Nats Rally off Morton, Earn Split

Charlie Morton was tough through five, allowing just two hits and no runs. The Pirates staked him to an early 3-0 lead as Andrew McCutchen homered leading off the home half of the first and the Pirates tacked on two more against Nats starter Garrett Mock.

The Pirates would not score again until the game was all but over. They had Mock on the ropes in the fifth. He was pulled after giving up a single and a pair of walks before retiring a hitter. Enter Tyler Clippard. He got Delwyn Young to hit into the 1-2-3 DP and then Andy LaRoche popped out to end the inning.

The Nats put five men on and scored four of them in the sixth to take the lead. The big blow was a three run tater from Adam Dunn. Jeff Karstens started the 7th with a pair of strikeouts, but would get no more outs. Karstens gave up four runs, including a two run dinger to Ryan Zimmerman, before being pulled.

Morton was charged with the loss after giving up four runs in six innings. He struck out two. Tyler Clippard was the winner in relief after tossing 2-1/3 hittless innings. Mike MacDougal was summoned with two on and two gone in the 9th. He got the last hitter – Young – to end it and earn the save.

The Good

Ryan Doumit had his first three hits.

McCutchen had two more hits.

The Bad

For the second straight game, the starter was in control only to have it wrestled from him late in the game.

On Baseball Tonight, it appeared that Lastings Milledge didn’t run hard when he hit a smash that Zimmerman fielded cleanly. He threw to second to get Morton and the relay to first easily retired Milledge. That is not going to work.

Young was hitless and left five men on.

The Rest

This was Doumit’s first three hit game since April.

McCutchen had 9 hits and four dingers in the four game series. For the entire month of April 2008, Adam LaRoche had 15 hits and one homer.



Nats Get to Maholm Late

Paul Maholm was in control through six innings. The Pirates were leading 2-1 heading into the seventh, with Maholm having allowed just three hits. The wheels fell off in a three run inning that pushed Washington to victory. Josh Willingham hit a two run homer and Ronny Belliard and Alberto Gonzalez hit back to back doubles to push across a third run.

The Pirates were mostly stymied by Collin Balester (sounds like an Englishman’s name, doesn’t it?) through 5 innings. He ran into trouble in the sixth and was pulled with two out and two on in favor of Sean Burnett. Ryan Doumit was retired to end the threat and Burnett was the pitcher of record as Washington took the lead for good in the next frame.

Pittsburgh’s offense came swiftly. Ronny Cedeno cracked a two run homer off of Ballester and Delwyn Young homered off of Jorge Sosa.

Maholm went 6-1/3 and gave up four runs to fall to 6-6. Mike MacDougal pitched a scoreless 9th for the save.

The Good

Lastings Milledge had two singles.

Cedeno has hit in each of his three games for Pittsburgh.

The Bad

Both Milledge and Andrew McCutchen were caught stealing.

The Rest

The Pirates are now 45-59 through 104 games. They were 48-56 through 104 games in 2008. My feeling is that it will be downhill through the rest of 2009. Avoiding 100 losses might be tough.

This was the 7th straight game for Garrett Jones without a homer. That’s his longest streak of the season.

Maholm has dropped four of his last six decisions and has had his ERA jump by a full run over that span.

Bucs and Nats have a wrap around game tomorrow. Nats travel home to take on Florida on Tuesday. Arizona comes into Pittsburgh.

McCutchen Explodes for 3 Dingers as Bucs Roll

In the midst of so much negative press regarding the dismantling of a last place club, it is nice to know that the Pirates will be getting some good publicity as the result of some on the field play. Rookie Andrew McCutchen hit three homers, drove in six and scored four times asn the Pirates beat up on Washington.

McCutchen homered in the first, the fourth and the sixth. He singled and scored in the third.

All the fireworks went to support Virgil Vasquez’ second career win. It wasn’t a pretty outing for him. He gave up nine hits and two walks in five innings. But the Nats only scored three times.

Rookie Craig Stammen took the loss, giving up six runs in three innings.

The Good


Five hitters collected two knocks or more

The Bad

Nothing. Just bask in the McCutchen glow.

The Rest

Former Pirate Ron Villone tossed 2-1/3 of scoreless, one hit ball in relief. The lone hit was a double from Garrett Jones. He got McCutchen to ground into an inning ending DP to prevent a fourth dinger.

Nyjer Morgan was 3-4, but made an error.

McCutchen is the first Pirate to hit three bombs in a game since Aramis Ramirez on 4/8/01. Going all the way back to the beginning of the Retrosheet era, McCutchen is the first Pirate rookie with three homers in a game. There might be someone earlier than the mid-1950s. But I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head who was a rookie for the Pirates and launched three dingers.

Cutch is the first Pirate to hit three homers in Pittsburgh since Darnell Coles on 9/30/87. He is the first Pirate to hit three homers in the same game off three different pitchers since Dr. Strangeglove Dick Stuart connected off of Mike McCormick, Billy Loes and Stu Miller back on 6/30/60.



Revamped Bucs Beat Equally Downtrodden Nats

In a match up of two of the three worst teams in the NL, the Pirates and Ross Ohlendorf prevailed.Ohlendorf allowed just two runs on six hits in 6-1/3 innings of toil.

Lastings Milledge, making his Pirates debut, singled twice and drove in two runs. Steve Pearce connected for his first homer this season. Andrew McCutchen had two hits and scored twice.

John Lannan gave up all five runs in seven innings on nine hits. Matt Capps put two runners on in the 9th before closing out the game.

Three players were playing against the former clubs. Nyjer Morgan was 0-4 with a walk, a run scored, was picked off and made the last out with the tying run on base. Joel Hanrahan gave up two runs in 2-3 IP. Milledge was clearly the top performer.

The Good

Snapped a four game losing streak.

Ohlendorf has matched Zach Duke for the team lead in wins.

The Bad

The bullpen gave up two runs in 2-2/3 IP and Capps almost blew it in the 9th.

The Rest

After hitting .284 in June, McCutchen finished July hitting .277 for the month.

Results of players making their Pirates debut in 2009

Lastings Milledge – 2-3 with two RBI (July 31)

Jason Jaramillo – 1-3 (April 16)

Delwyn Young – 0-1 (April 17 as a PH)

Ramon Vazquez – 1-2 (April 6)

Eric Hinske – 1-1 (April 6)

Garrett Jones – 0-4 (July 1)

Craig Monroe – 0-1 (April 7)

Jeff Salazar – 0-1 (July 2)

That’s 8 new hitters through July. In 2008, there were 10 players who made their hitting debut for the Pirates. I’m certain that the 2009 club will catch up.


Bucs Bullpen Returns the Favor

Coming into the game, the Washington bullpen was much maligned – a league worst ERA with 14 loses and a league low six saves. Tonight it was the Pirates turn to lose a game late.

Coming into the fifth inning, the Pirates had been held hitless and were trailing 3-0. Not only were they held hitless through four, but they were being held down by a dude making his MLB Debut – Craig Stammen, who went to the University of Dayton. My own backyard.

The LaRoche brothers fueled a comeback. The Bucs first hit of the game was a double by Adam in the fifth. He would score on a groundout by Andy. Stammen began to struggle in the 7th. A walk to Nate McLouth, a homer by Adam LaRoche, a double by Brandon Moss and a single from Andy LaRoche put the Pirates up 4-3 and sent Stammen to the showers.

Tom Gorzelanny relieved Ian Snell to start the 7th. He had a 1-2-3 first inning. But the 8th is where it went sour. He allowed four straight singles that plated two runs, pushing Washington ahead to stay.

Former Pirate Julian Tavarez was the winner in relief of Stammen. Gorzy was hung with the L.

The Good

Snell was solid. Six innings and three runs allowed on just four hits.

The Bucs offense was efficient. Not many guys on, but not many guys stranded. That’s an official reach.

The Bad

Losing one late and having the winning streak snapped.

The Rest

Coming into tonight, Tavarez’ career ERA against Pittsburgh was Maddux-esque 2.12.

Brandon Moss has multiple hits in each of his last seven starts. His average is nearly 100 points higher than it was 10 games ago.

At AAA Syracuse this year, Stammen was 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA.

Adam Dunn’s BA is .280 following a single and an RBI tonight. You have to go back to 2004 to find him with a higher batting average this late in the season. And he is hitting less than .200 at home this year.

Wild Pitch Leads to Fifth Straight W

A wild pitch tied the game last night. Tonight it untied it. Joel Hanrahan uncorked a wild one with two outs and the bases juiced, allowing Freddy Sanchez to scamper home with the go ahead notch.

John Lannan scattered seven hits in seven innings to hold the suddenly potent Pirates offense to just one run. Paul Maholm labored a bit (114 pitches in six innings while retiring the side in order just once), but allowed just one run as well.

The Pirates loaded the bases with three singles off Hanrahan. After Brandon Moss’ grounder forced Delwyn Young at home, Hanrahan’s pitch to Andy LaRoche went awry.

The Good

My view (mostly from the bench at my son’s game tonight and then at home ‘watching’ on line) shows that Maholm battled through even though he might not have had his best stuff.

Five straight wins. Granted three of those are against Washington.

Good stuff from the bullpen. Three innings of shutout ball. John Grabow was the winner. Matt Capps saved it.

The Bad

Buc batters stranded 13 runners.

The Rest

Pirates have hung a loss on pitchers named Joel on consecutive Wednesdays. Last week it was Joel Pineiro.

It has been over a year since the team has won five or more in a row. Last time was 5/6-12/08 whent the Pirates won six straight.


Bucs Come Through in Extras After Bullpen Blows it

Hey, it is four straight wins. So, not much to complain about. But, here goes…

With Matt Capps unavailable due to much recent use (as reported by Dejan Kovacevic in his pre-game notes), Sean Burnett was called on to protect a one run lead in the 9th. It didn’t happen. Burnett stranded a runner at third in the 8th and then allowed a one run triple to Nick Johnson in the 9th. Johnson would score on a wild pitch two batters later. Tie game. On we go.

The Bucs offense made quick work of Joe Beimel in extras. Adam LaRoche delivered a two run double with two gone to put the Pirates up. Tom Gorzelanny, who had releived Burnett to get the last out in the 9th, worked a scoreless 10th to get the win.

The Good

Gorzo’s first win since…6/24/08

Brandon Moss had his second three RBI game of his career. He drove in the final run with a single and had a two run double that capped a three run first.

Andy LaRoche belted a two run homer in the third that pushed the Pirates lead to 5-0.

The Bad

Starter Jeff Karstens gave up three consecutive run scoring hits with two gone in the sixth to allow the Nats to get within 5-4. He was then pulled in favor of Evan Meek in the 7th. Meek walked three but got out of the inning with help from a DP.

This was Burnett’s first career blown save and would’ve been his first career save.

The Rest

This was the second time the brothers LaRoche had multiple RBIs in the same game. The first time was 9-17-08.

National’s starter Shairon Martis is the first pitcher in the Show to hail from Curacao. The Pirates have strong ties to that island as former Bucs Yurendell DeCaster and Randall Simon and former Bucco minor league hitting instructor Hensley Muelens hail from there.

Along with Beimel, former Pirate pitcher Ron Villone also appeared for Washington. He is unscored upon in 2009. Washington represents his 12th ML team. Back in 2002 he was Pittsburgh’s Opening Day starter.

This is the second straight game that two former Pirate hurlers appeared agains their old team. Both Beimel and Kip Wells chucked it yesterday for Washington. The Reds (with Bronson Arroyo, Mike Lincoln and Arthur Rhodes – who never actually appeared in uni with the Bucs) could also pull the same trick in 2009.