Reds Shutout Bucs to End 2009 Season

I was on hand to watch the 2009 season come to a close for my hometown club and my favorite club. Jeff Karstens vs. Homer Bailey at Great American on a mostly sunny mid-60s October afternoon. It was a great day for baseball.

But I was perturbed almost from the get-go. Luis Cruz and Jason Jaramillo were carrying on a conversation with one another during the National Anthem. That is not acceptable. Not at any time. If you don’t want to observe the singing/playing of the Star Spangled Banner, then stay in the clubhouse (like what Rudy Law used to do back in the 1980s). Don’t stand on the field and converse.

Brandon Phillips continued to bash Pirate pitching. He drove in the first three Cincinnati runs with a double off the wall, a grounder and another double off the wall. After Phillips third RBI, Scott Rolen tripled past a diving Andrew McCutchen to score two more runs.

Jeff Karstens got the loss by giving up two runs in 2-1/3 IP. But it was Donnie Veal who was hit the hardest – one inning, four hits and four runs allowed.

It was 2-0 after three and 6-0 after five innings. Homer Bailey as plugging away, leaving men on base in every inning but one of his six frames of toil. Especially troubling was the fifth. Steve Pearce tripled to lead off. Andrew McCutchen walked and stole second. Two one, none out, heart of the order coming up. But, Bailey whiffed Andy LaRoche, Garrett Jones and Lastings Milledge with no damage done.

The Good

Well, I hate to see the season end. But I guess I’m glad this one is over.

McCutchen had two hits, two walks and stole twice.

The weather.

The Bad

Veal’s outing put the game out of reach.

LaRoche left five men on base.

The Rest

The Reds honored the retiring Hal McCoy (Hall of Fame sportswriter from the Dayton Daily News) and George Grande, who does play by play for Fox Sports Ohio between innings. A great moment. Love Hal McCoy. George Grande has always been solid. Trivia buffs know that Grande was the first ever anchor of Sportscenter on ESPN.

Bailey won all four of his starts against the Pirates this year, accounting for half of his 8 wins.

Brandon Phillips drove in 21 runs against Pittsburgh in 2009.

Pirates were shut out for the 17th time in 2009. This was the first time they hit double digits in hits and failed to score.

 

 

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Dempster Shuts Down Buccos

Ryan Dempster tossed a complete game shutout. That’s all you really need to know. Beyond that, the details are that the Pirates defense – a low toss from Garrett Jones to Kevin Hart covering first and a miscue from Delwyn Young – allowed three unearned runs to score.

Dempster allowed five hits, walked two and whiffed five. Hart went four and gave up six runs (three were earned as previously noted). He gave up six hits and hurt himself with four walks.

Derrek Lee, Micah Hoffpauir and Jeff Baker drove in two runs each for Chicago.

The Good

The bullpen went five scoreless innings.

Andy LaRoche had a pair of doubles.

The Bad

The lack of offense is staggering.

The Rest

Dempster’s last shutout came in 2001.

The Pirates have been shutout 16 times in 2009. That’s four more than the next closest. Last time the Pirates were shutout with more frequency was 1985 when they were blanked 19 times.

Probably a toss up between Torii Hunter and Derrek Lee as to who the second best player was from the 1993 draft. The best was of course A-Rod.

Duke, LaRoche Lead Pirates Over LA

Gomer Pyle: Surprise, surprise, surprise

The Pirates took three of four from the front running Dodgers. Zach Duke was inexplicably pulled from the game sporting an 11-1 lead with no one on and one in with two gone in the 9th. He allowed just one run over those 8-2/3 IP while striking out six. He won his career best 11th of the season.

On the offense, Andy LaRoche busted out with a pair of homers and six RBI. He missed the cycle by a triple. He singled twice and double to total five hits and four runs along with his half dozen ribbies. Is there hope for him yet? Andrew McCutchen singled three times and scored three runs. Garrett Jones dingered for the 21st time and knocked in two runs.

Hiroki Kuroda was victimized for seven runs in four innings. Just three were earned as an error on the first batter of the third inning by Mark Loretta opened the door to a five run outburst by the Smokey City Nine.

The Good

Duke’s effort was deserving of a complete game shot. Not sure why John Russell would pull him. Duke threw 103 pitches.

The newbies – LaRoche, Jones and McCutchen.

The Bad

Bucs made two errors

More of this wasn’t around three months ago.

The Rest

LaRoche’s previous single game best was three RBI back on 6-1-09. Prior to this afternoon, he’d had five games in which he collected three hits and exactly zero four hit games. This was his first career two homer game. This was also the first time he scored more than twice in one game. This was the third game in 2009 in which a Pirates collected six RBI. Andrew McCutchen and (gasp) Craig Monroe have the other two.

This was the 7th time in 2009 that Duke went at least 8 innings. He had just six such outings in the last three seasons combined. He lowered his season ERA to under four with this effort.

Bucs Stage Improbable Comeback in Victory

Daniel McCutchen almost got the win. The Pirates were 9 outs away, clinging to a one run lead. Luis Cruz mishandled an inning ending DP grounder in the 7th, allowing the tying run to score. No decision for McCutchen (6 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs).

In the 9th, LA put their first three runners on base en route to scoring three times off of Matt Capps. At that point, whatever slight breeze that was keeping my sails half empty dissipated entirely. No hope.

But yet, there was. With Jonathan Broxton on in the 9th, the Pirates came all the way back. Andy LaRoche singled in one run. With the bases loaded, Lastings Milledge delivered what should have been a game tying single. But the ball scooted past Andre Ethier and Garrett Jones scored all the way from first with the game winning run. Woo hoo!

That made a winner of Capps and hung Broxton with the loss. Clayton Kershaw made the start for LA and was pulled after four innings as he is coming off a hiatus from pitching due to a separated shoulder.

The Good

Taking at least two of four from LA. Going for the series win tomorrow!

McCutchen pitched well.

Andrew McCutchen had three hits. LaRoche and Milledge each drove in two.

The Bad

The 7th and the 9th defensive half innings.

The Rest

LaRoche had just his fourth multi-RBI game of the second half of the year.

This was Andrew McCutchen sixth game with three or more hits.

This was the fifth time in 2009 that Capps has allowed three or more runs in a single outing. He had just four such incidents in 2007 and 2008 combined.

Pirates need to go 5-3 to avoid a 100 loss season.

Dodgers Walk to Victory

It looked okay for a brief period. The Pirates rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Randy Wolf had held the Pirates to just a solo homer from Andy LaRoche through six. But Andrew McCutchen’s two run single put the Pirates up 4-3 with just six outs to play.

But the Pirates bullpen came undone. LA scored four runs in the 8th inning, due in large part to four walks issued by three different Pirate relievers. Jim Thome’s first two RBI as a Dodger came via a pinch hit single in that fateful 8th inning. Two other runs were forced home due to bases on balls. Denny Bautista started it, couldn’t finish it and was tabbed the loser. That made a winner of George Sherrill who had gotten the last out for the Dodgers in the 7th.

Wolf – 6-1/3 IP, 2 earned runs on four hits with five walks – and Bucs starter Paul Maholm were left without a decision. Maholm lasted seven and gave up the first three Dodger runs. He gave up seven hits and struck out only one.

The Good

A comeback – almost.

The Bad

All the walks.

The leaky bullpen.

And all the losing in general.

The Rest

Buc pitchers surrendered a total of 8 walks. This was the 7th time all year the club has put that many men on base via free pass. The offense has received that many walks or more just three times this year.

In case you didn’t know, the Pirates have scored the fewest runs in the NL this season. What the second half have looked like without Garrett Jones?

Luis Cruz had his second two hit game of 2009 and drove in his second run on the year.

Since acquring Thome from Chicago, Joe Torre has deployed the slugger only as a pinch hitter. He has been spelling James Loney with Mark Loretta. Thome came into the game hitting just .211 for his career as a pinch hitter. Manny Mota he is not.

Randy Wolf is 7-1 career vs. Pittsburgh. His last loss to the Smoky City Nine was June 30, 2000. Wolf is 3rd all-time in wins among pitchers born in 1976. He is behind Javier Vazquez and Ted Lilly. He is tied with Kelvim Escobar. Also born that year include three members of the Pirate family – Jimmy Anderson, Victor Santos and Brandon Duckworth (Spring Training only for Duckworth).

Bucs most go 6-3 to avoid 100 losses.

No Joke: Bucs Beat LA

I’ll take a win, no matter how unorthodox. Jeff Karstens, coming off the DL and having not thrown more than 60 pitches in a game since his last start in June, started and was on a quick hook. He pitched three mostly effective innings (one run and three hits), but was pulled after 48 pitches. In his place came Donnie Veal at the best of times. The Bucs were up and the starter hadn’t gone five. Thanks to two scoreless innings from Veal and shutout efforts from three others – including a perfect 9th from Matt Capps – Veal picked up his first career W.

The Pirates scored three unearned runs off Jon Garland. Blake DeWitt’s error in the first led to a sac fly from Garrett Jones. James Loney’s miscue in the third set up a two run, two out single from Brandon Moss.

Garland went six, gave up three unearned runs and whiffes six. He allowed six hits – five singles and a double.

The Good

A win.

Good pitching. Pirate starters walked none!

The Bad

Continued offensive woes.

The Rest

Last time the Pirates won a game in which the starter didn’t pitch five innings was 7-22-09 when Paul Maholm left after 4-2/3 in an 8-7 win over Milwaukee.

There are only four players in the Majors right now under the age of 30 with more than 100 career wins. Jon Garland is one of them. The others are Josh Beckett, C.C. Sabathia and Carlos Zambrano.

Moss has had three different two RBI games in September – his most of any month this year.

Last time the Pirates walked zero hitters in a game was August 22nd against Cincinnati.

Rajai Davis was in Sports Illustrated this week. Got me thinking – I hadn’t looked up his numbers in a while. So, how is the Rajai Davis Phenomenon doing? Let’s just say he is clearly having a better season than Moss is. Not really even close.

10 games left. Pirates need to go 6-4 to avoid 100 losses.

 

Padres Earn Series Win in Extras

It was a nice comeback and it was good to see some fight in the fellas. The Pirates scored three in the 8th and one in the 9th to send the game to extra innings. But Jeff Karstens was torched for five runs in the extra frame as San Diego took 3 of 4.

Daniel McCutchen (6 IP, 8 hits, three runs, zero whiffs) was on the hook for the loss. Until Luke Gregerson gave up three runs in the 8th and Heath Bell uncharacteristically blew a 9th inning save. That took away a win from rookie Wade LeBlanc (5 IP, 5 hits, one run, five strike outs).

It was a 3-2 game coming into the 8th. But Chase Headley (solo) and Nick Hundley (two run) hit homers off of Jesse Chavez to push the lead to four runs. But Andrew McCutchen’s two run double off of Gregerson keyed the 8th inning rally. The Pirates loaded the bases with no one out in the 9th off of Bell, but managed just the tying run.

Headley’s RBI double in the 11th opened the scoring in that frame and was his fifth hit of the game. That outburst made a winner of Sean Gallagher.

The Good

The comeback.

Garrett Jones hit his 20th homer.

The Bad

Karstens got hit hard.

Another loss.

Only getting one run off of Heath Bell in the 9th.

The Rest

That was the 9th time this year that Headley has had three or more hits. It was his first three double game in his career. Combined Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss only have six games with three or more hits.

Phil Dumatrait tossed a scoreless inning of relief. He has been scored on in six of his 11 appearances.

Adrian Gonzalez drove in two runs to reach 92 RBI. He is trying to become the first Padre ever to knock in 100 runs in three straight seasons. Only one other Padre – Phil Nevin – recorded three different 100 RBI seasons.