Pujols PH HR Delivers 81st Loss

Poor Ross Ohlendorf. Let’s hope he can pitch like this in 2010 and get more favorable results. With Tony LaRussa resting many of his regulars (Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday among others didn’t start), Ohlendorf struck out 11, walked one and allowed just one unearned run in eight innings. On the other side Mitchell Boggs was also tough againstt he punchless Pirates. The Bucs lone tally was an RBI double from Lastings Milledge that scored Garrett Jones.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the 9th but came up empty.

In the 10th, Albert Pujols clobbered a pitch from Matt Capps for a dinger – about a month after Capps hit him with a pitch and was tossed.Ryan Franklin put two runners on in the bottom of the 10th, but the Pirates failed to tie it up.

The Good

Ohlendorf pushed his ERA under 4.00.

Jones and Milledge combined for five of the Pirates six hits. Jones had three hits and walked twice.

The Bad

Gah – 81 losses.

The offense.

The Rest

Ohlendorf whiffed the side on 9 pitches in the seventh (Khalil Greene, Julio Lugo and Jason LaRue). He became the 40th pitcher ever and the second Pirate ever to do it. Jeff Robinson got Leon Durham, Andre Dawson and Rafael Palmeiro in the 8th inning back on 9/9/87 pitching in relief.

Jones reached base five times in one game for the first time in his career.

Ohlendorf’s 11 whiffs area high water mark for Pirate hurlers in 2009. He and Paul Maholm each tallied 8, in a start. No Pirate starter reached 11 whiffs since Ian Snell on 4/3/07 – his first start of the year. Last time someon got 12 strike outs was Kip Wells (winner for the Reds last night) on 7/5/05.

This was the longest career outing for Mitchell Boggs. His previous high in innings of work was six. This was also a career best in innings for Ohlendorf.

Give Pujols the MVP now.

 

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Cards Clobber Hart, Bucs Bullpen in a Laugher

The losing streak has reached 8 games. Kevin Hart was torched as the Pirates fell behind 5-0 early on. The offense put up a six spot in the fifth frame off of Adam Wainwright. The final three runs scored on a two run bloop triple from Brandon Moss that turned into a little league homer as an error from Skip Schumaker allowed Moss to score.

The lead didn’t last. Hart was pulled with two gone in the sixth and Denny Bautista allowed a three run homer to Albert Pujols. St. Louis tacked on six more runs over the next two innings to pull away easily.

Ryan Ludwick had a career night. He was 5-5 with two homers, two doubles and five runs driven in. Matt Holliday, whose BA is approaching .400 with the Cards, also homered.

Wainwright allowed six earned runs in five innings. Hart gave up five earned runs and seven overall in 5-2/3.

The Good

Well, there was some offense. Lastings Milledge batted clean up and continuest to rake – he had two more hits. Ryan Doumit had three singles.

The Bad

The pitching. Only Chris Bootcheck looked decent. Phil Dumatrait gave up four runs in 1/3 of an IP.

Eight straight losses with two more games against the Cardinals this weekend.

The Rest

Bautista came into the game unscored upon in 2009 over six innings and four outings.

This was just the second time this year that Wainwright allowed six runs or more. He held on enough and got enough support to get the win tonight.

Millege was hitting .396 over his last sixteen games before tonight.

The five RBI tied Ludwick’s career high, as did the two homers. Five hits and 13 total bases established single game marks for his career.

Hart’s ERA with the Wriglies was 2.60. With Pittsburgh it is on the ugly side of 6.00.

This was the 9th time in 2009 that opponents had reached double digits in runs against the Pirates. It was the 10th time that opponents had tallied 15 or more knocks. Those stats for 2008? 23 times giving up 10 or more runs and 20 times giving up 15 or more hits.

 

Schumakers PH Dinger Keys Card Comeback, Sweep

Matt Capps entered early – with one out in the 8th – and promptly lost the game. He allowed a pinch hit homer to the first batter he faced – Skip Schumaker – as St. Louis scored five runs in the 8th to win 7-3 and sweep the series.

Zach Duke had pitched effectively for the first 7-1/3 inning. After hitting for himself in the bottom of the 7th, Duke was pulled one out and one on in the 8th. After Capps gave up the go ahead dinger, he plunked Albert Pujols and was ejected from the game. Pujols was visibly angry and in some pain as the result of taking one off his torso. Jesse Chavez relieved and threw some gas on the fire as St. Louis scored three more times.

The Pirates collected seven hits in the 2nd and 3rd innings combined to take a 3-0 lead off of Joel Pineiro. The big blow was a two run homer from Steve Pearce in the second. But Pineiro settled in and pitched seven innings. The Pirates would get just two more hits off him after the third – both by Ramon Vazquez.

The Pirates put two on with no one out in the 8th off the St. Louis bullpen, but could not draw closer.

Duke went 7-1/3 and gave up two earned runs to get the no decision. Capps was the loser. Pineiro won and Kyle McClellan retired the final five hitters for a long save.

The Good

Duke was good again. One of these games, he’ll get some run support.

Vazquez, Lastings Milledge and Delwyn Young each had two hits.

In the 4th Jason Jaramillo’s snap throw to first picked off Bengie Molina to end the inning.

The Bad

The bullpen.

The Pirates drew no walks.

The defense faltered. Each of St. Louis first two runs came on errant pick off attempts. Duke tossed one into left in the fourth inning. That allowed Julio Lugo to move to third and he scored on a sac fly. In the 7th, Duke picked off Matt Holliday, who broke for second. But Pearce’s throw went into left field. Holliday went to third as a very weak throw from Milledge – and I was surprised at how bad a throw it was – was late. He also scored on a sacrifice fly.

Bucs hit into three double plays.

The Rest

Tony LaRussa will pick a spot to retaliate against the Pirates for Pujols getting plunked. The Cards are back in town in early September. The question is who does he hit? Andrew McCutchen is liable to steal. Garrett Jones isn’t a big enough name. That would leave either Ryan Doumit or Lastings Milledge.

Pineiro came into the game with a 5.66 ERA against Pittsburgh. He picked up his 10th win of the season. This is the first time he hit double digits in wins since 2003.

Bizarre jersey of the weekend winner was a teenage guy wearing a ketchup Jeff Andrews jersey. Didn’t see that one coming at all. I figured that he must’ve won it as part of some promotional give away. I can’t imagine someone buying it. On the St. Louis side, someone had a Fernando Tatis jersey. I also saw someone wearing a Pat Neshek jersey t-shirt. But that doesn’t count because the Tigers weren’t in town. Plus he hasn’t pitched in over a year.

On the discount rack in the clubhouse store were an array of Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson and Adam LaRoche jersey t-shirts. Also some Zach Duke ketchup jersey tees. If the very poorly run Pirates marketing department would make jersey tees for the 1970s era Pirates (and even some guys from the 1980s), there would be another benefit, as my brother noted: they’d never have to discount the shirts as the result of a trade.  

I’m often critical of the Pirates marketing department, but I have to praise them for the free spin on the prize wheel promo. It isn’t too often that teams give something away for free. It’d be a good deal if it cost $1. But out of the four spins between my brother and I over the weekend, we collected two bobble heads and a hat (plus a coupon for discount tickets, which I pitched).

A new casino opened in Pittsburgh at noon. Attendance was 24,000 – not too shabby.

 

Cards Continue Mastery Over Pirates

Chris Bootcheck’s first career appearance as a Pirates didn’t go well. He started the sixth in relief of starter Charlie Morton. He gave up a single and three walks to force in one run. With two outs, he gave up a bases clearing double to Albert Pujols that pushed the game wide open. Pujols had failed twice earlier with runners on base before connecting in the fateful sixth.

Adam Wainwright was effective for St. Louis. He was perfect through three innings. He went 6-2/3, giving up seven hits, one run and no walks. He struck out six. He tossed 83 of his 112 pitches for strikes.

The Pirates made a ‘too little, too late’ bid with a two run homer from Ronny Cedeno in the 9th. Ultimately, Ryan Franklin had to be summoned to get the last out.

Morton was okay. He was in trouble a lot, giving up seven hits in five innings. But they got just one run off him.

The Good

Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones had two hits each. Cedeno singled in addition to his dinger.

‘White Flag’ Joel Hanrahan struck out four in two innings of work.

Lastings Milledge ran hard all night.

The Bad

Umm. The bullpen?

The Rest

This is day one of my annual trek to Pittsburgh. Across Ohio and up I-79. My brother and I stopped off at the Mall at Robinson before coming downtown. I was not surprised to find that most of the stores that carried sports stuff were emphasizing the Steelers and Penguins over the Pirates. The Dick’s store at the mall had jersey t-shirts of Garrett Jones. We both laughed at that.

After that we did the yearly routine. Check in at the Renaissance (three wedding events at the hotel today – I always feel underdressed coming into the hotel in a t-shirt and shorts). Down a couple of doors for some slices from Giovanni’s Pizza (still outstanding and something we look forward to every year). Then onto the PNC.

The banners hanging up around the outside of the stadium are surely different than what they were in April. Garrett Jones, Jesse Chavez, Charlie Morton and Jason Jaramillo all have banners.  

I guess I’m no longer amazed at how poorly the the team markets itself. I’m a diehard and I’m armed with money and I’m eager to buy something. Yet the only thing that strikes my fancy is a $49 t-shirt (http://www.redjacketshop.com/products/RJ623PIP.htm). I’m not that eager to pay so much for a t-shirt. So, for now, I have nothing in my hands.

My brother and I were talking about all the jersey t-shirt opportunities that the team misses out on. They limit themselves to Clemente, Stargell and Maz. I’d buy shirts with John Candelaria, Al Oliver, Jim Bibby, Richie Hebner, et al without thinking twice about it if they were $20 to $25.

Ken the Lemonade Vendor (www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEpQhGajjeU) was in full voice. That’s always a treat.

A woman with the last name of Coonelly sung the National Anthem. Not sure if she is related to Frank Coonelly. She did a nice job. Though my brother noted – very Simon like – that she appeared to scream it in some parts.

I enjoy some of the ways they introduce players on the big board. I especially like the baseball card introduction this year. It is fantastic to hear the hot dog shooting jingle “…so catch yourself some meat.” Cracks me up every year.

Delwyn Young became an instant favorite of my brothers as he was introduced before his at bats by the Biz Markie song “Just a Friend”.

It was a sellout crowd and 7th largest in PNC history. The post-game fireworks and OAR concert are certainly the reasons. We skipped both. Though we can hear and see the fireworks from our room. I think the music has already started, but the fireworks have been intermittent over the past 30 minutes. It is 11:45 right now.  So, not sure how they are dealing with playing with the sound of fireworks booming in the background.

Speaking of music to be introduced by, this was my first visit to PNC Park that didn’t involve hearing Jack Wilson and his signature song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Kind of sad. I also lament the loss of the between inning ‘mullet cam’ from earlier years at PNC.