Within the same 15 minutes last night, I watched the Penguins fall to the Washington Capitals 3-2 to go down 2-0 in their NHL playoff series, and I listened to the Pirates blow an 8th inning and a 9th inning lead to lose their 16th straight game to the Milwaukee Brewers. sigh.

I know it’s unrealistic to expect the Pirates’ team to make a playoff run, and it’s probably even unrealistic to consider a .500 season, but losses like this really sting.

Paul Maholm made a strong start, giving the team a chance to win. He pitched 7 1/3 innings, gave up just six hits, struck out 7, and left with a 3-1 lead. Tyler Yates then got a 2nd out. John Grabow came in to replace Yates, and it was all downhill from there. Yates gave up a single and walk to load the bases, and then f@#$ing Ryan Braun hit a pinch hit double (for Chris Duffy) to tie the game.

Some clutch hitting in the bottom of the 8th by Jason Jaramillo put the Bucs back on top 4-3. Matt Capps came in for the 9th inning and gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases. A J.J. Hardy sacrifice fly and a Rickie Weeks home run put the game out of reach.

This is the 2nd consecutive game where Capps has looked bad. After seeing Saturday night’s disaster relief effort against the Reds this showing didn’t surprise me a great deal, but it’s still extremely disappointing.

On the positive side, Nate McLouth had another nice night, going 3-5 with an RBI, and I felt good with Jaramillo’s night.

We should have won this game. I guess the Brewers really do own us. I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.

Come On, Mad Capper, Let's Get it Together

Come On, Mad Capper, Let's Get it Together

I had a nice visit to Pittsburgh this weekend. I went to the game on Saturday night, which turned out to be the best game of the weekend (and the only game where a Pirate crossed home plate). It was also marathon weekend in Pittsburgh, so I enjoyed watching some friends run all over the city on Sunday.

Game 22 – Zach Duke pitched well (7 innings, 1 ER), but he got absolutely no help from the hitters. Bronson Arroyo shut down and shut out the Pirates, allowing 4 hits in 8 innings. This loss marked the 2nd game in a row where the Bucs were shutout, and it put the Pirates back to .500.

Game 23 – The Pirates got started early, putting 4 singles, a walk, and a HBP together to score 4 runs in the top of the 1st. Later, the Bucs got some help from a Brandon Phillips error that allowed 2 runs to score. In the top of the 9th, with an 8-4 lead, Matt Capps nearly imploded, but he survived with an 8-6 finish. Once again, the Pirates were a game above .500.

Game 24 – The thrill of victory was short-lived, as Johnny Cueto and Jeff Karstens took to the mound at 1:35 on Sunday afternoon. Karstens looked bad, as he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings. Again, the Bucs never got the bats moving, and they were shutout for the 3rd time in 4 games. No Pirate batter reached 2nd base in this game. Back to .500, and the Brewers are coming to PNC for a 2-game series.

Quick Thoughts
– We really need Ryan Doumit and Jack Wilson back in this lineup. Jen Langosch reported that Jack Wilson took some batting practice swings on Sunday. Ryan Doumit will rejoin the team on Friday.
– Who’s hot? – Delwyn Young looks good in the PH role. He’s 3-7 with 2 doubles. Other than giving up the 3 run homer to Lance Berkman on 4/16, Sean Burnett has pitched clean in relief.
– Who’s not? – Brian Bixler 3-15 and 10K, Brandon Moss 13-66 and OBP .243

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As a Pirate fan, I think you have to be concerned about the direction the team is heading. The injury bug has hit the team, and the month ended with a 3 game sweep to the hands of the Brewers. Still, the Bucs finished April with an 11-10 record, and the starting pitchers are still pitching better than most anybody expected. Let’s hope the Bucs can get back on the winning track and continue to play .500 baseball.

The Pirates begin the month with a home-stand against the Reds and Brewers (ugh).

Tonight: Bronson Arroyo @ Zach Duke, 7:05
Saturday: Micah Owings @ Ross Ohlendorf, 7:05
Sunday: Johnny Cueto @ Jeff Karstens, 1:35

Go Bucs!

The Pirates try to avoid a 3 game losing streak and their 18th consecutive loss at Miller Park.

Ian Snell @ Yovani Gallardo – 1:05 P.M.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Updated: Well, not too much to say about this one. Yovani Gallardo pitched a stellar game for the Brew Crew. He pitched 8 innings, allowed 2 hits, and struck out 11 Pirate batters. Oh yeah, he also hit a solo home run to lead his team to the 1-0 victory.

Ian Snell pitched well, but he probably shouldn’t have stayed in as long as he did. He threw 131 pitches.

The Pirates have now been swept, and they’ve now been defeated 18 consecutive times at Miller Park. The record is 19.

Former Pirate, Chris Duffy contributed a hit for the Brewers today.

From the Minor Leagues, the injury bug is still alive. Jose Tabata will be out 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury.

The Reds are coming to Pittsburgh for the weekend. I’ll be there on Saturday!

Enjoy the off day! Go Bucs!

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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!

It’s raining in Cincinnati. This game is postponed until a later date.

Until his next scheduled start, Jeff Karstens will move to the bullpen. Paul Maholm is scheduled to start tomorrow against Johnny Cueto.