singled and was bunte to second to bring up the top of the order. He plunked Weeks to get himself in a little deeper. But he worked out of the jam.

In the sixth, Ohlie came back from 3-0 to K Fielder. With two outs, Jonathan Lucroy crushed a double to left, and then Ohlendorf wild-pitched him to third when he bounced a curve to Erik Kratz. But he got out of it again, whiffing Craig Counsell with high heat.

The Pirate bats came up empty again. Jones led off the sixth with a single, and with two away, Kratz caught a heater that he sent to the fence in right center; close, but no cigar.

That was the last hurrah for Ohlie. He went six innings, giving up a run on six hits, walking one, beaning one, throwing two wild pitches, and striking out six. Not his best stuff, but he was tough when the going got rough. Gallardi got the hook, too. He went six scoreless, yielding five hits, striking out five, plunking one, and walking one.

Evan Meek got the call for the seventh. He gave up a one out single to Carlos Gomez, and fed Weeks a 95 MPH heater down Broadway that weeks drove over the center field fence. 3-0 is a lot higher hill to climb than 1-0.

The Pirates tried again for some two out love against Todd Coffey. He walked Tabata, after three tight pitches missed - one behind him - and drawing a bench warning, then Young singled him to third. Coffey paid when Walker drilled a slider over the heart of the plate (on an 0-2 pitch) into the RF corner to bring home a pair.

How tattered is the Brewer bullpen? Kenny Macha brought in Monday's starter, Chris Capuano, to relieve Coffey as a LOOGY to face Jones. It worked, too - Jones tapped back to the mound. But it was now 3-2 with six outs to go.

Javier Lopez started off the eighth, facing Fielder. He went up 0-2, and then walked the big guy, and then got Edmonds to line out. Lopez got a ground ball from Lucroy, but it found the hole to put runners on first and second. He struck out lefty Counsell, and then Escobar singled into left.

The Brewers waved Fielder around, and Lastings Milledge's throw beat him easily. The 265 pound Fielder tried to steamroll Kratz, but his 255 pound bulk was equal to the task; it remained 3-2. WWF, anyone? Fielder threw a pair of uppercuts backed with forearms shivers into Kratz, but the 6'4" backstop shrugged him off and walked away. 210 pound JJ might still be airborne if he was catching!

John Axford, their closer, came on with one away in the eighth, and shut down the Bucs; ironically, Kratz popped out to Fielder to end the inning. Joel Hanrahan slammed the door on the Brewers in the ninth, and Axford returned the favor.

This is the first exam during test week for the Pirates. Macha threw his best arms against them tonight, and San Diego's formidable rotation rolls into PNC tomorrow night. The learning curve is becoming a little bit steeper. Beanball wars and throwdowns at home plate are fun fan fodder; clutch hits, like Walker's, are what wins games.

Paul Maholm will go against Kevin Correia to open the Padre series.

-- Ryan Doumit was put on the 15-day DL with concussion like symptoms; this is the third time since June 8th that he's had the same problem. Jason Jaramillo, sent down ten days ago, will come back to platoon with Eric Kratz while Dewey's out. You have to wonder if his catching career is in jeopardy now or if they just brought him back too soon - or both.

Luke Carlin is the only warm body left at Indy, and GW is curious whether they'll call up someone or let Jeff Clement behind the dish as the #2. If Dewey ends up to be damaged goods, it'd make sense to get JC some innings to see if he's got it or not.

-- Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that "Other teams convinced that the Pirates are going to move Octavio Dotel in a trade and install Joel Hanrahan as their closer."

Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk agrees, listing Dotel among his top trade targets: "Every year someone talks themselves into a bad team's closer as they scramble for bullpen help at the deadline. Dotel may be this year's target. A club option for $4.25 million in 2011, but most teams would view him as a rental. The Marlins expressed some interest, but a trade to Florida seems unlikely."

-- The last Pirate to have multi-homer games back-to-back since Pedro was Jason Thompson, who did it in 1984. Alvarez is the first Pirate rookie to accomplish the feat.

-- Pedro and Thrilledge both have nine-game hitting streaks going into tonight's game.

-- There was some talk of McCutch coming back this weekend; the Pirates indicated that he may be on the shelf until Tuesday, when they start a road swing.

-- It's official now: Pittsburgh sold the rights to Indy pitchers Hayden Penn (to Chiba Lotte) & Vinnie Chulk (to Hiroshima Toyo Carps) to Japanese teams.

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