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!