Duke threw a gem, our number seven and eight batters tied the game, and Jason Bay hit his 100th homer as Pirate over the right centerfield wall, as the Bucs took game one of the three-game series.
And how about Bayliss – another basesloaded strand for him. WOW!
Go Cubs, Go!
Anybody else look up in the sky and see a moon that was nearly full and redish/orangish? Yup.. it will be full on the 2cd – the last day of this series.
Go Cubs, Go!
Game two tomorrow leaves us with another impossible task – beating Ted Lilly, another southpaw. Again on paper, this is another blowout.
Go Cubs, Go!
Go Cubs, Go!
We updated Bill Gentry’s photo album at http://pirates.mlblogs.com with his outstanding work from 4/20 – 4/25 games.
Soriano, DeRosa, and Ramirez, oh my..
Hill, and Lilly, and Marquis, oh my..
Duke with a 10.38 ERA last 3, oh my..
Cubbies are SLG .465 last 5, oh my..
10 mph wind blowing out to right tonight, oh my..
Lee making southpaws weep on the mound, oh my..
Piniella’s first trip into the ‘Burgh since 2005, oh my..
Have the Cubs really scored 110 runs this year?.. oh my..
The Pirates are averaging just 3 runs at home, oh my..
50% chance Monday’s game is rained out, OH MY!
On paper this series is a blowout. Not a little blowout, mind you.. a creaming. The Cubbies bats are in overdrive, their pitching is hitting on all cylinders, and even their dreaded middle infielders are making plays ours just think about.
I suppose we could take a page from Piniella’s book and walk the #2 – #5 batters every other inning. Maybe we’d have a chance.
Duke has pitched well against the Cubs, but hasn’t beaten them since before the 2006 All-Star Game. His mound opponent, southpaw Rich Hill, already ownz the Pirates with a ridiculous 12.6 K/9 rate and a 1.29 ERA.
Throw in a Pirates defense that is making errors on almost every play, an offense that can’t score runs at PNC, and pitching that has taken a week off, and you might as well go on and take a three-day vacation and just come back and read the standings on Friday.
It’s that bad on paper.
Let’s face it, if Duke or Armas throw anything near the plate to Lee this series they need their heads examined. The same holds true for Armas or Snell versus Ramirez Tuesday and Wednesday. Or Armas versus Floyd.
Soriano hits everybody.
And don’t forget for one second the Pirates tried to get Jones but he had a no-trade that includes the Pirates, so you have to wonder if he won’t display a little grudge for us to see this series.
Believe it or not, you can’t even put a bet down on game 1 of this series the odds are so lopsided. No where.. not even offshore. Talk about being underdogs.
The way I look at it, the Pirates have nothing to lose this entire series except their pride, which they have pretty much hung out on the clothes line the last few days anyway.
Why not confuse the Cubs.. let Doumit leadoff, or start the game with LaRoche on the mound, or let Elred take the mound and bean half the lineup the first inning?
Or maybe Jim Tracy should walk out to hand the lineup card to the home plate ump wearing a goat costume?
I mean, we might as well have some fun if we are going to get skunked. Maybe if they get so mad they can’t stand it, they will lose their composure?
No.. it didn’t work in St. Louis this last weekend, did it? If you missed it, the St. Louis Post printed a poem about why the Cubs won’t win the divison this year and all it did was fire them up and leave the Cardinals wondering what just hit them.
Well, I know I’m going to get a fresh supply of Valium tomorrow and I think I’ll send a case of K-Y Jelly to the Pirates clubhouse. I have a feeling they are going to need it.
If you’re like me who loves the underdogs, then get ready for a great series.. if we show up to play baseball, the results just might surprise some people. Including Vegas.
Naw.. I didn’t just say that, did I? hehe
I don’t know what it is with our middle infielders and their inability to play defense this year.
April 6th — Score 1-1 with two outs in the third and Encarnacion singled up the middle. Griffey then hit a routine grounder to Jack Wilson but he threw flat footed, and side-armed to first base allowing Griffey a single. Conine then goes yard on the very next pitch and three runs score. Reds win.
April 7th — Score 3-2 Reds in the fourth and one out. Dunn walks and Phillips hits a routine popup to deep short. Wilson camps under it and.. misses it. Phillips would eventually come around to score as the Reds winning run. Reds win.
April 27th — Score 1-0 Reds in the fifth and Ross hit a little flair to Bay who fails to catch it putting men at 1st and 3rd. Belisle sac bunts, Paulino tags him out for the second out and throws to Wilson covering second to get Ross. But Wilson fails to tag Ross and then fails to throw home as Dunn scores. Reds eventually go on to score three more in the inning. Reds win.
April 28th — Score 4-1 Pirates starting the 4th and Conine hits a grounder just out of the reach of Sanchez for a single. Maholm throws a wild pitch, Doumit can’t get it, Conine breaks for second, and Doumit throws him out. Unfortunately, Sanchez does his best Ringling Brothers tumbling act and he drops the ball missing out number 1.
Maholm then walks two to load the bases and Encarnacion triples three runs home, Ross pop out for what should be the innings second out, and Harang hits one into center to score Encarnacion. Just one out and the score is now 5-4.. although it could have been 4-4 Pirates had Sanchez held on.
Freel then hits a tailor-made double play grounder to Wilson but Freddy can’t turn the DP. Right.. if nothing else, the force at second should have been the third out and the inning over with the game tied. But as luck goes, Phillips then hammered a double off the right centerfield wall and Freel scored to put the Reds up 6-4.
That’s a ton of middle infield errors, miscues, errors, and blunders for any MLB baseball team to make expecting to win games. And there’s even more –
April 21st — Sanchez is late covering second and ultimately out of position on Paulino’s high throw to get Valdez stealing and the ball goes off his mitt into CF. Valdez later scores as the games winning run.
April 20th — Brewers up 5-1, Hardy hits a grounder to Sanchez with two men in scoring position, the ball goes under his glove and both runs score. The Pirates shutout the Brewers the rest of the way and rally to score 4 more runs but come up two runs short – the two Sanchez let come in.
April 10th — Pirates up 2-0 in the 9th with Cardinals runners at 1st and 2cd and no outs. Pujols hits a deep fly ball to Bay, he catches it, and throws to his cutoff man as the runner from 2cd breaks. Unfortunately, the cutoff man is Wilson and he’s out of position lined up for a throw to third and Duncan takes second on Bay’s throw to third.
Men at 2cd and 3rd, one out, and Speizio singles home both runners. Preston Wilson then hits into a game ending double play. All things equal, if Bay had thrown th Wilson lined up for a relay to keep Duncan at 1st base, the Pirates would have won.
If you’re keeping track, that is 7 out of the Pirates 12 losses our middle infielders have either been the direct cause of the loss or a significant part of the loss. And that’s before I even mention in-game errors, miscues, double plays not turned, and other blunders.
No – they aren’t the only ones making mistakes. Bay has been involved directly in two of the Pirates losses himself. Torres could have helped the team in a few more.
But the theme is nearly identical loss-to-loss.. middle infield defensive problems that wears down the confidence of our young starters who then implode to compound the problem.
It can’t continue.
Even Jim Tracy and his old school mentality that everything tends to the mean over time has to feel the pain from some of these games that have been slaps to his face.
I mean, Sanchez is certainly not 100% on the field, but he’s playing everyday. Duffy was grounded last year hitting below the Mendoza line after 75 ABs, but LaRoche keeps being put in the lineup day after day with the message that his D is more important. But wasn’t Duffy’s more important? And Paulino keeps catching despite the fact he’s been lazy behind the plate and in the box.
If Tracy refuses to play his best overall eight players behind his young staff, then we deserve to lose.. and we’ll continue to lose because of it.
Castillo needs to go back to second base. We didn’t win all those games in the second half last year with him on the pine. Sanchez can’t hit the side of a barn so either put him on the DL until he’s healthy instead of forcing him to whittle his confidence level to the size of a gnat, or drop him in the order and let him get some pitches he can put in play.
LaRoche must have read my post the other day because he has taken an aggressive stand at the plate ever since. I like it. But Tracy needs to drop him in the order too.. give him some slack.
The game of baseball is all about making adjustments and we are simply not adjusting. We are like a cement statute with just a new layer after Doumit was brought up.
The Cubs come in playing baseball much like they did in 2006 – very poorly. But I’m sitting here and telling you they are going to look like NLCD champs if we continue to play the way we are, and we very well could be in last place when they leave.
The Pirates need to wake up in the front office before it’s too late. Unless, of course, this is simply another developmental year.
Hey – it was Saturday night.. did you really expect the Pirates to win? Friday night is typically their party night when playing at home and, as you would expect from a young team that likes to party, they have yet to win a Saturday contest.
Tip your hat to Matt Belisle.. he made the entire Pirates lineup look like little leaguers. Perhaps they were still hungover.. that might explain first pitch swinging all night long, the poor defensive play, and all the stupid looks.
But Belisle was on and the Pirates were off. Way off. So far off, I wondered at times if any of them needed glasses except Jose Bautista and Chris Duffy.
The Post-Gazette’s account of the Pirates falling apart has it developing in the 5th inning, and their account goes like this:
"Paulino did tag Belisle, but he hesitated for a moment after that, then threw to second when he saw Ross running. Shortstop Jack Wilson, unaware Belisle already was out, did not attempt a tag on Ross. He simply kept his foot on the bag and flicked to first to try for a double play that now was impossible."
"And Dunn? He sprinted across home plate while all this was going on, despite Gorzelanny shouting to call Paulino’s attention to him."
In my opinion, Paulino didn’t hesitate, Gorzelanny had his back to Dunn and had no clue what he was doing because Gorzy immediately hit the dirt trying to save his life with Paulino throwing over the top of him, Jack Wilson was staring right at the home plate umpire who not only pumped his first once to indicate Belisle was out, but twice, and Paulino made the right throw as the ball was there for Wilson to tag out Ross to end the inning.
Unfortunately, Wilson’s mind was in California surfing or something.
Watch the video and you’ll see that Bay should have been called for an error in the fourth that led to a run scoring, that Bay started back on a Ross flair that Bay failed to glove but wasn’t called for an error, that Sanchez made an error on a Freel groundball and wasn’t called, and that Paulino was too lazy to get up from his crouch to throw out Dunn on a steal in the 5th.
In that same article Jim Tracy said:
"There was a good possibility we could have been out of that fifth inning."
No doubt. The Pirates gave the Reds potentially eight outs, that’s right, eight outs in the 5th. So while the score was indeed 5-0 after the 5th, it should have been 0-0 if the Pirates had come to play baseball.
You’re not going to win too many games needing 32 outs to end the game.
Gorzelanny was high in the zone all night long and he’s lucky he was facing a demoralized Reds lineup because the score could have been 20-0 the way he was throwing. To his credit, home plate ump Bill Welke would not give him the low strike and Reds batters were smart enough to stay at home not swinging at it. So Gorzy had to groove some pitches.
We’ll just have to chock this game up as a lesson in party times in Pittsburgh. But that’s ok.. everybody has off days.
Here’s the video:
Top of the 5th and Matt Belisle is throwing a no hitter so this is in an attempt to break it by talking about it.
*rally cap on backwards*
Edit – Paulino broke the no-hitter with a double in the 6th then Duffy singled through the middle of the diamond to score him to break up the shutout.
Here is the link to the original post: [link].
After I posted that piece, I was hammered. Even Bill James mentioned that the scout was probably thinking about facts that were around the game a few years ago.
But the scout’s observations have come to play out:
"Bucco Blog: Tell us how you view LaRoche’s offensive capabilities.
Scout: Line to line hitter with a plus bat to both fields when he chooses the right approach at the plate. He gets into trouble when he gets too patient or he swings a long bat. He has two plate approaches: impatient at the plate and a lot of contact and power at the expense of higher K’s or patient at the plate and no power."
There’s no question that Adam LaRoche’s approach at the plate has been to patiently swing a long bat. He’s almost too patient and the result has been little to no power.
When I asked Bill James about LaRoche being a platoon player, he was very adamant that the Pirates should not view him that way – LaRoche needs to play everyday.
But the scout insisted, even after I spoke with James, that he felt LaRoche would be a perfect platoon partner with Nady, with the trade off being a reduction in defense for more runs scored. At one time the scout even mentioned Neil Walker as a potential platoon partner at first when they didn’t know what to do with him, and before the Pirates shoved him to third
LaRoche seems to be starting to see the ball a tad better hitting .250 over his last three games, although it probably has more to do with a little luck and the quality of pitching the Pirates have faced more than anything because he hasn’t changed his approach at the plate at all.
Not even batting 6th.
I respect Bill James more than just about anyone around the game and I’m sure what he said about LaRoche will pan out over time – he’ll hit about .280 and get about 30 dingers. And let’s face it, LaRoche is a notoriously slow starter each year so there is some hope still in the tank.
Yet, I can’t help wondering if the scout might eventually end up being right – that LaRoche may not get to .280 – not even close. If I’m Dave Littlefield or Jim Tracy I continue to play LaRoche everyday without a question.
But if I’m Jeff Manto, I would be back looking at film from LaRoche’s farm days with the Braves wondering what the scout meant by impatient with a lot of contact because we certainly haven’t seen that side of LaRoche yet.
In April 1947, one man opened America’s pastime to men of every race and color — Jackie Robinson, whose athletic prowess and courage on the field was mirrored by the dignity and integrity with which he lived his personal life.
His example has stood for the generations that have followed and the Pirates paid tribute to him Friday night with every player wearing a #42 jersey.
Robinson is shown in the image before entering the Dodgers club house in 1947 still wearing his minor league uniform.
One of Jackie Robinson’s more famous quotes was:
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
One young Pirate whose life Robinson has touched is Ian Snell who dedicated his performance Friday night to Robinson. And Snell looked no less than Robinson’s equal on the field when it was over.
Throwing 7 shutout innings and allowing just six scattered hits, Snell kept the Reds off-balanced all night long to record his 4th win of the year and lowering his ERA to a miniscule 1.59.
The Pirates provided run support for Snell by jumping on Reds starter Eric Milton for three runs before he could record his second out in the game.
Chris Duffy led off with an infield single, Jack Wilson walked, a wild pitch by Milton allowed Wilson and Duffy to advance, Jason Bay doubled into the left centerfield gap to score then both, Brad Eldred singled moving Bay to 3rd, and Adam LaRoche singled Bay home.
It was all the runs the Pirates would need.
Both the Reds and Pirates made some outstanding defensive plays on the field. Ryan Freel ran down Jose Bautista’s sharply hit fly ball at the wall in the first to save a couple of runs, Edwin Encarnacion made a great leaping play to flag a crushed liner off Bay’s bat in the third, and Jason Bay ranged deep into the left centerfield gap to catch an Encarnacion fly ball.
The win Friday leaves the Pirates with an 11-10 record, in second place in the division, and just 2 games behind the Brewers who lost to the Cubs.
Saturday’s game pits RHP Matt Belisle (2-1, 4.43 ERA) vs. LHP Tom Gorzelanny (3-0, 2.05 ERA).
David Price K’d 13, allowed just 4 hits and 1 earned run, and Vandy went on to beat Florida 10-1. Matt LaPorta was still MIA after getting hurt last week.
Friday night’s win was the Pirates first Friday win of the season – they are now 1-3 leaving Saturday as their only winless day.. Freddy Sanchez is now hitting .125 since he was removed from the lineup April 17th with a wrist injury.. Jose Bautista, who won a starting role over Jose Castillo, is now hitting .194 at PNC Park this year while Castillo is hitting .333.. in eight home games this year, Pirates pitching has allowed just 24 earned runs in 82 innings for a 2.63 ERA.. Pirate starters have a 0.64 ERA over their last four starts.. just 17 of 27 double plays turned so far this year have been groundball variety DP’s.. Jason Bay has 9 rbi’s in his last 6 games and is hitting .333 over that span.. the Pirates last won 6 consecutive games in 2004 when they rolled off 10 in a row right before the All-Star Game.
What others are saying:
The Reds come to town the day it is announced by Rand McNally that Pittsburgh ranked as the most livable city in America.
This series starts with another Friday night contest at PNC Park with the Pirates as the huge favorite in Vegas. In fact, the Pirates are favorites to win all three games and that’s not the kind of odds I like to see.
Oh – the numbers are there to support them being favorites:
– Pirates have a 2.84 ERA first 7 games at PNC, and our starters have a 1.59 ERA last 3;
– the Pirates have won 7 of their last 9 against the Reds at PNC;
– the Pirates are 7-0 when they out-hit their opponent which figures to be the case most of the games in this series;
– the Reds are hitting just .201 against right-handers last five and their team batting average is a horrid .243 their last 10 games placing them dead last in the NL;
– Reds have committed 13 errors in their last 7 games;
– since 4/14 when Rich Hill shut the Reds out, they have gone 4-8, been held to 2 runs or less in half of those games, and held to 6 hits or less in 8 of those 12 games.
No matter how you slice it and dice it, the Reds come in looking like the NL version of the Kansas City Royals.
But that’s the problem.
The Pirates have won 4 straight and only won 5 straight 2 times in 2006. Despite a 2.96 ERA in their last 8 starts, Reds starters are 1-3 mainly because their bullpen has imploded with a 7.94 ERA their last 5 games.
Pittsburgh has a depleted bullpen with two of their seven relievers unavailable, Salomon Torres the closer having been ripped from two consecutive games, and three of the five arms in the pen that are available with ERAs over 6 their last 3 games.
But what bothers me most about game 1 of this series is that Ian Snell does not pitch his best at PNC (24G, 5.16 ERA), the National Weather Service suggests the wind will be blowing straight out at 10 – 15 mph with gusts certain to be much higher, the Reds are 4th in the NL hitting home runs, and the Pirates are only hitting .204 against southpaws averaging less than 1 home run per game.
The keys to this series for the Pirates are going to be:
1. Our pitchers keeping the ball in the park;
2. Keeping Gonzalez and Hamilton from beating us;
3. Putting the ball in play and letting the Reds defenders make mistakes;
4. Xavier Nady’s availability because he wails Reds pitching;
5. Run, run, run if Valentin is behind the plate;
6. Deflate the Reds even more by hammering Milton in game 1.
Hopefully the Reds leave Pittsburgh thinking it’s a place they don’t want to come back to anytime soon.
Jason Bay is one home run away from becoming the 20th Pirate to hit 100 homers for the Bucs. It’s a safe bet he’ll get it tonight against Milton if he isn’t walked all night long.
Look for LaRoche to have the night off against Milton, or be dropped way down the order.
You first heard about avid Braves fans "LaRoche’s Ladies" selling all their Braves memorabilia so they could come watch their favorite player Adam LaRoche here at Bucco Blog [link].
After selling everything they owned, they were able to put together enough money to fund airplane tickets to come to Pittsburgh May 10-14th.
The Pirates were kind enough to provide tickets to the Saturday night game, but they still need tickets to the Friday night and Sunday game. They also need a hotel room during their stay.
So here’s your chance to help three college students who are quickly becoming avid Pirate fans. If you can help point them to cheap housing like college dorms, a hotel that will give them 4 nights for 3, or the like, send them an email.
Or if your just so rich you can’t stand it and want to help a few Pirate fans, go get them a hotel room and set them up with a meal allowance while they are in town.
They also need to know the ins-and-outs about seeing players, getting around the City, things to do, etc.
Their email: LaRoche’s Ladies
Who knows, a little bit of help to them just might help turn LaRoche’s game around because he is sure to know they are at the games. Or better yet, they might become taxpayers one day.