Saturday, August 6, 2011

2010 All Over Again

The riverside will be jumping tonight, with the Bucs and their post-game Train concert on the Northshore and Wiz Khalifa rapping at Station Square. Let's hope both sets of fans are celebrating when the shows are over.

Paul Maholm got Cameron Maybin on a come backer, then K'ed Jason Bartlett swinging at a slider for his 700th career strikeout. Chase Headley drew a 3-2 walk; Maholm tried to paint the outside black three times and couldn't catch a call from the ump nor get a nibble from Headley. Headley stole second with Jesus Guzman up, but Maholm added him to his K collection, getting a 3-2 foul tip on a slider. Nice inning, even if it took 22 pitches to get through.

Cory Luebke started off McCutch with all heaters, and got him on a pop to short center. Matt Diaz went down swinging at a fastball. Neil Walker squared up on a pitch, but his liner was gloved in center. Luebke has been a Chris Resop clone this inning, challenging the hitters with all fast balls 91-93 MPH and winning. It's scoreless after a frame.

Orlando Hudson lined a knee high, inside corner heater to left for the game's first knock. Aaron Cunningham barely caught a piece of a changeup; Mike McKenry threw him out at first with Hudson moving to second. Maholm tried to throw one on Kyle Blank's hands; it didn't get in far enough and he dropped it into left for a three-bagger and the lead. It should have been a bloop single, but Ryan Ludwick got too close trying to run it down, and the hop spun past him.

Rob Johnson drove a letter high heater to the track in center; the sac fly made it 2-0. PM fell behind his mound opponent 3-0, ran the count full, and gave up a line single to center on a heater down the middle. He didn't get a pitch below Luebke's belt during the at-bat, and has been high throughout the inning. He whiffed Maybin swinging at a slider, and not only is behind, but at 47 pitches through two.

San Diego finally retired Ryan Ludwick; he sent a first pitch heater to the track in right. Steve Pearce flew out to right center, and Brandon wood went down swinging. Bartlett fell behind 0-2, got a slider thigh high and down the middle and spanked it into center. Headley bounced a change to Cedeno, who started a 6-4-3 DP. Guzman grounded out to third, and PM had a quiet third.

Ronny Cedeno hacked away and flew out to short center; he saw one clean strike in five pitches. Mike McKenry finally got the Bucs started with a double off the wall in right center. PM grounded back to the box and MM had to hold the base. McCutch K'ed on a slider; he's had a pair of awkward looking at bats against Luebke.

Hudson rolled a changeup into the second base hole and legged it out for an infield knock. Cunningham blooped a double into right, and this game has the possibility of turning ugly quickly. Blanks lined out to Diaz in right; the runners had to hold. PM tried to throw a two strike heater in on Johnson's hands; he turned on it and banged it inside third for a two run double, and then stole third. Maholm was behind Luebke 3-1, but got him to bounce back to the mound. Maybin bounced a routine ball to short and beat it out when Cedeno double clutched the throw; the Bucs were down 5-0. Bartlett K'ed, and the Bucs were behind the eight ball yet again.

The Padres had the next-to-worst attack in the NL coming to Pittsburgh, but they've done it all - bloops, blasts, infield knocks, rockets - and pounded Pirate pitching thoroughly so far this series.

Diaz turned on a slider running in and bounced it up the line for a lead off double. It took Neil Walker a dozen pitches, but he finally found one he liked and rolled it up the middle for a single, scoring Diaz. Ludwick flew out to center. Walker went to second on a slider that got away while Pearce went down swinging. He had a wasted at-bat, fishing at a pair of sliders way off the plate. Wood bounced out, and it was 5-1 after four innings, Padres.

Maholm tossed a clean fifth with a K and two groundouts. After Cedeno and McKenry K'ed swinging, Hurdle let PM bat. he bounced out to short to end the frame.

PM had his groove, finally, retiring the Padres on five pitches. McCutch led off with a single to left after a seven pitch at-bat. McCutch's baserunning woes continued; he was picked off breaking on the first move, 1-3-6. Trying to steal down by four against a lefty? Geez. Diaz K'ed on a 3-2 pitch. Walker rapped one to short off the glove of Bartlett into left for a single. Ludwick went down swinging, and the Bucs put up another goose egg.

Luebke collected his second hit of the night, a dribbler to the right of the mound that found no man's land. Two outs later, Headley drove him in on a grounder that went off Wood's glove into left to make it 6-1, and that brought on Chris Resop. Maholm went 6-2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on ten hits, a walk and five K's after 103 tosses.

Guzman greeting him by punching one through the right side to put runners at first and second. he stayed outside on Hudson, and after seven pitches he lined a curve into left to tally Headley and send Guzman to third. Will Venable walked on a 3-2 count to load the sacks; the only strikes rung up were swings at curves out of the zone. Blanks got ahead 2-0, and two pitches later took a heater into the left center stands to make it 11-1. It was his second homer of the season.

Joe Beimel came on; as of today, he's the only lefty in the pen. Not that it mattered here against the righty Johnson; he's one of the few guys left whose arm isn't hanging on by a thread. Johnson bounced out to third as the Fat Lady and Train both tuned up.

Luebke retired the Bucs in order, collecting his career high ninth K against Wood. Logan Forsythe started the eighth will a double to the Notch. Maybin grounded one to short; Cedeno muffed it to put runners on the corners. A bouncer to third brought in the run and moved Maybin to second. Alberto Gonzalez lined a shot to left with Maybin stopping at third.

Guzman blooped a single into center to plate another run. But it finally ended; it's now 13-1 San Diego. The Padres have batted twelve players so far this game, with defensive subs; every one has reached base, eleven with hits and one on a walk. Eric Hamren came on for the Padres. With an out, Garrett Jones went deep the opposite way for his thirteenth of the year to make it 13-2.

Xavier Paul was spotted tossing in the bullpen (he must be the second lefty) , but Jose Veras came on for the ninth. After a pop out, RC booted another ball; hard to keep your focus in games like this apparently. Johnson walked on five pitches. Forsythe struck out swinging at a curve on a 3-2 pitch, and Blake Tekotte went down looking. No X-Man tonight, though it might have been the smart play.

Anthony Bass came in with the mop. After getting the first two outs, one a Pedro pinch hit K, Pearce singled to prolong the agony. Wood followed with another single, but it's gonna take more than two out lightning to pull this one out. Cedeno bounced out, and another shellacking was in the books.

Well, we're back in the days of JR. The pitching has folded, the fielding behind it isn't making the plays it had, and the offense just isn't enough to overcome it. Some people date it back to the blown Jerry Meals call, and the nineteen innings did foul up the bullpen. We blame it more on the loss of Alex Presley and Chase d'Arnaud, who gave the team a top of the order and some energy, along with the shoddy starting pitching.  But Clint Hurdle hasn't helped much, at least with the pen.

After managing the bullpen brilliantly, he's had nightmares trying to cover for the short outings of the starters. It's never really allowed him to square away the relievers, and his reluctance to use Hanny aggravated the situation.

Even tonight, with a blowout, Maholm carried him into the seventh, but he burned his only lefty, Joe Beimel, who threw 29 pitches. He also used his two eighth inning guys, Chris Resop and Jose Veras, who both tossed over 20 pitches. And tomorrow is a day game, with less time to recover. The rolling snowball may be overwhelming him right now.

He had Brad Lincoln and didn't use him; maybe he's starting tomorrow, maybe he wanted to save him in case he needs a long guy considering Kevin Correia's last outing. Whether it's Lincoln or Correia on the hill, he better be ready to go deep; the bullpen will be short and pretty well toasted tomorrow afternoon. Keep in mind that he's got to cover more than Sunday; after the game, they jet off to San Francisco for a three game set with the Giants until they finally get a day off.

Mat Latos is scheduled to meet Kevin Correia tomorrow afternoon.

  • The Pirates drew their 14th sellout of the season tonight; 39, 251 showed up.
  • Neil Walker, with two hits tonight, now has nine multi-hit outings in the past twelve games.
  • The Bucco losing streak is now at nine games.
  • Tonight marks the first time San Diego has hit grand salamis in back-to-back games since 1991. Their attack has been both relentless and coldly efficient. They've scored 28 runs on 31 hits in two games, and stranded just twelve runners, six each contest.
  • Alex Presley will begin his rehab at Bradenton tomorrow, so both he and Jose Tabata are on the way to rejoining the club by mid-month.

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