Reds Pour it on and Clobber Buccos

Don’t even know how to start with this one. Offense – weak. Starting pitching – not sharp. Relief pitching – yuck. Defense – one error leading to an unearned run. Add it all up and you have a blow out.

Kevin Hart managed to scatter 13 outs among the 8 runs he gave up. Homer Bailey allowed just four hits and two runs in six innings. All told the Pirates managed just five hits. Joey Votto alone had four hits. Five different Reds knocked in two runs. Virgil Vasquez gave up three runs in the 9th.

The Good

Andrew McCutchen had two doubles and an outfield assist

The Bad

All the aforementioned stuff.

The Rest

Homer Bailey has six wins in 2009. Three of them are against the Pirates in the last month.

This was Votto’s fifth career four hit game. His seven hits over the last two games set a career mark for him.

Cutch’s doubles put him in the top five among MLB rookies in too many categories for me to count – runs, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases, hits, etc. It’s a close race in both leagues for Rookie of the Year. No one is having a monster year.

Hart has dropped six straight starts.

Brandon Phillips now has 17 RBIs against the Pirates in 2009.

Bucs need to go 7-5 to avoid 100 losses.



Bucs Can’t Overcome Duke’s Ugly First

Inventing new ways to lose nightly. That could be the motto for next year.

The Cubs opened the game with eight consecutive hits. The Pirates collected just nine hits all game and the Cubs had that many before anyone was out. Amazingly, Zach Duke actually survived that to pitch four innings and give up a total of 12 hits and eight earnies.

Virgil Vasquez got to mop up and the beneficiary of that support was Ryan Dempster. He gave up eight hits in 6-1/3 to get the win.

Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome each drove in two runs in the seven run first inning. Garrett Jones hit a solo homer for the Pirates – his 19th on the season.

The Good


Five innings of two hit ball from the bullpen

The Bad

Are you kidding?

The Rest

The eight straight hits to start the game ties a record. Last time it happened was 9/25/90 when the Bombers did it to the O’s. The victims were rookie Anthony Telford (no outs and six hits allowed) followed by rookie Mickey Weston (gave up the final two hits before pitching three innings overall). Not sure if there is any significance in this, but Kevin Maas hit his 20th homer in that game for the Yanks. Not that I’m comparing him to Garrett Jones.

The first out in tonight’s game was a sac bunt from Dempster. That was kind of Lou Piniella. A groundout from Oscar Azocar was the first out on 9/25/90.

Back on 9/25/90, the Pirates were in the early stages of a seven game winning streak that would keep them ahead of the Mets on their way to the division crown. Also back then, no one knew who Barack Obama was. No one realized that the Rangers (and future president George W.Bush) had made a mistake by trading Sammy Sosa to the White Sox. Pete Rose was still denying his involvement in gambling on baseball. Memories…


McCutchen Explodes for 3 Dingers as Bucs Roll

In the midst of so much negative press regarding the dismantling of a last place club, it is nice to know that the Pirates will be getting some good publicity as the result of some on the field play. Rookie Andrew McCutchen hit three homers, drove in six and scored four times asn the Pirates beat up on Washington.

McCutchen homered in the first, the fourth and the sixth. He singled and scored in the third.

All the fireworks went to support Virgil Vasquez’ second career win. It wasn’t a pretty outing for him. He gave up nine hits and two walks in five innings. But the Nats only scored three times.

Rookie Craig Stammen took the loss, giving up six runs in three innings.

The Good


Five hitters collected two knocks or more

The Bad

Nothing. Just bask in the McCutchen glow.

The Rest

Former Pirate Ron Villone tossed 2-1/3 of scoreless, one hit ball in relief. The lone hit was a double from Garrett Jones. He got McCutchen to ground into an inning ending DP to prevent a fourth dinger.

Nyjer Morgan was 3-4, but made an error.

McCutchen is the first Pirate to hit three bombs in a game since Aramis Ramirez on 4/8/01. Going all the way back to the beginning of the Retrosheet era, McCutchen is the first Pirate rookie with three homers in a game. There might be someone earlier than the mid-1950s. But I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head who was a rookie for the Pirates and launched three dingers.

Cutch is the first Pirate to hit three homers in Pittsburgh since Darnell Coles on 9/30/87. He is the first Pirate to hit three homers in the same game off three different pitchers since Dr. Strangeglove Dick Stuart connected off of Mike McCormick, Billy Loes and Stu Miller back on 6/30/60.



Bucs Shut Out Again

Don’t even know what to write. Max Scherzer tossed seven shutout innings for his first win in a month. He struck out eight. He allowed just five singles. Gerardo Parra drove in four runs and Mark Reynolds hit a two run homer to pace the Arizona attack. The Diamondbacks scored four runs off of Virgil Vasquez and he lasted just three innings.

The Good


The Bad

The offense. Broken record.

The Rest

This was Scherzer first career start against Pittsburgh and the third time in 2009 he struck out 8 or more.

This was the second time this season the Pirates were blanked on consecutive days.



Looper Closes Down Bucs

Early to bed and early to rise means I don’t have time to post the day of the game. My apologies. Not much was missed. Braden Looper stopped the Pirates on four hits and three walks in seven shutout innings. Trevor Hoffman got the save in the 9th.

Virgil Vasquez deserved better. He went 6-2/3 and allowed two runs on nine hits. Prince Fielder had a pair of RBI singles. Vasquez walked none and struck out four and probably earned himself another start or two.

The Good

No complaints about Vasquez tonight.

Evan Meek tossed two scoreless innings.

The Bad

Wow. The offense. Ugh.

The Rest

Looper is 4-2 against the Pirates as a starter. In seven career starts he has allowed more than three runs just once.


Happ, Feliz Help Phils Complete Sweep

The Pirates limped into the All-Star break having been swept by their cross-state rivals. Pedro Feliz poked a first inning grand slam and J.A. Happ limited the Pirates to one run on four hits and two walks in seven innings.

Virgil Vasquez didn’t live to see the third inning. After giving up five runs in the first inning, Vasquez put two on with one out in the second and was pulled for Jeff Karstens. The Pirates bullpen was stingy, allowing just two hits and one walk the final 7-2/3 innings of the game. Karstens tossed 3-2/3 of no hit baseball.

The Pirates offense consisted of an RBI double from Freddy Sanchez (who had two hits), knocking in Andrew McCutchen (who also had two hits) and a solo homer in the 9th from Garrett Jones.

The Good

Bucs can’t lose tomorrow.

Karstens was effective, whiffing four. Have to believe he will get another shot as a starter in the 2nd half.

The Bad


Bucs hit into three double plays – one traditional, one unassisted DP at the hands of Chase Utley and one fake out job that got McCutchen doubled off first on a fly ball from Sanchez.

Vasquez got knocked around. I don’t think he’ll have too many more chances.

The Rest

Jones has homered in three straight games.

Karstens lowered his ERA as a reliever to 2.70 with his effort today.

This was Happ’s first appearance against the Pirates. He is unbeaten in six decisions in 2009.

Bucs are 38-50 after 88 games. At the same point last year, the club was 41-47. Bucs need to go 44-30 the rest of the way to avoid a sub .500 season.

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.