Ohlendorf Frustrates Cubs on Momentous Day

So why was this a momentous day? Two reasons:

1. The 100th anniversary of the opening of Forbes Field

2. For the second straight year the Pirates have traded away 2/3 of their starting outfield.

Ross Ohlendorf picked up his 7th win by tossing seven shutout innings to overshadow (at least temporarily) all of that. He allowed three singles, a double and no walks while striking out eight.

Freddy Sanchez played the role of a man picking up the empty pieces of an offense. He had a part in all three Pirate runs, driving in a pair and scoring the third. He also stole a base.

The Cubs didn’t threaten until they put two on with none gone against John Grabow in the 8th. But Grabow held on, whiffing Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome before getting Derrek Lee to ground out. Matt Capps pitched the 9th for the save.

The Good

A winning June. First one since 1996. Unbelievable.

Nice job by Ohlendorf. Second on the staff in wins.

Need more of that from Sanchez.

I have to say I’m happy thus far on the return for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett. Lastings Milledge seems to have been around for a while, but he just turned 24. The only member of the club younger than him is Andrew McCutchen.

Ted Lilly gave up all three runs to the Pirates. The first of which scored when Freddy Sanchez scored from second on a strike three when Geovany Soto’s throw to Lilly covering home went through the pitcher’s wickets.

The Bad

McCutchen is just 1-18. His first struggle at this level. Hopefully he works out of it soon.

Delwyn Young has two hits in his last 18 at bats.

The Rest

Ohlendorf established a single game mark for whiffs.

Welcome Garrett Jones who was brought up from Indy before the game. He didn’t appear tonight. He spent the better part of the last four years in AAA averaging better than 20 homers a year.

Lilly was 3-0 in his career against the Pirates coming in.

Duke’s Arm, Sanchez’ Slam Propel Pirates

Mark it down: Zach Duke will make the All-Star team this year. Duke won his seventh game against four defeats by going eight and allowing just three runs. The Pirates jumped on Tigers starter Armando Galarraga with four second inning runs. He was pulled in the third after giving up consecutive hits to start the inning. Nate Robertson got out of that jam unharmed. The same wasn’t true in the following frame when Freddy Sanchez hit a two out grand slam.

Duke did the rest, giving up two solo homers and a double among the seven hits he allowed. Jesse Chavez pitched the ninth.

The Good

Duke was sharp, yet again.

Every starter had a hit and everyone but Duke scored at least once. Some consistency would be nice.

The Bad

Bucs grounded into three DPs and Andrew McCutchen was thrown out at home to end the second.

The Rest

This was Sanchez first four RBI game since 7-21-08. This is the 8th career 4 RBI game four him. This was his second career salami.

This was Galarraga’s first career appearance against the Pirates. Last time the Bucs beat a starter making his first appearance against Pittsburgh happened earlier this year on 4-21-09 against Anibal Sanchez. Freddy Sanchez also homered in that game.

Last time Sanchez and Adam LaRoche homered in the same contest was also in an interleague game – 6-14-08 against Baltimore.

Duke Outduels Santana

That headline is a shocker. Dewey defeats Truman. Man bites dog. Things you don’t expect to see in print. But it happened. Zach Duke allowed 8 singles and one run in seven innings against NYM. He was touched in the fifth when the Mets put together two singles, a sac bunt and a sac fly. In the third, he was spared a run when Nate McLouth gunned down Jeremy Reed at the plate.

Jason Jaramillo’s first career tater tied it in the bottom of the fifth. The Pirates had two on with one gone later in the inning when Nyjer Morgan hit into a DP. Morgan didn’t like the call and was tossed from the game. The Bucs forged ahead one inning later off of Johan Santana (6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). A Freddy Sanchez single preceded consecutive doubles from McLouth and Andy LaRoche to put the Pirates up 3-1.

That’s where it stayed. John Grabow and Matt Capps contributed a perfect inning of relief to the effort.

The Good

I’m digging the 2009 Zach Duke. His ERA is 2.62.

Sanchez had two more hits, including his 19th double. McLouth had a triple to go with his double.

The Bad

I got nothing.

The Rest

Bucs are 2-0 in June.

This was Santana’s first career loss against the Buccos. His last start was a three hit complete game shutout (8-17-08).

This was Duke’s first win against NYM since 9-17-06.

Sanchez is 18 for his last 38 ABs.

The Pirates were collectively hitting less than .200 against Santana before going 7-18 tonight.

 

Hampton Continues Pirates Offensive Woes

Mike Hampton gave up three hits and one run over seven dominant innings to give the Astros the series. The Pirates lone run came in the form of a Nate McLouth dinger leading off the bottom of the first inning. After that, the Pirates didn’t advance a runner past first base.

Paul Maholm was the hard luck loser. He gave up both Houston runs on eight hits in seven innings. Unfortunately for Maholm, his last inning was the one that needed a do-over. Houston put together three singles and a passed ball to plate the winning run.

The Good

No complaints about Maholm’s effort.

Nate McLouth had two hits in his second start leading off in 2009.

The Bad

After McLouth, the rest of the club had as many hits as fielding miscues (a passed ball from Robinzon Diaz and an error from Andy LaRoche).

The Rest

Mike Hampton hasn’t lost to the Pirates this decade. His last loss to Pittsburgh was 5-30-99 when Mike Benjamin knocked in three runs (Benjamin would play in about 250 more games and have just two more games in which he knocked in three or more runs). Hampton is now 12-3 lifetime against Pittsburgh.

The Pirates averaged 4.81 runs per game in April and posted a 3.41 team ERA. May’s numbers were 3.90 runs per game and an ERA of 4.84.

Through 50 games the Pirates are 22-28 in 2009. That mark in 2008 was 24-26. Pardon me if my optimism has left the room.

 

Cubs Win Rain Shortened Contest

Sean Marshall allowed just one run on four hits over six innings as the game was called after a rain delay that lasted a little over an hour.

The Cubs scored single runs in each of the first three innings – all with two gone – and added three runs in the fifth for the final tallies. Micah Hoffpauir drove in two and Kosuke Fukudome hit a solo homer in the first to pace their attack. All the damage was done off of Ian Snell who gave up four walks to go along with eight hits in six innings.

The Good

Well, we needed the rain here in the midwest.

Freddy Sanchez had two hits.

Andy LaRoche extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

The Bad

Snell is winless in his last seven outings (0-4 over that stretch).

The Rest

The Pirates record over the first 45 games of 2009 is 21-24. It is the same mark as 2008 through 45 games.

The two hits give Sanchez eight in his last two games. His previous career best for hits in consecutive games was seven (8/18-19/06).

Sanchez’ 6 Hits Paces Offensive Outburst

Freddy Sanchez had six hits in six trips to the plate, knocked in three and scored four times to pace a season high 18 hit attack. Andy LaRoche and Jason Jaramillo each had three hits. Andy LaRoche drove in two runs and Nate McLouth contributed the go ahead RBI with a two run homer off of losing pitcher Neal Cotts.

Neither starter was around long as both Paul Maholm (4 IP, 7 H, 7 ER) and Ryan Dempster (4 IP, 7 H, 6 ER) were used as BP pitchers.

It was a see-saw event as there were seven ties or lead changes. Tom Gorzelanny pitched two innings to get the win. He was followed by five pitchers. Matt Capps was hit in the elbow by a line drive in the 9th inning and was pulled from the game. The P-G reports that there is no “structural damage” to his elbow. Sean Burnett relieved to seal the game.

The Good

Season high 18 hits.

Jesse Chavez is unscored upon in his last seven outings, covering seven innings.

The Bad

I don’t think it has ever been good to have a pitcher get hit in the elbow by a liner.

Maholm is allowed to have an outing like this every once in a while. But it wasn’t pretty.

The Rest

This is the second time in 2009 that Maholm has allowed six or more earned runs in a start. He did it twice in all of 2008.

This is the second time in 2009 that one player had a five hit a game and another had six hits on the same day. Today it was Sanchez and Alex Rodriguez. On 4/15/09 it was teammates Ian Kinsler (six knocks) and Marlon Byrd.

This was the 52nd time in the Retrosheet era that someone collected six or more knocks in one game. There have been 144 different instances of a player hitting for the cycle in the same time frame.

This was Jaramillo’s first three hit game of his career.

Long Balls Doom Bucs

The Pirates took an early lead, fell behind quickly, tied it up late and lost it in regulation.

The Bucco offense plated two in the first in support of Jeff Karstens. It might’ve been more, but Freddy Sanchez was thrown out at home on a single from Adam LaRoche.

But, Karstens quickly allowed the Beer Makers to take the lead. Solo homers in the first (Ryan Braun) and third (Mike Cameron) formed the bread of a three run homer sandwich that came in the second off the bat of Rickie Weeks.

The Pirates eeked back into it with an RBI from Eric Hinske in the fifth and a game tying two run double from Freddy Sanchez with two out in the 8th.

But the wheels came off the bullpen in the 8th. Tyler Yates walked Bill Hall to start then inning, then plunked Jason Kendall (his second HBP of the game). Craig Counsell (from Notre Dame) delivered a sac bunt and the go ahead run scored on a fielder’s choice grounder from Weeks. John Grabow relieved Yates and gave up a two run double to Corey Hart. All told, Milwaukee tallied five times in the 8th to put the game away.

Todd Coffey was the winner, having recorded the last out in the top of the 8th.

The Good

No complaints about the offense. 11 hits and four walks would be enough to win most games.

Nyjer Morgan had two singles and a walk and scored three times.

The Bad

Karstens was uneven. He allowed five hits and five runs in five innings and all five hits were for extra bases – three dingers, a double and a triple. It could’ve been worse, actually

The bullpen imploded in the 8th.

Pirate pitchers walked 8 Brewer hitters.

The Rest

Trevor Hoffman finished the game for Milwaukee, making his 2009 debut. Last time he pitched for a team other than San Diego was 6/22/93. I was heading into my final year of college.

This was the 10th time in his career that Kendall was HBP twice in the same game. Last time was 7/17/05 when he was with Oakland.

Duke Dominate as Bucs Beat Friars

Is it wrong to get excited when Zach Duke pitches like I did in 2005? He went 8-1/3 inning, allowing just one run, five singles, a triple and a pair of walks. He picked up his third win and dropped his ERA to 2.65.

The Pirates strung together a bunch of hits against starter Shawn Hill (who left with an arm injury) and reliever Josh Geer. The Pirate hitters tallied 14 knocks with Craig Monroe (three hits and three RBI) and Freddy Sanchez (three hits and three runs scored) pacing a balanced attack.

The Good

Duke. I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off.

Sanchez stroked his league leading ninth double.

Monroe has nine RBIs in 23 ABs. If you extrapolate that to a 500 AB season, that is almost 200 RBI. Not too shabby.

The Bad

Injuries. Both Jack Wilson (finger) and Nate McLouth (oblique) were out. Plus Ryan Doumit has had surgery. Craig Hansen was put on the DL with neck troubles, prompting the promotion of Evan Meek to the Show. Meek mopped up for Duke in the 9th.

The Rest

Both LaRoches grounded into double plays. Not something you see too often.

The Padres wore throwback 1969 uniforms. Very sweet.

Karstens Topples Marlins

Tough to argue with the result as the Pirates moved two games over .500 on the year. Jeff Karstens was good over 6 plus. The Pirates put up a single tally in each of the first three innings and the pitching made it hold up.

Karstens scattered two singles, a double and two walks in six innings. He yielded just one run. Freddy Sanchez homered and doubled to drive the offense.

Cameron Maybin homered in the 8th to narrow the lead to 3-2 and Florida stranded two runners later in the inning.. Matt Capps tossed the 9th to get the save.

The Good

Two games over .500!

Karstens continues the string of nice starting pitching efforts. He was even interviewed on Baseball Tonight.

Three double plays from the defense, including one to end the game.

Jason Jaramillo doubled in a run (it was thisclose to a homer) and threw out Maybin trying to steal. Nice job. He’ll be seeing a lot of action with Ryan Doumit being out with a broken bone in his wrist.

The Bad

Blame the NHL and the poor weather for the attendance (less than 10,000 paid). While you can.

The Rest

Was anyone there tonight? Ronny Paulino played. Was he booed? Cheered? Ignored?

Duke Sparkles Again

Not sure where this has come from. Magic? Joe Kerrigan? Whatever it is, Zach Duke has won back-to-back starts for the first time since June of last year. After that start 6/9/08 vs. Arizona, Duke’s record was 4-4. He would go 1-10 the rest of the way.

Duke walked two and allowed four hits. The Astros didn’t advance a runner to third until two were out in the seventh. He struck out five. The effort was Duke’s third career shutout. His final win last year was a shutout of SF.

Every Pirate starter had at least one hit – and, no, Andy LaRoche didn’t start – contributing to the win. Adam LaRoche hit a two run homer as part of a five run third and Ryan Doumit added an “oh by the way” solo homer in the 8th to cap the scoring at 7-0. Freddy Sanchez had three doubles.

The Pirates offense was unkind to Astros starter Brian Moehler, who fell to 0-2 on the season.

The Good

More, please from Zach Duke. It’s like 2005 all over again. Good grief, where did this optimism come from?

Adam LaRoche had three hits, giving him his first three hit April game since 4/18/06 when he was still with Atlanta. LaRoche had just one homer and five RBI for all of April 2008. This far into the season, he has two dingers and four RBIs. Is that more optimism?

The Bad

Harry Kalas passed away today. Very sad. Other than Harry Caray, there is probably no other broadcaster I have tried to (poorly) imitate. Here’s a long winded story for you: My brother belongs to a local sports club in Cincinnati that has some wicked cool displays of baseball memorabilia. The club also brings in speakers – numerous Hall of Famers have been in along with a lot of ex-Reds. Mike Schmidt – a Dayton, OH native – was in last week. Part of the program involves a random door prize, which my brother has never won. However, with the Schmidt event, they decided to add a trivia side as well and bring some skill into the contest. The question was off which pitcher did Schmidt clout his 500th homer. The answer, of course, is former Bucco Don Robinson. My brother, of course, knew it and won the door prize – an autographed pair of game worn Mike Schmidt cleats. Upon hearing the story all I could hear in my head was Harry Kalas’ call of the homer – “Michael Jack Schmidt…” And now he is gone.

The Rest

Former Pirates OF Jason Michaels started and had one hit. Former Bucco farmhand Jeff Keppinger – traded in the Kris Benson deal to the Mets – also started and had one hit.

Houston entered the game with the worst offense in the NL, scoring 2.67 runs per game, a full run less than Arizona. This effort won’t help. They were also shutout on Sunday by St. Louis.

Because it was the home opener, Steve Blass threw out the first pitch to celebrate his 50 years of affiliation with the franchise. Unlike Michael Keaton a few years ago, I’m assuming he didn’t criticize the team in a press conference following the pre-game ceremonies.