PNC Park | 12:35 | Van Benschoten vs. Brandon Webb | Box
As I was in O’Hare today flying home, I caught the Pirates score as I stood watching the Cubs game on the TV. Along with the final score it noted that Micah Owings was the winner and John Van Benschoten took the loss. I thought, “That’s odd. Were both those guys pitching out of the bullpen? They didn’t both start did they?” So, I consulted the USA Today and sure enough, as I wrote in the pre-game notes below, Paul Maholm and Brandon Webb were scheduled to duel. Thanks to Cory for cleaning up the mess early on. As he noted, both players were scratched. I’m assuming, in addition to the official word from the Diamondbacks about moving Webb back, that they want to have him pitch against a team with some semblance of an offense as he would be more valuable in such a contest.
At any rate, Owings was so money. He allowed just four hits (and no runs) in 6-1/3 innings. He was lifted following a rain delay. On the other side, Owings contributed four hits (three doubles) and drove in three runs. I can’t imagine someone other than Owings winning the Silver Slugger.
JVB is a Terry Felton-esque 0-7 this year. Felton is the last player to lose double digits in a season in which he failed to notch a win. For his career, Felton was 0-16. JVB has done it pretty efficiently. He has only made 11 appearances and has lost seven times. Edgar Gonzalez lost in nine of his 10 appearances for Arizona in 2004.
On the positive side for the Pirates, Jack Wilson is in striking distance of .300. He had two more hits. Tony Armas pitched quite well out of the bullpen. In three innings of work he gave up just one run, two hits and no walks while striking out five. Juan Perez pitched two innings of hittless ball.
AP recap at Yahoo! Sports
Pirates Official Site
Diamondbacks Official Site
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Brandon Webb is a stud. He is 8-2 in his last 10 decisions. The Pirates are fortunate in that they have yet to face him in 2007. That might be the only break they caught all year. Webb is unbeaten in four career starts against the Pirates. He is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. He is 2-0 all-time in PNC with a 3.46 ERA.
Some Pirates in limited duty have done well against Webb. Nate McLouth is 4-6. Jose Castillo is 3-6. Jose Bautista is 3-4. Both Jack Wilson and Adam LaRoche are 3-10. Jason Bay is 0-12. Only LaRoche has a homer.
Paul Maholm is coming off a couple of rough outings. He failed to make it past the third inning in either of his last two starts. He is searching for his 11th win of the year. The D-backs have beaten him twice this year, once at home and once on the road. He is 6-7 with a 4.15 ERA at PNC in 2007. In four career starts against Arizona, Maholm is 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA.
Though none of the Snakes have homered off Maholm, not many of them have left the batters box scratching their heads. The club is collectively hitting over .400 off Maholm. Conor Jackson at 6-11 and Eric Byrnes at 6-10 have been the most frequent to punish Maholm.
[Cory’s note: John Van Benschoten gets the nod as Maholm is scratched from his start with the same bad back that’s troubled him for the past month or so. Paul’s done for the season. Chris Snyder is the only active Diamondback with a history against JVB: He’s 1 for 2 with a three-run homer.]