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 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.

padres

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 Marlins were 11-1 heading into their game at PNC Park this evening. They certainly didn’t play the part. The Pirates advanced runners along the base paths at free will with Andrew Miller’s slow delivery and poor pickoff move. The Pirates stole 2 bases and took advantage of 3 wild pitches and a balk. Adam LaRoche moved from 2nd to 3rd by tagging up on a short fly ball to center.

Adam LaRoche hit a 2-run single in the 5th and Nate McLouth hit a 3 run home run in the 6th to break the game wide open.

Ross Ohlendorf had a strong performance to earn his first win as a Pirate. He gave up 2 hits over 7 innings. Tyler Yates and Jesse Chavez closed out nicely to secure the 8-0 win.

This was the Pirates 4th shutout win. They only threw 5 all last season.

Astros Pirates Baseball

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.

duke_police_hat

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!

8:15 – After a long day at work and a trip to the grocery store, I’ve put meatloaf in the oven, and I’m ready to listen to the Buccos! What the heck… I’ll try a live game log. I’m listening on XM Radio tonight, so I’ve got the Cardinals’ feed. Bring on John Rooney.

8:16 – Play ball! Duke @ Wellemeyer. Njyer Morgan to the plate. The lineup shows that Ramon Vazquez will be starting third base in place of Andy LaRoche. LaRoche had a nice spring, but he’s struggled in the opening two games, going 0 for 5 with 3 defensive errors.

8:25 – The Pirates tried to put a first inning rally together. They caught a bad break when Ryan Doumit hit a ground-rule double to deep center. If the ball hadn’t left the field of play, Freddy Sanchez would have easily scored from first. After 1/2 inning, Pirates 0 – Cardinals 0.

8:30 – I’m really hoping that Zach Duke turns a corner this season. He starts with a walk.

8:31 – Kahlil Greene grounded out, 5-4-3. Operation: Shut Down Pujols begins.

8:32 – Struck him out! Went down looking.

8:39 – The good guys got on the board first! Moss singled. Vazquez walked. Wilson singled to score Moss! Let’s keep the rally going!

8:41 – After Zach Duke struck out, Nyjer Morgan continues hit hot streak by hitting at RBI single!

8:43 – Freddy Sanchez hit a bloop single, and Jack Wilson read the hit perfectly to leave 2nd on contact a score a run! The Bucs have 3 on the scoreboard, and the Cards sent a pitching coach to the mound!

8:47 – After a Nate McLouth Walk, Ryan Doumit hit an RBI single to right. Unfortunately, he was picked off first base (9-4-3). Tough way to spoil a second inning rally. Adam LaRoche fouled out to third to end the top half of the 2nd inning. 4-0 Pirates. Let’s go Zach!

8:57 – The Cards scored in the bottom of the 2nd, but it could’ve been much worse. Ryan Ludwick got on thanks to a Doumit catcher’s interference. A stolen base and a Rick Ankiel single drove in Ludwick. The key play was a David Freese flyout to Nyjer Morgan. Thanks to a wise defensive shift, the play was an easy out. With a standard defensive alignment, the play would’ve resulted in a hit in the gap and quite possibly an extended Cards rally. 4-1 Bucs.

9:04 – The Pirates got the run back in the top of the 3rd. Moss doubled. Vazquez grounded out, sending Moss to 3rd. A Wilson single drove him in. That’s Wilson’s 2nd RBI of the night. 5-1 Bucs.

9:11 – 3 up. 3 down. One thing that makes this Pirate lead even better is the fact that my meatloaf is ready. Yum.

9:28 – Not much news from the fourth. Pujols made an A+ defensive play to retire Adam LaRoche. Duke retired Pujols again in the bottom half of the inning. Still 5-1.

9:37 – Through 5 innings, Sanchez, Moss, and Wilson are all 3-3. Doumit is 2-3. Not bad.

9:40 – Duke struck out Ankiel, but a Doumit passed ball allowed Ankiel to reach first base. I was worried about this, since we went K-2-3 three times yesterday.

9:46 – The Cardinals scored one in the bottom of the fifth. Great play by Freddy Sanchez to pick up a ball deflected off Adam LaRoche’s glove and throw to the pitcher to get Rasmus out at first. 5-2 Bucs.

9:53 – Put 2 more on the board! Freddy Sanchez “doubled” (sounded more like a single and an error) and Nate McLouth got in first hit of 2009 in a homer to right field. Mmmm… 7-2 Pirates!

10:05 – The Pirates gave up a run in the 6th, but Duke is still pitching strong. 7-3

10:30 – Grabow replaced Duke, and we’re through 7. Still 7-3.

10:41 – Albert Pujols records his 700th career walk. Congratulations?

10:57 – Jack Wilson singled in the 9th to end his night at 4-5. 3 outs away from the W!

11:07 – Nothing’s easy. Tyler Yakes looked bad. Thankfully JoeThurston made a boneheaded baserunning mistake.

11:08 – Enter Mad Capper.

11:11 – Capps gets hit (very) hard, but McLouth robs a homer at the wall! 2 down.

11:13 – Raise the Jolly Roger! No doubt about it. 7-4 Pirates. We’re 2-1!

… until tomorrow.

newbuschstadium
I was in St. Louis just a few weeks ago. It’s a nice town, and Busch Stadium is beautiful. I wouldn’t mind being out there tonight.