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.

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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.

Bucs Make Nary a Whimper in Record Setting 82nd Loss

Outlined against a blue-gray September sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction, and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Poor Player Development, Weak Amateur Scouting, Lopsided Trades and Ill-Advised Free Agent Signings.

Apologies to Grantland Rice…

If it wasn’t already officially football season in Pittsburgh, it is now. I think football season begins in the Steel City as soon as the Steelers start training camp.

It was an ugly gray day in Pittsburgh. I kept hoping that the skies would open up and the 82nd loss would come not as the result of a 27th out, but rather by the hands of the umpiring crew deeming the field to be unplayable. But not even that indignity could be spared. Let the record show that the final out was a routine fly ball off the bat of Lastings Milledge that found itself easily captured by Kosuke Fukudome. Is it irony that when the Pirates losing season streak started, only one player of Japanese decent had ever appeared in the Show, yet the player who recorded the last putout came from that island nation?

Ted Lilly and three Cub relievers combined on a 2 hitter as the Pirates were beaten for the 82nd time this season. Derrek Lee drove in three runs with a pair of homers. Both Pirate hits went for extra bases (solo homer from Andy LaRoche and an RBI double from Brandon Moss). Daniel McCutchen was serviceable – giving up nine hits and four runs in seven innings.

The Good

LaRoche homered.

The Bad

82 losses. Officially.

Getting two-hit.

The Rest

By the numbers – LaRoche and Moss have 15 homers and 83 RBI in 762 ABs. Jason Bay has 31/98 in 452 at bats.

Ted Lilly is now 4-1 against the Pirates all-time.

In just seven games in 2009, Lee has 12 RBI against the Pirates.

Bucs Struggles in Milwaukee Continue

It is hard to win when you don’t do anything particularly well. Kevin Hart started and took the loss after allowing five runs in six innings. Phil Dumatrait and Steven Jackson each allowed a run in their inning of relief.

The offense scored three runs, all of which came in the 5th inning. The Pirates briefly held a lead that the pitching staff and the defense couldn’t hold onto. Delwyn Young committed an error to start the bottom of the fifth and that lead off hitter – Felipe Lopez – eventually scored on a double play ground ball. A goofed double play helped Milwaukee score a pair in the third. With one out and runners on the corners, Steve Pearce fielded a ground ball and tossed to Brian Bixler covering second. Bixler fell coming across the bag and was unable to complete the twin killing. That allowed one run to score and three batters later, Hart walked Prince Fielder with the bases loaded to force in another run.

Andy LaRoche hit a two run homer for the highlight of the Pirates offense.

Yovani Gallardo started but was ineffective. He gave up three runs in five innings. He struck out seven. Claudio Vargas was the winner in relief.

The Good

Lastings Milledge had two hits.

The Bad

Offense. Defense. Pitching. Attitude? see below

Bixler struck out three times.

The Rest

Ryan Doumit did not play after being pulled from yesterday’s game for undisclosed reasons. Skipper John Russell declined to give details, but confirmed that Doumit is not injured. Attitude issues?

This was LaRoche’s third homer of the month – tops in 2009 for him.

Gallardo had split two decisions against Pittsburgh in 2009. This was his fourth start against the Pirates this year.

Hart beat the Beer Makers earlier in the month in Pittsburgh.

 

 

Bucs Score Late and Earn Split

The Pirates had nothing going against Javier Vazquez. They’d managed a single run – a solo homer from Delwyn Young – and just one other hit in eight innings. Vazquez had whiffed 12. But when the 9th came, a new pitcher – Rafael Soriano – was on the hill. Andrew McCutchen singled and Adam LaRoche was given a free pass. Those runners eventually wound up at 2nd and 3rd. Andy LaRoche came through with a two run, two out single to give the Pirates the lead.

Paul Maholm matched Vazquez. He allowed an unearned (error by Jack Wilson) run in seven innings, whiffing a season best eight. Matt Capps pitched the 9th for the save. Steven Jackson tossed the 8th for the win.

The Good

I’ll take a split. I have a bad feeling they will be few and far between the rest of the way.

Clutch hitting by LaRoche the Younger

Young continues to produce.

The Bad

Maholm deserved the W. It would’ve been his second straight.

The Rest

Last time Maholm struck out more than 8 was 7-27-08.

Vasquez has hit double digits in Ks three times in 2009. He did it four times in both 2008 and 2007.

Young’s last tater was 6-24-08 off Mark Buehrle.

The last time a Pirate named Young had two hits and a homer was Kevin Young on 9-27-02. Been trying to work KY into a post for a long time.

Team Effort Repels Houston

It was one of those games where nobody and nothing really stood out.

Paul Maholm was good but not great in giving up four runs over seven innings. Those runs came in the form of a Hunter Pence dinger and a couple of RBI producing at bats from Carlos Lee.

The Pirates scored three in the second and three more in the third to get the best of Roy Oswalt. Andrew McCutchen drove in a pair of runs. Andy LaRoche had two hits and scored twice.

The Good

A win is a win.

Jack Wilson and Adam LaRoche contributed a single and a double to the effort.

Four of the six runs were scored with two outs.

First time all month that Pirate pitchers whiffed more hitters than they walked.

The Bad

Two Pirates – Adam LaRoche and Nyjer Morgan – were picked off.

The Rest

Maholm has struck out either 2, 4 or 7 batters in each of his last ten starts. He should play the pick three.

McCutchen’s 2 RBI game give him one more career multi-RBI game than former first round bust J.J. Davis.

McCutchen Shines as Bucs Sweep Mets

Nate McLouth is gone. Long live Nate McLouth.

Andrew McCutchen is up and off to a great start. He had two hits, an RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base as the Pirates offense used a bunch of singles to give Mike Pelfrey an early shower.

McCutchen singled leading off the first, touching off a four run inning. The Pirates scored four more times in the fourth, forcing the Mets to their bullpen. Unfortunately, Bucs starter Ross Ohlendorf wasn’t on. Despite the huge lead, he didn’t last long enough for the win as he was yanked with one out in the fifth.

Pelfrey gave up 8 earned in 3-2/3. Ohlendorf was charged with five runs in 4-1/3. Steven Jackson received the win for two scoreless innings of relief work.

The Good

McCutchen’s start was very nice.

Jason Jaramillo knocked in a career best four runs.

Ramon Vazquez went 4-4.

The bullpen tossed 4-2/3 IP of one hit relief.

The Bad

Ohlendorf’s outing was the classic “hang in there and get the win”. But he couldn’t and didn’t.

Andy LaRoche, who knocked in two runs earlier in the game, left after being plunked on the knee cap. He is questionable for tonight, per the P-G.

The Rest

The list of recent Pirates to collect two or more hits in their debut, like McCutchen did, is varied:

Steve Pearce – 9-1-07

Andy Barkett – 5-28-01

Alex Hernandez – 9-1-00

Abraham Nunez – 8-27-97

Keith Osik – 4-5-96

Jason Kendall – 4-1-96

Sam Khalifa – 6-25-85

R.C. Stevens – 4-15-58

 

Jaramillo’s four RBI effort gives the Pirates two such contests from catchers in 2009 (Ryan Doumit had the other on 4-11-09). The Bucs had just three such games combined in teh 2006 to 2008 seasons.

This was the seventh four hit game of Vazquez’ career.

The Mets recently acquired former Pirate Emil Brown from San Diego. He appeared as a PH, his first appearance in Pittsburgh since June 28, 2001. Welcome back!

With McLouth gone, Andy LaRoche now leads the active roster in RBI.