Hampton Beats Bucs (Again)

Mike Hampton has not lost to the Pirates this decade. That streak continued as Hampton allowed just one run, three hits and three walks in seven very effective innings.

Virgil Vasquez certainly was fine. He gave up a two run triple to Geoff Blum in the first and a two run double to Miguel Tejada in the fifth. He retired the side in order in three of his six innings.

The Pirates outburst came in the 7th. Garrett Jones led off with a double and Robinzon Diaz singled with two out to bring him in, getting thrown out at second in the process to end the inning.

The Good

Diaz had two of the three hits.

Evan Meek whiffed the side in the 8th. Jose Valverde returned the favor in the 9th.

The Bad

Daggone. The offense.

Freddy Sanchez was out again.

The Rest

Hampton’s last loss to Pittsburgh was 5/30/99. Mike Benjamin (of all people) did the heavy lifting in that one with a bases clearing double in the second in support of Kris Benson. Since then Hampton has won all 10 of his starts against the Pirates, including four this year. In that span he allowed one run or fewer in eight of the 10 games.

No complaints about Diaz and Jason Jaramillo in the absence of Ryan Doumit. Thus far for 2009, Pirate catchers are third in the NL in RBI with 45 (tied with Atlanta and trailing the Mets and Giants).

Pirates are 37-46 just past the halfway point. Through 83 games last year the Pirates were 39-44 and 10.5 games out. In 2009 the Pirate trail St. Louis by 7 games.

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Bucs Lose Rollercoaster

From up five early to a 9th inning comeback against Francisco Rodriguez to losing it in the 10th, this one had it all. All except a Pirates win, that is. This one was delayed by rain and it was a make up for an earlier rain out. Striking an irony chord somewhere.

The Pirates jumped on Tim Redding early for five runs. Garrett Jones and Robinzon Diaz each had three hits and two RBI. However, Paul Maholm couldn’t hold the lead as the Mets scored eight runs in the middle three frames.

The Pirates tied it up in the 9th off of Rodriguez when Adam LaRoche stroked a two run dinger. But, the Mets countered with a run in the 10th off Matt Capps as Ryan Church singled in Fernando Tatis, who had homered earlier in the game. Rodriguez tossed a perfect 10th to lock it down.

Maholm went 4-1/3 and gave up six runs and 11 hits. Redding gave up five runs and got just seven outs.

The Good

Garrett Jones was single short of the cycle.

The Bad

Delwyn Young was held hitless again and was tossed for arguing balls and strikes.

The Rest

Former Bucco Elmer Dessens made his 4th appearance of the year in relief for NYM.

This was the first time all year that Maholm gave up more than four runs in a home start. He has never been touched for more than six runs in a start at PNC.

The last Pirate to have a double, triple and homer in the same game before his 50th career game was Richie Hebner way back on 5-4-69. Garrett Jones did it today.

Tatis scored four times, establishing a single game high for his career.

Welcome Jeff Salazar. Bucs most recent recall from Louisville was 0-1 in a pinch hitting role in his Bucco debut.

 

Cutch’s First Career Dinger Paces Pirates Offense

Andrew McCutchen, Andy LaRoche and Adam LaRoche each homered and drove in a pair of runs as Ian Snell won for just the second time all year.

McCutchen hit a two run homer in the third. After Joe Crede’s two RBI knock tied the score in the home half of the fourth, Andy LaRoche hit a two run blast in the fourth to give the Priates the lead for goo.

Adam LaRoche added a solo dinger and an sac fly later in the game and Robinzon Diaz drove in two with a double.

Snell went six innings. He gave up five hits, three walks and two runs. Francisco Liriano was touched for four runs on eight hits in seven innings. John Grabow pitched two innings and Steven Jackson mopped up.

The Good

Happy with Snell’s outing and would glady take more.

The brothers LaRoche share for the active roster lead in RBI

The Bad

Delwyn Young only had one hit. He is clearly slumping.

The Rest

This was Snell’s second win of the year. Win #2 last year came on 4/12 of 2008. But his third win of 2008 didn’t come until June 11. So, he’s not that far behind the pace.

Joe Mauer is hitting .425 but is 41 at bats away from qualifying for the leader boards.

Andrew McCutchen is the third Pirate rookie to record his first career dinger this year (Robinzon Diaz and Jason Jaramillo). He homered in his 13th game. Bucco rookies who have homered in the first 10 games this decade:

Robinzon Diaz – 7th game- 2009

Nate McLouth – 9th game – 2005

Ray Sadler – 3rd game – 2005

John Van Benschoten – 2nd game – 2004

Jose Castillo – 8th game – 2004

Andy Barkett – 9th game – 2001

Rob Mackowiak – 9th game – 2001

Craig Wilson – 4th game – 2001

Adam Hyzdu – 6th game – 2000

Alex Hernandez – 7th game – 2000

Tike Redman – 7th game – 2000

 

 

 

 

D-Train Wild as Pittsburgh Beats Detroit (Again)

It has been an ugly descent into mediocrity for Dontrelle Willis. A player who used to play with such enthusiasm. I hope he can recover the form that he once had. In the meantime, the Pirates took advantage of his wildness (8 walks) to score six runs off him in 3-2/3 IP. It could’ve been much worse. D-Train got out of a third inning bases loaded none out jam.

Robinzon Diaz drove home three with a first inning sac fly and a two run single in the fourth after Willis was pulled in favor of Zach Miner.

Ross Ohlendorf was the recipient of early support. He allowed just two hits and two walks in four innings of effort. Steven Jackson gave up two runs in relief before the Grabow/Capps combo nailed down the win.

The Good

Impressive start for Ohlendorf. It was the third time this year he let up two hits in a start.

Starting in RF Delwyn Young had three singles.

Bucs hitters collected 11 walks. 

The Bad

Bucs left 14 men on base.

The Rest

Young has a streak of six straight starts with multiple hits.

This was the first three RBI game of Diaz’ career.

This was the first time since May 6 against St. Louis that the team had more walks earned that whiffs. Last time the Pirates drew 10 walks in a nine inning game was 4-12-04. Last time they drew more than 11 walks was 5-1-99.

Pittsburgh had nine hits – all singles. Last time the Bucs hit double digits in hits with none going for extra bases was 6-22-08.

Former Pirate and Pittsburgh area native Don Kelly had his first hit since 5-19-07, had his first two hit day in the Majors, had his first RBIs in the majors and had his first ML XBH.

Karstens Sharp as Bucs Win

Jeff Karstens looked good over seven innings, allowing just two runs and seven hits. He surrendered three singles, three doubles and a walk in needing just 87 pitches to get that deep.

The Pirates jumped on Wandy Rodriguez immediately, utilizing a walk and four singles to plate three runs in the first.

Eric Hinske had three hits, Jack Wilson had a pair of doubles, Robinzon Diaz drove in two and Freddy Sanchez collected two more hits to pace the Pirates attack.

Trailing 7-2 heading into the 9th, Houston loaded the bases with two outs off Tom Gorzelanny. Matt Capps was called in – his first appearance since being hit in the elbow by a liner. He forced home two runs with a BB and an HBP before getting Carlos Lee to end it.

The Good

Karstens

Sanchez is hitting .333 now

The Bad

Would like to see Gorzy and Capps get squared away.

The Rest

Brandon Backe made his first appearance of 2009. He was sidelined with a strained “intercoastal” muscle. It has been a tough couple of months for Backe as he was also arrested at a wedding reception in the off season.

Sanchez has 14 hits in his last 22 at bats.

Adam LaRoche, Nate McLouth and Brandon Moss were kept out of the starting line up. John Russell penciled in Andy LaRoche into the second spot – the highest in the batting order he has hit all season – and he responded with a single and a double.

Rodriguez gave up five earned runs for the first time this year. He gave up six runs to Cincinnati in his last start, but they were all unearned. August 5, 2008 was the last time Rodriguez gave up five or more earnies.

Wellemeyer Dominant as Bucs Swoon Continues

Todd Wellemeyer allowed just four hits in seven innings to keep the Pirates offense at bay. On the other side of the ball, Ross Ohlendorf was done in by a four run fifth inning that included a solo homer from Jason LaRue leading off, a bunt single and two HBP. Prior to that outburst, it was a 1-1 contest.

Ohlendorf was charged with all five St. Louis runs in six innings. Wellemeyer gave up a run scoring double to Nate McLouth and Robinzon Diaz’ first career homer. That was the extent of the offense for Pittsburgh.

The Pirates have lost five straight and 9 of 10 to fall to four games under .500

The Good

Diaz’ first career homer is about it.

The Bad

Losing 9 of 10 is enough to make this weary fan lose all hope. Almost.

The Rest

Including 2009, LaRue’s BA over his last 536 at bats coming into this game (2006 – 2009) was a meager .190. This was his first homer of 2009 and his last since 8/20/08 also against Pittsburgh (Craig Hansen).

Wellemeyer has won his last four of his last five decisions against the Pirates. His loss came earlier in this season.

Ohlendorf, Adam LaRoche Take Series from San Diego

Ross Ohlendorf settled in after allowing a two run bomb to Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning. He pitched into the 8th and gave way after giving up a pinch hit homer leading off the 8th to Edgar Gonzalez.

The Pirates offense worked early off Jake Peavy to erase the 2-0 deficit. Robinson Diaz drove in a pair of runs in the fourth with a two out single. Adam LaRoche hit a three run dinger in the next frame to break the tie.

Freshly recalled Brian Bixler stroked a two run double in the 8th and LaRoche homered again (solo) in the 8th for the final tally.

Ohlendorf gave up just five hits in his 7+ innings. He walked three and whiffed two.

The Good

Ohlendorf’s effort will be accepted all year long. Count me surprised at the early impact of the pitching staff.

Adam LaRoche is not just having a decent April. He’s actually having a good April. I was hoping for something other than a total bust. This is June/July type of production from him.

Don’t look now buy Andy LaRoche’s average is up to .264 after a 2-5 day.

Bucs travel to Milwaukee for three more games to close out April. With today’s win, the Pirates have guaranteed a winning April.

The Bad

Nyjer Morgan was CS for the second time this year.

The Rest

The middle of the Pirates infield included four guys who were not Opening Day starters at those positions- Robinson Diaz (C), Brian Bixler (SS), Ramon Vazquez (2B) and Morgan in CF.

This was the earliest two homer game in the season in LaRoche’s career. He had two dingers for Atlanta on 5/28/06. But he had never cranked two in April.

According to baseball-reference.com, Ohlendorf has been giving up more fly balls than ground balls. Today he retired 15 hitters on grounders and just three on fly balls. That’s good news.

John Grabow finished with two innings of work. It was his longest outing since 7/27/08, also against San Diego.