Cubs Clobber Pirates

This might be a new low. This was horrible. The matinee was broadcast on WGN and I was half tempted to hunker down and watch. I didn’t (guilty conscience prevents me from doing so) and am mightily glad I didn’t.

The Cubs jumped out early with a four run first off of Charlie Morton. The main damage was a three run homer from Kosuke Fukudome. Then Morton didn’t make it out of the second. Chicago sent 14 men to the plate in a 10 run outburst. Morton was pulled for Chris Bootcheck who was greeted very rudely. Morton (three outs and 10 earned runs) and Bootcheck (seven outs and seven runs scored) saw their ERAs take a big hit. Steven Jackson relieved Bootcheck after a bases loaded triple from Derrek Lee plated three runners with one out in the fourth. Jackson went the rest of the way and didn’t allow a run. Hard to say if the Cubs were even trying at that point as they had already built a 17-2 lead.

The beneficiary of all that support was rookie Randy Wells who allowed two runs in six carefree innings.

The Good

Jackson’s effort.

Garrett Jones had two hits.

The Bad

Good grief – 17 runs, 18 hits. Mark it down as one of those days.

The Rest

Lee drove in seven runs, matching a career high set earlier this season on July 2.

In addition to the win, Wells picked up his first multi-hit game in the Show.

Last time the Pirates gave up that many runs was back in 2000 – before PNC was even open. In that game, catcher Keith Osik allowed five 9th inning runs. Last time the Bucs were beaten by 15 runs or more was 4/5/03. That was Jeff D’Amico’s Pirates debut.

This was the 9th time in 2009 that Pirate pitchers allowed 15 or more hits. Pirate hitters have had 15 or more hits six time, doing it just once in the past two months.

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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.

Littlefield, Sauveur Sightings Highlight Minor League Games

My job takes me on the road to large cities throughout the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana region. For the first time since I’ve had this gig, I’ve been able to take in a couple of minor league games.

First stop was the Louisville Bats vs. the Pawtucket Red Sox. I arrived at the game when the gates opened, which allowed me to park a couple blocks away on the street for free (sweet). Tickets were cheap, just $6 for a seat down the line in right two rows up. It was $1 beer tailgate night ($1 beers from the time the gates open until game time). So, the after work 20-something crowd was out in full force. As I lingered in the outfield watching BP, the guy working with the PawSox pitchers looked vaguely familiar. So, I did some digging. Turns out the PawSox pitching coach is none other than former Pirates pitcher Rich Sauveur. I wanted to watch their starter (Michael Bowden) warm up. So, I headed toward the PawSox bullpen. A few minutes later Mr. Sauveur was there conversing with someone he knew in the stands, a mere two seats away from me. During a break in their conversation, I looked over and casually said, “Hey, you’re Rich Sauveur, right?” I think I blew him a way a little. I told him I was a big Pirates fan (I happened to be wearing a circa 1990 Andy Van Slyke jersey t-shirt). I also happened to casually know a guy he played with in the minors and mentioned his name, telling him that the gentleman resided here in Louisville.

Onto the game. Neither Bowden nor Reds starter Homer Bailey were impressive. Bailey especially got hit hard. His fastball topped out at 94 and the PawSox hit several balls on the nose. They had three runners thrown out at home, saving the game. Bailey struck out only one hitter. But the Bats prevailed.

Last night (and this morning) I’m in Indianapolis. Lucky me, I just picked up Indiana and will get a chance to see the Buccos AAA team play. Low and behold, the PawSox are in town. I got a ticket from a customer (20 rows up, behind the plate – nice). But there is no on the street parking. So, despite arriving 90 minutes before game time, I’m paying $5. But it was $1 hot dog night.

I wanted to see their starter (Charlie Zink) warm up, mostly because he tosses a knuckleball. So, once again I lingered by the visitors bullpen. Mr. Sauveur came out, looked at me and said, “Hey, how are you?” I told him I was fine and returned the question. He told me he was dead tired and moved on. I don’t think he quite put it all together that I had seen him last Thursday in Louisville. Zink’s knuckler looked pretty good.

About the second inning, I’m looking around the area, checking out the guys who are obvious scouts. Among them is none other than Dave Littlefield. So, between innings a little while later, I saunter over, extend my hand and say, “Mr. Littlefield, I’m a huge Pirates fan.” We talked for a few moments. He said he was working for the Cubs and was in town doing some scouting. He asked me what I did and I told him that I sold paper, kind of like the the TV show “The Office”. He said he didn’t catch much TV. But asked if my industry was hurt by newspapers and the like not selling as much. I told him that my market was primarily affected by foreign imports. The inning was getting ready to start again, so I let him get back to work. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Later in the game, I noted he was talking with the Indians GM, Cal Burleson.

On with the game, Ty Taubenheim and Zink both pitched pretty well. Jason Davis, not so much. He was wild and was hurt by a Steve Pearce error. After giving up two runs in the 8th, Davis let the first three runners on in the 9th before giving way to Chris Bootcheck. The Pirates escaped damage when Bootcheck whiffed Paul McAnulty on a 96 mph heater and then got a 6-4-3 DP to end the inning. Bootcheck tossed it like a man making a case for another chance at the majors.Very impressed.

Andrew McCutchen had three hits and threw a runner out at second trying to stretch a single into a double. It was the first time I’ve had a chance to see him play. I was impressed with his speed. He looks like a guy who doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors. His body build reminds me of Raghib Ismail. Not sure if that is good or bad. I look at him and think that he can’t possibly hold up over 150+ starts in the Majors. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

 

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