Game #89: Rain, Walks Don’t Deter Bucs

PNC Park | 7:05 | Snell vs. Brandon Backe | Box
Neither rain nor walks can stop the Pirates. A lot of other things can. Three hours worth of rain delays (glad I didn’t stay up) and 10 walks issued by Pirate pitchers weren’t enough to prevent the Pirates from winning their second straight.
It took an 8th inning rally to do it. The Astros got five hits and the aforementioned 10 walks. But, only scored three times and all of those were courtesy of dingers – a solo homer by Hunter Pence and a homer with one on by Carlos Lee.
Nate McLouth homered in the sixth. He was up with the bases loaded and two gone in the 8th with the Bucs down just one thanks to a solo jack by the “of course he’s hot, it’s July” Adam LaRoche. He delivered a two run single to give the Bucs the lead. John Grabow won in relief and Damaso Marte earned the save.
Ian Snell’s and Brandon Backe’s nights were cut short by the rain. Neither answered the bell following the first rain delay that lasted about 2.5 hours. Snell was on the ropes as the rain started to come down, having tossed 88 pitches in 3-2/3 innings. He gave up just the homer to Pence. Grabow’s two innings were marred by four walks.

Pre-Game Thoughts
Brandon Backe’s 2008 got off to a great start. He allowed two runs or fewer in each of his first three starts. In his next 15 starts, he allowed two or fewer runs just three times. The result? A 5-9 record and an ERA on the wrong side of 5.00.
Backe was beaten by the Pirates on June 5, 2008. That was his first loss against Pittsburgh since 2004. Overall he is 4-2 with a 3.36 ERA against the Pirates. That includes six starts and three relief appearances.
The Pirates are just 22-99 against Backe. But, when they connect, they hit it hard. Among those 22 hits are seven homers, three doubles and a triple. Both Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche have hit two homers. Xavier Nady and Freddy Sanchez have combined to go just 2-23. Nady’s lone hit is a dinger.
All in favor of Ian Snell’s trip to the DL being enough to right his ship say, “Aye”. It’s unanimous. Over Snell’s last 31 starts he is 5-14 with an ERA of 5.39. He has not started since June 22 due to inflammation in his pitching elbow.
Snell has not faced Houston in 2008. He is 2-3 with a 3.91 ERA against the ‘Stros all-time. That is over nine appearances, eight of which were starts.
The Astros as a group are barely above .200 against Snell (14-64). Brad Ausmus (2-17) and Lance Berkman (3-16) have not done much damage. Berkman has walked five times and two of his hits are doubles.

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