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.

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Maholm Shuts Down Astros

Paul Maholm went 8 shutout innings and the Pirates offense got just enough to give him the win. Maholm evened his record at 8-8 by allowing just five singles, a double and two walks.

Pittsburgh got an RBI single from Garrett Jones in the first off of Felipe Paulino and a solo homer from Ryan Doumit in the 8th. They would need it as Lance Berkman hit a solo dinger off of Matt Capps in the 9th. Capps recovered to get his first save of the month.

Paulino fell to 2-9 but gave up six hits and just that first inning run in five innings. He struck out seven.

The Good

Winning.

Ending the losing streak.

Maholm pitching well.

The Bad

Continued silence of the bats.

Capps continuing to scuffle.

The Rest

This is the fourth time this year that Maholm has not allowed an earned run in a start. The first since July 17.

Maholm is 8-4 career against Houston, the only team he has beaten more than four times.

Paulino was forced from his last appearance against the Pirates (6/7/09) with a groin injury.

Doumit came into the game hitting .370 in September.

Cutch Bails Out Capps in Walk Off Win

The evening was full of drama. I’m in Chicago and took in my first game ever at Wrigley. I was on hand to watch Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs get pounded by Washington (shout out to Dave and Ross who are rooming with each other temporarily). Elijah Dukes hit a grand slam to blow the game open.Got to see Tom Gorzelanny come in from the bullpen and pitch. Plus, Aramis Ramirez. Big night for ex-Buccos.

Also did quite a bit of scoreboard watching as the game I witnessed live was quickly getting out of hand.

Jimmy Rollins provided early fireworks with a pair of solo homers off of Ross Ohlendorf. The Pirates countered with their own long ball as homers from Ryan Doumit and Steve Pearce put the home town nine up 3-2. Ohlendorf went 6-1/3 and allowed just the two runs on five hits. The Pirates trotted out three relievers to be able to hand the ball to Matt Capps in the 9th. After a pair of doubles tied the scored, Shane Victorino tripled over the head of Andrew McCutchen who misplayed the ball, allowing the go ahead run to score.

Cutch got it back in the 9th. Brad Lidge was on and didn’t retire a batter. A single, a wild pitch and a single from Brandon Moss tied the score. McCutchen then delivered a walk off dinger. Ball game. Bucs win.

That was Lidge’s 9th blown save of the year. Capps has blown four times, but picked up the win in this case. Phils starter Joe Blanton allowed three runs in six innings and struck out seven.

The Good

Coming back and winning.

Cutch in the clutch

The Bad

Blowing a win for Ohlendorf.

Garrett Jones was 0-3 with a walk and three whiffs.

The Rest

Doumit had his first two walk game since 9/3/08.

Blanton had allowed just one earned run in 14-1/3 IP in two previous outings against the Pirates.

Capps blew five saves in 2008. His ERA last year was a full 3.50 runs lower than where it stands now.

This was McCutchen’s first walk off homer and the first time he homered after the sixth inning.

The Rest

Marquis, Colorado Help Bucs Continue to Swoon

Jason Marquis allowed jus three hits and a run in seven strong innings as Colorado earned a series win by piling up 15 hits against Pittsburgh.

Troy Tulowitzki’s solo homer highlighted a two run first off of Paul Maholm. He allowed three runs in the first two innings before settling in. However, he didn’t make it out of the 7th. Clint Barmes hit a one out, two run homer that chased Maholm from the game. Joel Hanrahan came in and retired the final two hitters.

But the Pirates offense was once again stagnant. The lone run came on a sac fly from Andrew McCutchen in the fifth. And it wasn’t enough.

The Good

Hanrahan has not allowed an earned run in six August outings. That sound you hear? That’s the sound of me reaching.

The Bad

Where to start. Maholm wasn’t effective. Matt Capps couldn’t get three outs in the 8th, yielding four hits (three doubles) and three runs before being pulled for Steven Jackson. Garrett Jones was fitted for a Golden Sombrero – 0-4 with four whiffs. The defense committed two errors.

The Rest

Marquis is now 10-6 against the Pirates in his career, making them the first club he has beaten 10 times. He has given up four runs in 15-2/3 innings in 2009 and has won seven of his last nine decisions against Pittsburgh.

Maholm is now 1-4 against Colorado all time. He has not beaten them since 2007.

This is the seventh time this year that Capps has allowed more than one earned run in an appearance. Last year that happened just five times all year.

Tulowitzki has homered in three of his last four games. Tulowitzki came into the game .463 against the Pirates.

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.

 

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.

Rockies Rally in 9th off Capps

I feel for Paul Maholm. He tossed shutout baseball for seven innings and then watched the bullpen struggle. Maholm allowed just five hits and whiffed four.

The Pirates offense struggled against Jorge De La Rosa. He allowed seven hits and one run in seven innings to go along with 10 Ks. The Pirates lone run was an RBI single from Craig Monroe.

Tyler Yates almost blew the lead in the 8th. Two consecutive hits put runners on the corners. But, the umpiring crew ruled that Seth Smith left third base too soon on what would’ve been an SF from Troy Tulowitzki. Instead of a tie game, the Stones were left with a rally killing DP.

But in the 9th Matt Capps allowed a two run homer to Brad Hawpe and an RBI single from Matt Murton. Huston Street whiffed the side in the 9th.

The Good

Maholm was tough again.

Robinzon Diaz continues to hit – a single and a double.

The Bad

One run and 13 whiffs for the offense.

Capps. Ugh.

The Rest

Capps’ last blown save was unfortunately very recent – May 4.

de la Rosa’s last outing against Pittsburgh was also impressive – 6 IP and 1 ER on 7/19/08. This was his second straight double digit strikeout effort.

Ryan Spilborghs took a homer away from Jack Wilson in the third.

This was Huston Street’s first career appearance against Pittsburgh.