Sunday, May 30, 2010

SERIES 18 - Cubs



Chicago Cubs

Monday, May 31, 1:35 PM (FSN)
Tuesday, June 1, 7:05 PM (FSN)
Wednesday, June 2, 7:05 PM (FSN)



PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA

Listen live on [WPGB]



Well, that series against the Braves was pretty awful. Maybe the Bucs can turn around their misfortune against the Cubs, a team which so far this year the Pirates have dominated. Lincoln was speculated to get the start on Tuesday, but it appears to have been given to Jeff Karstens. I'm not upset with that decision as long as Karstens maintains good control with his pitches. This will be the first series in June, which means it's getting closer and closer to the time when Alvarez and probably Tabata as well get a call. With the way the Pirates have been playing lately, it can't come soon enough.



Expected Pitching Matchups

May 31: Ross Ohlendorf (0-3-2, 4.26 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (3-3-4, 4.40 ERA)
June 1: Jeff Karstens (1-1-6, 4.78 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (1-4-2, 3.63 ERA)
June 2: Zach Duke (3-5-3, 5.09 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (1-3-13, 6.12 ERA)

Proposed Lineups

Pirates

  1. A. McCutchen, CF
  2. N. Walker, 2B
  3. A. LaRoche, 3B
  4. G. Jones, RF
  5. R. Doumit, C
  6. J. Clement, 1B
  7. L. Milledge, LF
  8. R. Cedeno, SS
  9. [Pitcher]

Cubs

  1. K. Fukudome, RF
  2. R. Theriot, 2B
  3. D. Lee, 1B
  4. A. Ramirez, 3B
  5. M. Byrd, CF
  6. A. Soriano, LF
  7. G. Soto, C
  8. S. Castro, SS
  9. [Pitcher]


Let's Go Bucs.

Canyon, Part II. Bucs SWEPT

RHELOB
2 4 0 3
5 12 0 12

Like all weekend afternoon games, didn't get to watch this game.  And looking at the stats, I'm pretty glad I didn't.  This game was a travesty.  The Bucs got 4-hit by an 0-7 pitcher.  Their only scoring play was a 2- run homer by Jeff Clement.  In the past 5 games (all losses) Andrew McCutchen has only 3 hits, and no more than one per game.  It's time to stop the bleeding, and fast.  Time to call up Alvarez and Tabata.  Give Brad Lincoln a shot too.  He can't be worse than Charlie Morton has been, even if he's not completely ready yet.  Have to do something before the season's completely out of reach before the halfway point.

Free Fallin'. Bucs LOSE

RHELOB
3 9 0 4
6 9 0 8

Despite a fairly good effort from Brian Burres, an early lead was blown yet again and the Bucs offense failed to do anything about it.  The Pirates were just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position, a stat that has to improve if the Pirates want any chance of getting back in the hunt.  Some longish win streaks will probably have to take place.  Not impossible for this team, but close to it.  I still believe that the system Neal Huntington is putting in place will pay off with a much greater probability than Dave Littlefield's system, but it means that there will be some really lean years without many offensive stars and this will probably be one of them.  I just keep reminding myself that once Alvarez et al. get the call up, things will get better.  Probably not right away (not this season), but within a year or two things will start paying off.

Anyway, Neil Walker continues to pound the ball, hitting 2 for 3 with a double that was about 5 feet away from being a home run.  His AVG/OBP/SLG right now is .350/.381/.550, which is amazing if he keeps it up.  Of course he hasn't taken many at bats so his numbers will continue to fluctuate pretty wildly until he takes about 100 or so.

The other multi-hit player in this game was Ronny Cedeno, who is hitting like he was at the beginning of the season.

Cutch hit his first homer in quite a while, a solo shot in the 3rd.  Despite the fact that his average is still high enough for 5th in the NL, it still seemed like he wasn't hitting it quite the way he was last year.  If he gets back to that level, he could be up for the batting title.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

When it starts to rain, everything's the same. Bucs LOSE

RHELOB
3 7 1 5
7 13 1 9

This was another one of those games where the outcome was determined after only a few innings.  After a rain delay pushed back the start of the game (still no postponements, not sure if that's a good thing or not),  The Braves scored 5 runs in the first 2 innings and after that you knew it was over.  A bad game for Zach Duke, earning all 7 runs the Braves scored, but poor play tends to be contagious and the Braves are a tough team to beat anyway.  Neil Walker continues to hit the ball well, going 2 for 4 and scoring a run and an RBI.  His average is up to .294 right now, not bad for a kid no one thought could do anything at the major league level a few years ago.  Garrett Jones also went 2 for 3 with an RBI.  The other RBI was hit by Andy LaRoche, who was the only pinch-hitter for the Bucs in this game.

Freshly called up pitcher Steven Jackson pitched well in relief for 1.6 innings, allowing just 1 hit and throwing 2 Ks.  Joel Hanrahan wrapped it up in the 8th with 2 Ks and no hits.

GAME.

Friday, May 28, 2010

SERIES 17 - Braves


Atlanta Braves

Friday, May 28, 7:35 PM
Saturday, May 29, 7:10 PM
Sunday, May 30, 1:35 PM

Turner Field, Atlanta, GA

Listen live on [WPGB]



2nd time around against Atlanta, but this time it's on their own home turf.  A series win would be nice, but one win is more realistic.



Expected Pitching Matchups

May 28: Duke(3-4) vs. Lowe (6-4)
May 29: Burres(2-2) vs. Medlen (1-1)
May 30: Maholm (3-4) vs. Kawakami (0-7)

Proposed Lineups


Pirates
1-Cedeno, SS
2-Walker, 2B
3-McCutchen, CF
4-Jones, RF
5-Church, LF
6-Doumit, C
7-LaRoche, 3B
8-Clement, 1B
9-[Pitcher]

Braves
1-Prado, 2B
2-Heyward, RF
3-Jones, 3B
4-Cabrera, LF
5-Hinske, 1B
6-McClouth, CF
7-Escobar, SS
8-Ross, C
9-[Pitcher]






Let's Go Bucs.

Cueto. Bucs LOSE

RHELOB
2 8 1 9
8 12 0 8

Johnny Cueto.  He's apparently the Bronson Arroyo of 2010 for the Reds against the Pirates.  It wasn't until he was relieved in the 7th that the Pirates were able to score a run, an Aki Iwamura RBI single.

Charlie Morton.  Despite all the talk about his great "stuff" (and I hate that term), he has only been able to grind out a win in one game out of ten.  Granted, he hasn't had much help from the Pirate bats, but in seven out of his ten appearances he has given up 5 or more runs.  Everyone has bad days.  A few outings where he gives up a lot of runs would be okay at this point in the season, but not 70% of the time.  His ERA went up again after this game to 9.35.  On a good team he would have been gone long before now.  It's time to send him down to Indy or try and trade him (probably not a lot of offers at this point, but he might be worth a low draft pick from a bad team like Houston or Baltimore.  Someone probably still thinks his "stuff" will get him somewhere), and give Brad Lincoln a try in the big leagues.  If he doesn't work out right away, there's always Karstens to pick up a few games.

UPDATE: Morton has apparently been placed on the DL, and Steven Jackson has been called up from the St. Louis Rams.

The Pirates bats were quiet as usual, even though they did pick up 8 hits.  Clement and Cedeno combined for 5 of those hits, going 3 for 4 and 2 for 4 with a walk respectively.  As mentioned previously, Aki got a hit as a pinch hitter and extended his streak to 5 games.  I think he was really having problems with an injury which was hampering his ability to hit and field effectively.  Maybe now that he is apparently healthy we can start to see more of the Aki that was part of the Rays AL Championship team in 2008.  The only Bucco RBIs came from him and Cedeno.

Overall this series was a bust, as the Reds are really surging lately and the Pirates, well, they never seem to surge.  It's not going to get any better in Atlanta I fear, but the Cubs series after that seems promising.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shutout #7. Bucs LOSE

R
H
E
LOB
0
6
3
8
4
10
0
11


Didn't get to see much of this game, but what I did see was pretty bad.  Ross Ohlendorf looked really shaky on the mound, walking 5 batters.  The defense behind him wasn't much better with 3 errors recorded.  Somehow, none of the errors led to runs.  The Pirates just couldn't get anything going all game, and as a result were shut out for the 7th time this year, and the 3rd time against the Reds.  Neil Walker was the best Pirates batter, going 2 for 4.  Aki Iwamura extended his hit streak to 4 games after being so terrible for most of the month.

Pirates try to avoid the series loss tonight against Johnny Cueto, who held the Buccos to one hit in a complete game last time around.  Not exactly promising.  Still, if the overall series record is any indication, the Bucs should win to tie the series again.

GAME.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Doumit Dinger. Bucs WIN

R
H
E
LOB
2
11
0
6
1
8
0
7

Tight pitcher's duel in this game.  Leake was very good, Maholm was even better.  Through the 7th, Maholm had only thrown 89 pitches, 54 of which were strikes.  No more than two batters for either team got on base in any half inning this game.  Score was still tied at 0 in the 8th when Aki Iwamura got a triple because the Reds' outfielder lost the ball in the sky.  One play later Neil Walker, the International League doubles leader and freshly called up player from Indianapolis, hit his first Major League double of the season, scoring Iwamura.  He then got picked off at second, somewhat tarnishing his effort in the inning.  Still, the Pirates had the lead, and their excellent bullpen was coming in to pitch the final two innings.

But the lead would not last for very long.  In the bottom of the 8th, Joel Hanrahan, part of the Meek-Hanrahan-Dotel trio which has been so effective all year, allowed only his 3rd home run all year to Brandon Phillips.  He was able to escape the inning with the score tied, but the W was taken from Paul Maholm, who has been very good all year but somewhat unlucky with the bullpen.  Hanrahan gets a blown save, and would also get the W.

To the 9th, where Ryan Doumit smacks 2 out homer to deep right center, his 2nd game-winning home run in the last 3 games.

Octavio Dotel shuts the Reds down in the bottom, preserving the win and earning his 10th save of the year, good for 5th on the NL list.

GAME.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

River City Frustration. Bucs LOSE

R
H
E
LOB
5
10
1
8
7
10
1
5

The 4th inning has been a make or break inning for the Buccos so far, and this time it broke.  After the Pirates led early because of a 2-run Cedeno homer in the 2nd, Brian Burres gave up 3 runs in the 4th, and was relieved by Jeff Karstens who gave up 2 more before finally escaping the inning.  The Bucs never really had a chance after that.  Cincy scored again off Karstens the following inning.  The Pirates put up a 3-run 7th with a 2-run Delwyn Young RBI double and a Garrett Jones sac, but you still had the feeling that they weren't coming back.

Speaking of Young, he was back at 3rd for this game (why!?) and made an absolutely horrible throw to first on what should have been a routine put-out.  Steve Pearce has to do a weird stretch to catch it but it's too far wide for him.  He ends up hurting his ankle on the play and is replaced by Jeff Clement for the rest of the game.  Young did have a nice day at the plate, going 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs and a run, but for the love of God, he does not belong at 3rd base.  I can only hope it's not too long before Pedro gets the call and we can leave this sort of nonsense in the past.

Anyway, the Bucs can't get anything going in the 8th or 9th, but D.J. Carrasco had a perfect 8th, taking them down in order with 3 Ks.

GAME.

Monday, May 24, 2010

SERIES 16 - Reds


Cincinnati Reds

Monday, May 24, 7:10 PM (FSN)
Tuesday, May 25, 7:10 PM (FSN)
Wednesday, May 26, 7:10 PM (FSN)
Thursday, May 27, 7:10 PM (FSN)


Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, OH

Listen live on [WPGB]



Expected Pitching Matchups

May 24: Burres vs. Harang
May 25: Maholm vs. Leake
May 26: Ohlendorf vs. Arroyo
May 27: Morton vs. Cueto

Proposed Lineups

Reds
1-D. Stubbs CF
2-O. Cabrera SS
3-J. Votto 1B
4-B. Phillips 2B
5-S. Rolen 3B
6-J. Bruce RF
7-J. Gomes LF
8-R. Hernandez C
9-[Pitcher]

Pirates
1-A. Iwamura 2B
2-A. McCutchen CF
3-L. Milledge LF
4-G. Jones RF
5-R. Doumit C
6-S. Pearce 1B
7-A. LaRoche 3B
8-R. CedeƱo SS
9-[Pitcher]


Let's Go Bucs.

Walk-off. Bucs WIN

R
H
E
LOB
2
8
0
7
3
11
1
11


It's always good to end a series on a high note, even if you lose overall.  Especially when going on a road trip.  It can build momentum.  The Pirates will need it when they roll into Cincy, where the Commies are only a half game behind the Division leading Cards.

Atllanta took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd off a David Ross single, a run which was not charged to Zach Duke due to a throwing error by Ronny Cedeno.  The Duke was in rare form today, earning no runs and striking out 5 in his 7 innings.

Very little happened for the next 4 innings, as both pitchers were pitching well.  But in the bottom of the 6th, the Bucs took a 2-1 lead off a Cutch triple which led to a Steve Pearce sac, and a Ryan Doumit single which scored GFJ later in the inning.

But Atlanta wasn't done yet.

Evan Meek gives up only his 3rd ER of the year, and his first homer, to former Pirate Eric Hinske in the 8th.  Unfortunate since it meant that Duke would not get a win after a 0 ER performance.

Neither team could get anything else through 9, so it's on to the tenth.

A bit of a scare in the top as Octavio Dotel loads the bases, but he gets a big K to end the half.

To the bottom.  Steve Pearce strikes out, and Clutch flies out too.  Ryan Doumit steps up to the plate.

Walk-off Home Run.


GAME.



Miscellaneous shit

Aki Iwamura finally ends his hitless streak, going 2 for 5 today with a double.  Cutch went 2 for 4 with a walk and Ryan Doumit went 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs and of course the game-winning home run.

Zach Duke's ERA drops to 4.47 with the no ER performance today.  It would be only 2.74 if the two bad performances against Milwaukee are excluded.

Octavio Dotel gets the win, his second of the year.