Todd Wellemeyer (3-2, 4.75) @ Zach Duke (3-3, 2.79), 7:05 P.M., PNC Park

I’ll be at Camden Yards, watching the O’s vs. the Rays.

Post Game Update:
I could hardly believe my eyes as the out-of-town scoreboard in Camden Yards kept updating. Thanks to 8 strong innings from Zach Duke, the Pirates beat the Cards 7-1. Through 7 games, Duke’s ERA is 2.52. Good stuff!

The Pirates got home runs from Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss, two players who have been struggling as of recent. Hopefully, they’re starting to turn the corner.

Jack Wilson is back! Even though he went 0-4 tonight, he was part of a nice double play, and it feels really good to have him back on the field.

Currently, the biggest cause for concern is Matt Capps. He came in for the 9th inning and loaded the bases with no outs. He escaped the inning and didn’t allow any runs, but now his last 4 performances have been shaky.

April 24 – Flyout, Walk, Popout, Walk, Single – 1 run
May 2 – Single, Single, Single, Single, Flyout, K, Single, K – 2 runs
May 4 – Single, Single, Walk, SacFly, HR, K, Flyout – 4 runs
May 12 – Single, Walk, Walk, K, K, Flyout – 0 runs

Andy LaRoche scores against the Cardinals

Andy LaRoche scores against the Cardinals

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It’s not like the Pirates deserved a 5-1 lead midway through last night’s game, and so it wasn’t entirely surprising when it disappeared. Two runs scored after a Brewer error helped to keep the 3rd inning alive. Two runs came in the 5th on a Jason Jaramillo double immediately after Eric Hinske and Andy LaRoche were hit by pitches.

Paul Maholm didn’t have the same command that he had in his 3 wins this season. He walked 5 batters and gave up 7 hits over his 5.1 innings of work.

Walks have been a problem in the last two games against the Brewers. Pirate pitchers have given up 17 walks in 16 innings (1.06 BB/Inn). Prior to this series, Pirate pitchers had given up 65 walks in 158 innings (0.41 BB/Inn). The Brewers walked just one batter last night.

Another subplot for this series has been the beaned batters. Things started to get ugly in the series opening game on Monday when Jeff Karstens seemingly intentionally hit Ryan Braun (who homered in his first at-bat of the game) to start the 3rd inning. Braun was quite upset by the pitch, and John Hirschbeck warned both benches. Later in the game, Jason Kendall was hit by Jesse Chavez in the 6th and by Evan Meek in the 8th, but no ejections were made. After the game, Ryan Braun had this to say:

Asked if Karstens drilled him intentionally, Braun said, “Probably, yeah. It’s rare for major-league pitchers to miss by that much with a fastball.”

Then, issuing a not-so-wise warning to the commissioner’s office, Braun added, “We play them about 17 more times (actually 13). Tell Mr. Selig, we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be interesting.”

Last night, Brewers’ starter Dave Bush hit three Pirate batters (Freddy Sanchez in the 1st and Eric Hinske and Andy LaRoche in the 5th).

There’s something to keep an eye on in the next 13 Brewers/Pirates matchups.

The Pirates managed 7 hits last night, and they came from an unlikely crew: the RBI double by Jaramillo, Brian Bixler avenged his 4K night by going 2-4, Ramon Vazquez singled in his only at-bat, Eric Hinske had a 2 RBI double, and Brandon Moss and Freddy Sanchez added hits.

If you’re keeping track at home, you can make that 17 consecutive losses at Miller Park for the Buccos. They try to reverse the trend at 1:05 today.

Ryan Braun threatens the Pirates

Ryan Braun threatens the Pirates

This game was not pretty and not a fun one to listen to, but despite it all, the Pirates still found themselves with a chance to win late in the game.

The Bucs scored 2 runs in the top half of the first inning thanks to four consecutive singles from the top of our order, followed by a J.J. Hardy error. Jeff Karstens looked bad in his 5 innings of work, and he served up the Brewer hitters early and often. He gave up 5 runs on 3 homers in the first three innings.

Jesse Chavez and Evan Meek each pitched a scoreless inning, and the Pirate bats fought for 2 runs in the top of the eighth to tie the score at 5-5.

Then, the bullpen collapsed.

Coming into tonight, John Grabow was 1-0, pitching 10 innings for 8H, 0R, 0ER, 3 BB, and 10K. Tonight, he pitched 1/3 of an inning for 2H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 0K.

Tyler Yates’ struggles continued last night. He pitched 1/3 of an inning for 0H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, and 0K. His ERA for the season is up to 9.95.

Sean Burnett entered to get the final out of the 8th, but it was too little, too late. The damage was done.

Brian Bixler played shortstop in place of the injured Jack Wilson. He went 0-4 with 4K.

Positives from tonight: Adam LaRoche, Nyjer Morgan, and Freddy Sanchez continue their hot hitting. Andy LaRoche has an 11 game hit streak.

The Pirates have now lost 16 consecutive games at Miller Park! That’s just ridiculous, and it needs to end tonight.

Paul Maholm @ Dave Bush – 8:05

Miller Park: Not a Friendly Place

Miller Park: Not a Friendly Place

I didn’t get to see or hear much Pirate baseball this weekend because I was in State College, PA for the Blue/White game, Penn State Football’s annual spring scrimmage. The weekend is really more about tailgating and enjoying the outdoors, but a reminder that college football season is on its way isn’t a bad thing either.

The Pirates were in San Diego for a 3 game series this weekend. Despite a mess of injuries, the Bucs found a way to win 2 out of 3 games and claim their third consecutive series win. Nate McLouth didn’t play at all this weekend due to an injured right oblique. It doesn’t sound like this injury will require a trip to the DL, but the team decided to keep McLouth out for precautionary reasons. Jack Wilson was sent to the DL because of the injured left middle finger that has been bothering him over the past week. Brian Bixler was called up to replace Wilson, and Bixler will likely split time at shortstop with Ramon Vazquez. Finally, Craig Hansen was sent to the DL because of neck spasms. Evan Meek was called up to replace Hansen.

Game 16 – The series opened with a tough loss for the Bucs. Pittsburgh used every pitcher that they had available before losing 4-3 in 11 innings. Ian Snell only lasted 5 and 1/2 innings. The relievers pitched 5 scoreless innings until Matt Capps walked 2 in the 11th and former Pirate, Brian Giles hit a game winning double.

Game 17 – Zach Duke looked strong once again to claim his 3rd win of the season. The Bucs dominated the Padres from start to finish in this game and took home the 10-1 victory. Duke pitched 8 and 1/3 inning, giving up 6 hits and 1 ER. He got plenty of support from his own batters with Freddy Sanchez going 3-5, Craig Monroe going 3-5, Eric Hinske going 2-3, Andy LaRoche going 2-4, and Jason Jaramillo going 2-4.

Game 18 – Ross Ohlendorf out-pitched Jake Peavy, and Adam LaRoche hit 2 home runs to lead the Bucs to an 8-3 win over the Padres. Ohlendorf pitched 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 ER. John Grabow finished up the final two innings. Andy LaRoche went 2-5 to extend his consecutive game hitting streak to 10. So much for that slow start!

The Pirates are now 11-7, and they have already seen strong pitching performances from all of their starters. It sure looks like Pitching Coach, Joe Kerrigan is doing a lot of the right things.

With this series win, the Pirates are now 4 games over .500. That hasn’t happened since 2002. Also, the Pirates are now assured of a winning record in the month of April. That’s happened just twice in the last 15 years.

One final note from the weekend. Dave Davidson was claimed off waivers by the Florida Marlins. Only time will tell if this means anything.


A 3 game series with the Milwaukee Brewers is next. Let’s hope that our injury depleted Pittsburgh Pirates can find a way to keep the wins coming.

Monday – Jeff Karstens @ Braden Looper – 8:05 P.M.
Tuesday – Paul Maholm @ Dave Bush – 8:05 P.M.
Wednesday – Ian Snell @ – Yovani Gallardo 1:05 P.M.

The Pirates officially won their first series of the season when they took 2 out of 3 games from the Atlanta Braves. The Pirates scored 3-0 and 10-0 shutouts from strong pitching performances by Paul Maholm and Ian Snell. Zach Duke started the 3rd game of the series. Things got off to a bad start and never improved much. The Braves took the final game 11-1.

Some quick notes:

Game 10
Another great start for Paul Maholm. 7IP 4H.
Jack Wilson sat this game out with a sore finger.
Delwyn Young made his first at-bat as a Pirate. He entered as a pinch hitter and fouled out to the catcher.

Game 11
Another great start for Ian Snell. 7IP 4H.
Jack Wilson sat out again.
Craig Monroe had a 6 RBI game.
Andy LaRoche is using a new batting stance, and he seems to be figuring things out, going 3-4 with an RBI

Game 12
Zach Duke didn’t have a great start. 6IP 12H 6R.
Jack Wilson got back into the starting lineup. He went 1-3.
The Pirates had 7 hits, but they could only score 1 meaningless run in the 9th.
Delwyn Young played 2 innings in LF. He struck out swinging in the 8th.


There shouldn’t be a rain-out today, so we’re finally going to see Jeff Karstens take the mound.

Andy LaRoche is starting again at 3rd. Ryan Doumit will get a rest today, and Jason Jaramillo will take on catching duties.

It’d be really nice to win this series against the Astros.

Russ Ortiz @ Jeff Karstens – 12:35 P.M.


Update: Disappointing game. The Pirates got 10 hits, but they could only convert them into 3 runs. Both teams scored three runs early. Lance Berkman hit a 3 run homer off of Sean Burnett.

– Andy LaRoche finally got his hit.
– Not a great outing for Karstens, giving up 3 runs, 4 hits, and 5 walks in 4 IP.
– We’re officially below .500 for the first time this season.

I must admit that baseball will not be my top priority tonight. The Philadelphia Flyers travel to the Burgh for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Still, I’ll keep an eye on the game, and here are some quick notes for tonight:
– We got Delwyn Young for two players to be named later. Apparently, he’ll be in Pittsburgh later this week. Time will tell where he fits in, and who gets bumped to make room for him.
– Andy LaRoche is back in the starting lineup tonight. He WILL get a hit.
– It’s Jackie Robinson day. Pay tribute to #42.


10:23 Update – Well, not much to say about the baseball game (other than everybody wore #42… which made the game very confusing). The Pens, however, got off to a great start, defeating the Flyers 4-1.

The Astros got four runs in a hurry. Mike Hampton threw 6 shutout innings, and that was about enough. Adam LaRoche hit a solo shot in the 9th. Andy LaRoche didn’t get his hit. He was replaced in the top of the 6th.

The most ironic event of the evening for me was that I decided to post my Retrosheet Scorecard this evening, despite my knowledge that at least one game situation doesn’t work well (a pinch hitter is at bat when the third out of an inning is a caught stealing. Sure enough, it happened tonight.

Today’s home opener proved to be a great day at PNC Park. There were plenty of pregame festivities as Nate McLouth was presented with his Gold Glove Award and Steve Blass was recognized for being a part of the Pirates for 50 seasons, and the Pirates wore special caps to honor and remember the Pittsburgh police officers who were killed last week.

For his second straight start this season, Zach Duke was effective on the mound. Today, he threw a complete game shutout and the Pirates beat the Houston Astros 7-0. The Astros appear to be a very bad team. They’re 1-6, and they’ve scored just 16 runs. Even the 0-7 Nationals have put 34 on the scoreboard. This would be a nice time to record a three game sweep.

Every Pirate in the batting order recorded a hit today. Ramon Vazquez started at 3rd base again, in place of Andy LaRoche. I think this series against the Astros would be an appropriate time to get LaRoche back into the lineup and hopefully get into a solid rhythm. Freddy Sanchez had a great game today, going 3-5 with three doubles. Adam LaRoche and Ryan Doumit added homers.

The Bucs get the day off tomorrow before a 7:05 P.M. game on Wednesday. Mike Hampton @ Ross Ohlendorf.


I actually did get to watch a majority of this this afternoon’s game since my aunt and uncle have DirectTV, and they happen to be offering a free week of MLB Extra Innings (what luck!).

Offensively, there wasn’t too much to see, as Aaron Harang threw a 3-hitter to defeat the Pirates 2-0. To be 1-hit and 3-hit within the first week of the season worries me a bit.

Ian Snell had an improved outing. After giving up a 2-run homer to Brandon Phillips in the first inning, Snell calmed down to pitch six effective innings, striking out 7.

Defensively, there were two gems late in the game. With one out in the bottom of the 6th, Ramon Hernandez hit a hard line drive up the middle. Jack Wilson made a diving stop, flipped the ball to Freddy Sanchez and second, and Freddy jumped over a sliding Edwin Encarnacion to complete the double play. With runners on 1st and 2nd in the bottom of the eighth inning, Cincinnati had both runners going on the pitch. Edwin Encarnacion hit a bloop pop that was caught by Jack Wilson. Wilson threw to Sanchez then to LaRoche for the 6-4-3 triple play. That was the Pirates first triple play since 1993.

We’re finally heading home for series with the Astros, Braves, and Marlins. Hopefully PNC Park is friendlier to Andy LaRoche who is still looking for his first hit in 2009 (0-14).

I only got to see about an inning of today’s game on TV, as I opted to watch Purdue @ Penn State. There was no shortage of action, with the Nittany Lions winning 11-9 (31 total hits in the game).

Today was a nice win for the Pirates. Paul Maholm looked sharp for his second consecutive start. He allowed 3 hits and 1 run in 7 innings. He struck out 3, and after 2 starts, his season ERA is 1.32.

From the plate, Nyjer Morgan continued his hot start by going 3-4 with 2 runs and an RBI. Nate McLouth’s bat is coming alive, going 2-3 with 2 runs and 3 RBIs. With a 5-1 lead in the 9th inning, Ryan Doumit added a grand slam and Adam LaRoche followed up with a homer of his own.

We’re still waiting for Andy LaRoche to get started. Today was another tough game, going 0-5. He’s still hitless in 2009.

With today’s win, the Pirates can’t finish this opening road trip any worse than .500.

Snell @ Aaron Harang is at 1:10 tomorrow. I’ll be at an Easter lunch with my family, so I probably won’t see or hear much from this game.

Go Bucs! Happy Easter!