Game #3 at Atlanta

Turner Field | 7:10 | Duke vs. Mike Hampton | Box
Have I mentioned that Xavier Nady would be MVP if the season ended now? He drove home the game winning run in the 10th as the Pirates stole the rubber match against Atlanta.
It wasn’t a pretty series. The Pirates bullpen imploded in the first two games and the defense was unattractive tonight, committing three errors and letting one run score in a way in which John Houseman wouldn’t have approved – it was unearned.
Jack Wilson committed one of the gaffes but tied the game up in the 7th but then promptly left with a calf injury. Freddy Sanchez left earlier in the game, presumably – as noted in the comments – with shoulder issues.
Zach Duke went with the “pitching to contact” philosophy. He struck out one – the pitcher – and walked one, while allowing 10 hits in 5-2/3 innings. The pen allowed just one hit over the next 4-1/3.
The 10th inning was one for the ages. Nyjer Morgan pinch hit and walked. Luis Rivas moved him up with a sac bunt. Jason Bay walked. Royce Ring relieved Chris Resop. But Resop stayed in the game in left field, shades of Teke – again as noted in the comments. Ring struck out LaRoche. Resop came back in and gave up the game winning stroke to Nady.
Nady’s hit made a winner of Tyler Yates who would’ve been the winner Opening Day if not for some ninth inning Keystone Cops routines by Pirate pitchers and fielders. 2-1 after three games and the Pirates have yet to put forth a solid complete effort. Could be worse.
Bobby Cox will be holding open tryouts for Braves bullpen positions. I think he tried to summon Rick Camp, Gene Garber and Joe Boever tonight. And was that John Rocker warming up?
With both Sanchez and Wilson out, I’m hopeful that the Pirates won’t see a steady dose of Chris Gomez and Rivas up the middle. I recall the 1987 Cubs who had Mike Brumley and Paul Noce fill in during the month of June when both Ryne Sandberg and Shawon Dunston were felled by injuries.

Pre-Game Thoughts
It wa supposed to be Paul Maholm tonight. He was scratched because of a stiff back and so Zach Duke will fire for the Bucs. Hopefully that won’t be a sign of things to come for Maholm in 2008.
Speaking of injuries, Mike Hampton will pitch his first game since August 2005. He has not faced the Pirates since 2003. To give you some perspective, MVN wasn’t even around in 2003. So, that was a while ago. As a team, the Pirates have 56 at bats against Hampton and Chris Gomez has 23 of them. Matt Morris has 12 ABs against Hampton. So, yep, the rest of the club is basically seeing him for the first time. In five at bats, Xavier Nady has four hits and a double off of Hampton.
As everyone recalls, Hampton signed an 8 year contract with the Rockies worth $121 million following the 2000 season. Over that span he has won 53 games, about an average of $2 million per win as he is due to make $15.6 in 2008 in the final year of the contract.
It would be fair to say that Duke scuffled last year. He didn’t fool many people last year or blow too many away as his K/9 ratio was less than 3.5. It showed in his record and ERA – 3-9 with an ERA+ of 79. For his career he is 1-2 with a 3.43 ERA against Atlanta. Jeff Francouer is 5-8 against him. The current Braves team is hitting a robust .333 collectively against Duke. As a former colleague would say, I sense danger.
As a Pirates fan in Dayton, OH who doesn’t have time to make worth the investment, I’d like to say that I miss the days when the WTBS showed nearly every Braves game. When I saw the Pirates schedule for 2008, I assumed I would be able to watch at least two of the three games on the tube. No dice.


39 Responses to “Game #3 at Atlanta”

  1. Brad Crouse Says:

    I agree about the TBS thing. Last night I was looking around for the game, found the Pens on FSN Pgh, so I went over to TBS. I was like, “WTF?” The one time I actually want to watch TBS for something other than Family Guy reruns and there are no Succo’s.

  2. Matt Bandi Says:

    It looks like Hampton has been scratched. RHP Jeff Bennett getting the start for the Braves.

  3. Randy Linville Says:

    Word is Hampton was shelved with a strained pectoral muscle.
    Bucs are up 2-0 at the end of four. No shock that Duke has not struck out anyone. However, he threw a first pitch strike or got a one pitch out on 11 of the 15 hitters he faced through 4.

  4. Matt Bandi Says:

    He just struck out the pitcher. Baby steps.
    Paulino with a nice block, keeping a man at second.

  5. Matt Bandi Says:

    Freddy out of the game. Hopefully he’s not having problems with his shoulder. He did rainbow a throw to first few innings ago. I wonder if it is bothering him.

  6. Aaron Benedict Says:

    It may be the cold weather. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

  7. Matt Bandi Says:

    Paulino and Duke seemed to be mixed up on that RBI single. Paulino stayed up and in expecting a fastball as the curveball dropped off the table. Pretty good pitch, but a nice piece of hitting by Diaz.

  8. Aaron Benedict Says:

    I think that Russell should have had someone ready to pitch this inning. Duke looks gassed.

  9. Matt Bandi Says:

    I don’t know. He didn’t have many balls hit hard. A few flare singles and now a costly error by Jack.
    But after laboring through this inning, you’re right. He has nothing left. Russell going to the bullpen now.

  10. Aaron Benedict Says:

    I think it’s more an issue of Duke had only thrown 5 innings twice in spring training. Add to that it being a coldish night and he was at almost 90 pitches through 5. To me that spells he needed to have someone ready in the 6th.
    Really bad error by Jack.

  11. Aaron Benedict Says:

    I think it’s more an issue of Duke had only thrown 5 innings twice in spring training. Add to that it being a coldish night and he was at almost 90 pitches through 5. To me that spells he needed to have someone ready in the 6th.
    Really bad error by Jack.

  12. Matt Bandi Says:

    Huge K by Osoria to keep us in the game. Time to get the bats going.

  13. Matt Bandi Says:

    More lousy defense by the Braves. Let’s take advantage.

  14. Aaron Benedict Says:

    Jack redeems himself and now hurts himself.

  15. Matt Bandi Says:

    Good to see Jack make up for his shaky defense last inning with a clutch hit. Hopefully he is not seriously injured.
    That’s two middle infielders down. Could be a problem later in this game.

  16. Aaron Benedict Says:

    Has there been any word on Freddy? I presume that Rivas moves over to short but who will be playing second? Mekievitch? 😉

  17. Matt Bandi Says:

    Rivas to short, Gomez stays in at second, Grabow pitching.
    And already an error by Rivas at short.

  18. Matt Bandi Says:

    The Trib speculates it is shoulder issues for Freddy, no official word.

  19. Aaron Benedict Says:

    I blame his shoes

  20. Matt Bandi Says:

    Unbelievable. I think I could field some of these groundballs.

  21. Aaron Benedict Says:

    I hope that there is extra infield practice tomorrow. I do like how Nate called off Bay this time.

  22. Aaron Benedict Says:

    Grabow gets around the shoddy fielding. Good job.

  23. Matt Bandi Says:

    Yes, he had to get five outs that inning.
    According to FSN, Freddy took out for precautionary reasons due to weather conditions. No word on Jack.
    Bay with another walk.

  24. Aaron Benedict Says:

    Good decision by Russell in starting Bay in a hit and run.

  25. Matt Bandi Says:

    Grabow looks good.

  26. Matt Bandi Says:

    Grabow looks good.

  27. Matt Bandi Says:

    An effective reliever is a wonderful sight.

  28. Aaron Benedict Says:

    Yates looks good as well.

  29. Matt Bandi Says:

    Yes he does. Extra frames again.
    FSN reports Jack is day to day with a strained calf.

  30. Aaron Benedict Says:

    Morgan walked and a good sacrafice.

  31. Matt Bandi Says:

    Third walk for Bay. He looks pretty comfortable and relaxed at the plate tonight.

  32. Matt Bandi Says:

    Bobby Cox getting creative. Puts his pitcher in left field so he can come back to the mound after LaRoche bats.

  33. Aaron Benedict Says:

    LaRoche has not looked good yet.

  34. Matt Bandi Says:

    Resop back to the mound. Kent Tekulve does not approve of Resop getting warmup pitches.

  35. Aaron Benedict Says:

    Maybe it’s me but this year’s team seem more willing to fight back when there is adversity.

  36. Matt Bandi Says:

    Okay let’s hold this lead. It looks like Nate and Nyjer are both heading out to the outfield.

  37. Aaron Benedict Says:

    think Nate would have had that ball? I’m just asking.

  38. Aaron Benedict Says:

    think Nate would have had that ball? I’m just asking.

  39. Matt Bandi Says:

    Maybe. He would have been more under control, but he might not have had the speed to get into position as quickly as Nyjer did.

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