Meriweather Given an Assist in Angels Win
(Note – I don’t usually document my game posts this heavily but there are articles circulating that paint what I consider a highly inaccurate picture of this game and I felt my readers needed to experience the difference.)
May 4th, 2007 — Chuck Meriweather was calling the plate in the Brewers/Pirates series and Jim Tracy was all over him from the first inning on. In the 4th, a very frustrated Paul Maholm decided to tell Mr. Meriweather what he thought of him from the mound and Meriweather immediately started walking toward Maholm when Tracy ran out of the dugout and yanked him out of the game.
Yep – that was also the series Capps was suspended from for hitting Fielder, as well as the series I call Middle Infielder ****.
You see, Meriweather never had a chance the rest of that Brewers series to show the Pirates what he thought of them because they self-imploded the remaining two games. But he got his chance Friday night and he made sure Jim Tracy knew it was pay back time.
With the Pirates up 4-1 going into the bottom of the 7th, Marte took the mound. Napoli hit a sharp groundball to Bautista who booted it allowing Napoli an infield single.
Willits then hit a groundball between Bautista and the bag that went right under his glove and down into the left field corner where Bay booted it a second time, Napoli rounded third and Bay’s throw came into to Sanchez who easily should have had Napoli but his throw went between the sliding runner’s legs instead of to Paulino who had no chance to make a play because he couldn’t even see the ball. Willits took third on Sanchez’s errand throw.
The score was 4-2 now with a man at third and one out when Chacon relieved Marte. Cabrera then hit a line drive single into left scoring the runner and making the score 4-3, and Chacon shut them down the rest of the inning, including a flyball to McLouth by Guerrero that McLouth ran into the rubber padding in center hitting the side of his face.
The 8th inning started with Kendrick hitting yet another groundball under Bautista’s glove for a single, Hillenbrand hit groundball to LaRoche who threw to 2cd for the force, and Chacon took the relay for the double play.
But Meriweather said Chacon didn’t touch the bag.
As Chacon bounced the ball off the ground in anger, Meriweather took a long look right into the Pirates dugout at Jim Tracy who looked away. Replays clearly show Chacon touched the bag, albeit Chacon made the play too close with his poor footwork.
So instead of two outs and nobody on, there was one out and Hillenbrand was lifted for pitch runner Haynes. Chacon then got Napoli to fly out to center which should have ended the inning.
Willits came to the plate and ripped a line drive into left centerfield and Bay cut the ball off as Haynes was halfway to third. I assume Bay took it for granted Haynes would stop at third because he threw a moderately soft relay to Wilson about 20′ in front of second to the shortstop side of the bag as Haynes rounded the corner and headed home. Wilson’s relay was about 10′ up the third base line so Paulino had no chance even though he booted the throw anyway.
All thing being equal from that point on, the Bucs should have walked away 4-3 winners.
Capps pitched a scoreless 9th and 10th and then Tracy went to Bayliss and, 12 pitches later Cabrera hit a walkoff single scoring Figgins who had crushed a Bayliss heater for a triple.
Bayliss walked off the field with his third loss of the year and and a 9.40 June ERA that is just a click better than his 10.13 May ERA.
With Duke starting I expected middle infield **** from jump street and I didn’t have to wait long. On the first batter Wilson made a nice stop on a groundball in the hole but then sent an airmail package to the dugout allowing Willits to take second base.
If Jim Tracy didn’t play the infield in with one out later in the first, Willits would have scored because Bautista threw him out at the plate.
I have to admit Duke pitched a tad better than I though he would but I account that to the Angels batters wanting to pull his sinkerball instead of taking him the other way. Batter after batter grounded to short or third and Duke mostly scattered nine hits while allowing just one earned run.
I also noticed that Duke is now positioning himself in the middle of the rubber instead of on the far left and the end result is that right-hand batters hit the ball to Bautista instead of Wilson. We’ll have to see how this plays out over his next few starts.
Our offense managed four runs. In the first, Davis flaired a single into right then stole two bases, and Sanchez lined a ground rule double into the left field seats on a bounce scoring him.
In the third, Wilson lined a single into center and advanced to third on two wild pitches, Davis hit a soft line drive off the pitcher’s glove scoring Wilson for his first career rbi, and then Bay raked a Saunders 2-0 heater into the left field seats.
Overall we managed just eight hits, eleven total bases, and walked once.
Three of Sanchez’s throws were off the mark in this game – two of them relay throws home that should have nailed both runners, Wilson airmailed a throw of his own, Bay choked on two of his relay’s, and Bautista couldn’t handle three groundballs that went under his glove like he has Wilson-itis.
It’s a credit to Duke he managed to keep the Halo’s to one run despite all those blunders.
And it begs the question why Jose Castillo remains on the bench.
Pirates bullpen last 30 days: 6.43 ERA.
The Angels announcers spoke about Littlefield being after Kotchman this winter but settling on LaRoche instead. There’s no question we would have had to give up a Gorzelanny package to get Kotch, but you have to wonder if it might have been worth it in the long run.
Look for Kotch to play Saturday night.
Brad Eldred found a way to halt the strikeouts – swing at the first pitch every at bat like he did his first three trips to the plate Friday night. They all went for fly ball outs.
Did you see Jim Tracy’s comment about adding Josh Phelps to the roster? He said he could now spell LaRoche against lefties at times. He also specifically said using Phelps this way did not mean he plans to platoon LaRoche, and as Bill James told Bucco Blog he should make every attempt to keep LaRoche in the lineup.
But you have to wonder where this is going as LaRoche is now a career .217 hitter in the four hole and Bay is hitting better behind LaRoche than in front of him. Go figure.
Look for LaRoche to be placed down the lineup (six or seven hole) for the rest of the year.