Game #9 vs. Chicago Cubs

PNC Park | 7:05 | Morris vs. Rich Hill | Box
Cubs fans busted out the brooms. The Pirates staked Matt Morris to an early 3-1 lead, thanks in part to Rich Hill’s inability to find the plate. After the Jon Lieber relieved him, the Pirates were unable to score anymore.
The Cubs took control of the game in the sixth inning. Morris started the inning by walking Kosuke Fukudome and then giving up a homer to Geovany Sosa. With the Pirates bullpen spent, Morris was left to fend for himself. It got worse after Ryan Theriot reached base and was caught stealing third. One problem – Jose Bautista watched the throw down to third and Theriot was safe. He scored on a single by Reed Johnson. Mike Fontenot capped the scoring with a two run dinger.
If there is good news from this contest it is that Even Meek mopped up and tossed two scoreless innings.
Brian Bixler is still in search of his first MLB knock.

Pre-Game Thoughts
Saw some of the Brewers/Reds game last night. It was an odd site to see Josh Fogg pitching to Jason Kendall when Kendall was hitting and not catching. Then I got to thinking about Fogg and how the major difference between Matt Morris and him right now is that Matty Mo was once an above average pitcher. He had a string of a couple of years where he was actually good. Fogg never did and so, while they seem to be somewhat comparable in their performance now, Morris makes considerably more money. If you just looked at their raw numbers from the past two seasons, the only thing that would make you think Morris is better is slightly more whiffs. Then when you back up and take a look at their complete careers, you naturally think Morris is better (or has the potential to be better) than Fogg because you think, “He did it once, maybe he can be good again.” That might not happen, of course, but the thought of it makes GMs pay more for a pitcher like Matt Morris than one like Josh Fogg.
Morris was hit for three earned runs in 5 innings in his first 2008 go-round. This will be Morris’ 28th career start against the Cubbies, second all-time for him behind Houston. He is 12-8 with a 4.50 ERA in his career vs. the Wriglies. He was 1-1 last year against them, including a win in September pitching for the Pirates.
While this crop of Cubs is only hitting .265 against Morris collectively, many of the boppers have done well. That grouop includes Aramis Ramirez (15-46 with three homers), Derrek Lee (11-31 with four homers), Daryle Ward (9-24 with a homer) and Alfonso Soriano (5-9 with a homer).
Rich Hill takes the pill for Chicago. It is unlikely that Hill will ever become a superstar or a household name. He is, after all, three weeks older than Chien-Ming Wang, two months older than Josh Beckett, four months older than C.C. Sabathia and six months older than Danny Haren.
In five career starts against the Buccos, Hill is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA. The Pirates on this year’s team have not done much against Hill. Their batting average as a group is .218. Jose Bautista is 0-13 and Jason Bay is 0-11. Only Ronny Paulino (6-13 with a dinger) has done much with Hill.
Ramblings
While on some levels I understand and certainly don’t disagree with the massive protests going on surrounding the Olympic torch relay, it is my belief that there will be no better means of getting improved human rights in China than to have the gates to the country left wide open for the world to visit. So, the Olympics are a huge step in that direction. The best way to lead a country or region out of a general depression of ideas and creativity is to expose it to foreign ideas and thoughts. Much of the credit to the end of the Middle Ages and the start of the Renaissance is given to the advent of international trade routes. Boycotting and protests won’t do anything. I don’t think the average Chinese citizen is getting the news that people in France and in California are upset enough to protest the Olympic torch run.

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